For almost a decade, I have had both the honor and privilege to judge the annual Fleur de Lis Awards given out at the New Orleans Wine & Food Experience. It’s a day or two filled with chefs all over the Greater New Orleans Area (and sometimes Baton Rouge!) demonstrating their culinary prowess and stuffing us silly with innovative, fun, and always delicious creations.

Last year, the team of judges ventured out in early March, tasting dishes for an event we were sure would exceed previous events, as the food just keeps getting better and better. How does one judge the best when everything is stellar?

Only days after our oh-so difficult, gut-busting work, the folks behind NOWFE wisely (and sadly) decided to cancel 2020’s festival to protect both guests and employees in the wake of the pandemic.

Lost Dishes From The
2020 New Orleans Wine & Food Experience
(That Never Happened)

Just the other day, I was getting that feeling again, that building excitement for the tastes to come, the tastes that have always come around this time of year for the past decade. Even though Mardi Gras 2021 was canceled, would NOWFE be lost, too? Will we ever pull through the chaos and have life return to normal, or some version of it with the inclusion of facemasks, social distancing and prolific amounts of hand sanitizer? Will I ever be able to hop on the NOWFE tour bus again with my food-writing colleagues to enjoy and evaluate all of the amazing food this fantastic festival has to offer?

And then, like the sun breaking through the clouds on a somber day, I received a press release. The New Orleans Wine & Food Experience had “uncorked” their plans for 2021! With safety precautions and limited ticketing in place, NOWFE shall once again go forth in all of its glory from Wednesday, June 9th to Sunday, June 14th! Executive Director (and all-around groovy chick) Aimee Brown assures us it will be an event to remember.

“We are excited about our summer plans,” states Brown, “We will have several of our popular events, however, coming together safely is most important. Rest assured NOWFE 2021 will be a safe place to share your love of food and wine.”

Brown promises a full, and oh-so fulfilling lineup with almost all of past-year’s events intact including Vinola, Tournament of Rosés, the Grand Tastings at The Sugar Mill, and Burlesque, Bubbly, and Brunch with Trixie Minx!

Most importantly, I will once again be judging for the Fleur de Lis Awards that will be announced at the Grand Tastings! Be sure to follow me @sucktheheads on Instagram as I’ll be offering a sneak peek of the goodies in store.

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