After 21 years, you probably know that WSRE’s annual Food and Wine Classic is just around the corner. Hopefully you got your tickets, because the Sunday, Oct. 24 event is sold out. However, you still have a chance to be wined and dined at the Preview Tasting Party, starting at 6 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 22.
The Food and Wine Classic, which is now WSRE’s main fundraising event, began with humble beginnings.
“The first Food and Wine Classic was before my time,” said Janie Stewart, manager of business partnership and special events. “I know that it started very small. It was truly just wine and cheese with only a few sponsors. Over the years, it has grown and evolved into our signature event.”
All proceeds for the event go towards the mission of WSRE and PBS for the Gulf Coast.
“Our mission is to inspire everyone from every walk of life to explore new ideas, discover new worlds and broaden horizons,” said managing director, Robin McArthur. “Proceeds go toward our general fund which is budgeted out to local programming, funding PBS and educational services.”
Supporting WSRE is important because it is the voice of the community.
“WSRE provides an unbiased voice,” McArthur said. “We provide both sides of the story and a voice for the public, by the public. We’re not owned by a huge media conglomerate; our message isn’t controlled by our owner.”
As for the food, local culinary talents such as Chef David Cunningham of Commander’s Palace, Chef Irv Miller of Jackson’s Steakhouse, Chef Gregg McCarthy of The Grand Marlin and Chef David Penniman of Classic City Catering will be preparing a five course meal for Sunday’s event.
“We leave the menu up to the chefs,” Stewart said. “They have great ideas and come up with a delicious menu.”
Stewart, with the help of a panel of volunteers, is in charge of finding chefs for the Friday and Sunday events. Surprisingly, it isn’t hard to find generous chefs to donate their time and talent.
“The chefs usually call us,” Stewart said. “I also try to bring in chefs that are loyal to the event and any new chefs in the area.”
“We like to recognize new talent,” McArthur explained. “If there is a chef out there who wants to participate, we’d love to hear from them.”
Friday’s Preview Tasting Party will feature Chef Jay Ammons of Will Call Sports Grille, Chef Mark Murphy of Flounder’s Chowder House, Chef Jim Shirley of The Fish House, Chef Tony Wall of New World Landing and Chef Dan Dunn of H20 Grill, who will also be at Sunday’s event.
At the Preview Tasting Party, you can enjoy live entertainment from Al Martin and Sandra Daggs. While you sample hors d’oeuvres and fine wines, you can bid on silent auction items. The ticket price for the Preview Tasting Party is $50.
The Food and Wine Classic has become a part of the Pensacola community, and whether you’re sitting down for a fancy five course meal or mingling and eating with your hands, you’re supporting WSRE and participating within the community, which is an unwritten mission of WSRE.
“The event has taken a life of its own,” Stewart added. “It has been a wonderful fundraiser for the station. I like to call it a ‘friendraiser.’ It’s a great way to meet new people and get involved with WSRE.”
WSRE PRESENTS 22ND ANNUAL FOOD AND WINE CLASSIC
WHEN: Preview Tasting Party, 6 p.m. Friday, Oct. 22; “Corks and Forks,” 5:30 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 24
WHERE: Hilton Pensacola Beach Gulf Front, 12 Via DeLuna Drive
COST: Preview Tasting Party, $50; “Corks and Forks,” SOLD OUT