The McLean Uncorked International Food & Wine Festival went off without a hitch - great wine, great food, great entertainment – and believe it or not – great weather.
On Saturday, October 15, the McLean Community Center (MCC) hosted its first annual festival of the grape with wines from France, Spain, Argentina, Germany and the United States. This all-day event had tasting stations, food and wine vendors, specialty gift vendors, wine-related seminars, and celebrity presentations by Food Network’s Alton Brown and acclaimed D.C. restaurateur Chef Bob Kinkead.
The two chefs were big draws of the festival with Brown selling out two shows. They were yin and yang to each other, presenting two different aspects of the world of cooking.
Alton Brown, of Food Network television fame put on a show. With coiffed hair and a bow tie, he is the “Bill Nye the Science Guy” of cuisine. Brown conducted science/cooking experiments relating to wine: how to chill room temperature wine in 2 minutes, what to do with leftover wine using gelatin sheets and oil, and after uncorking a bottle of champagne with a sword, how to use the left over bubbly in Bellini sorbet with the help of liquid nitrogen.
Prior to his presentation, Brown was in the McLean Project for the Arts signing copies of his new book “Good Eats 3: The Later Years.” Impressed by the work of Seth Rosenberg he asked if the paintings were for sale and.said, “Glad to be here…beautiful theatre…nice art…nice town.”
Kinkead, chef and owner of the popular D.C, restaurant Kinkead’s, an American Brasserie talked about the life of the restaurant business. A self-proclaimed curmudgeon and self-taught chef, he exuded a salt-of-the-earth persona and shared his personal experiences over the last forty years. Starting as a dish washer at the age of fifteen and working his way through every position in the kitchen – Kinkead has seen it all.
The chef remarked on the changing world of cooking - both good an bad. Although cooking shows starring good looking and skinny hosts may misrepresent the life of a chef, they do attract viewers to pick up a pan. He is not a fan of fads, social media user reviews and especially cupcakes. He enjoys the creativity of his peers, the loyalty and hard work of his staff and a good compliment about his food. Of the Uncorked festival he said, “It’s great – anything that presents this sort of stuff is terrific.”
Patrons of all ages meandered through the entire MCC building visiting the tasting stations and vendors that lined the halls of the main floor and lower levels. Everything seemed to run smoothly with the help of numerous volunteers. An affable Doug House of Chain Bridge Cellars, one of the co-creators of the festival, was optimistic about the day, estimating between two and three thousand visitors.
Melody Johnson, originally from McLean, was enjoying herself and said, “It’s a great idea to have something like this here…to taste wines locally and internationally.”
Terry Brisebois of Falls Church added, “I’m impressed that the Community Center is attracting younger people.”
A steady stream of visitors walked through the stations, tasting and learning about various regional wines. Oliver Daubresse of Vinifrance Import, Inc..and a native of France, ran a station with wine from Bordeaux and the Cote de Rhone regions of France. He was excited about participating in the event and said, “It’s a good concept to organize an international tasting with quality wines…Thanks to Chain Bridge Cellars.”