10 Food Festivals Worth Travelling to Find
These delectable fêtes are the ultimate memento for globetrotting gourmands.
Of course you always seek out a seat at the best bars and restaurants when you travel. But for a deeper dive into the culinary scene of your chosen destination, align your trip with a food festival. From a multi-stage music fest showcasing the best of a city’s eats to gatherings focused on a particular regional dish, the stops on our smorgasbord tour abound with local cuisine and culture.
Palm Beach Food and Wine Festival
As if Florida isn’t seductive enough in winter, the Palm Beach Food and Wine Festival adds yet another excuse to head South in December. This lauded culinary event attracts powerhouse chefs like Daniel Boulud, Mike Lata and the Sunshine State’s own Michelle Bernstein to a number of local venues, including festival home base
Four Seasons Resort Palm Beach. Beyond the capstone Grand Tasting, buoyed by book signings and the sounds of a DJ, there are multi-course wine-paired dinners revolving around themes such as sustainable seafood and modern Southern cuisine.
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Big Apple BBQ
Every June for the past 16 years, 16 top pitmasters from California to New York have taken over Madison Square Park for a two-day-long backyard barbecue right in the middle of Manhattan. Meat and smoke are the main ingredients for the Big Apple BBQ, which will be relocating elsewhere on the island in 2019 (no word yet). The venue may be changing, but greats such as Sam Jones, Rodney Scott and John Stage will no doubt still be prodding the fire. Move from tent to tent sampling Eastern Carolina pulled pork sandwiches, St. Louis–style ribs, Texas brisket and jalapeño-tinged sausage. Serious foodies who want to talk shop with their BBQ heroes know to swing by Thursday night when the mouthwatering aroma of hot coals and slow-roasting swine starts to fill the air. Can’t muster the motivation to move after the feast? Both
Four Seasons Hotel New York and Four Seasons Hotel New York Downtown are just a cab ride away.
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Tokyo Ramen Show
For 11 days in October/early November, the many flavours and styles of Japan’s most buzzworthy noodle soup come together at the Tokyo Ramen Show in Komazawa Olympic Park. The steaming comfort food comes not just from Tokyo purveyors, but from ramen makers in Hokkaido, Kagoshima and everywhere in between. Make Four Seasons Hotel Tokyo at Marunouchi your home base, and stay awhile: 18 vendors ladle soup for the first six days and an entirely new cast takes over for the final five. Ramen is known for its wildly varied flavours and ingredients, which differ from city to city, town to town. You can taste for yourself a kaleidoscope of regional variations like miso-based broth with horsehair crab and dashi with dried bonito flakes and sea kelp. And don’t miss the mash-ups – ramen shops collaborating with one another to create completely new dishes only available here.
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Gone are the days of sad and soggy music festival fare. Melon salad, Malaysian lamb curry, samosas and stir-fried veggie glass noodles are among the menu choices when 70 or so of San Francisco’s best restaurants set up al fresco kitchens at the Outside Lands music festival in August. About a dozen food trucks are on hand, as well as, in true California fashion, a Cypress Grove pop-up slinging artisan cheese plates. Oh, and there’s music too: If you like your meals paired with the stylings of Florence & The Machine, The Weekend, Beck and Bon Iver, this fest’s for you. Rest and recover at the centrally located Four Seasons Hotel San Francisco.
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Chef Fest, Hawaii
If cosying up to an intimate group of all-star chefs in one of the most exquisite natural settings in North America is your idea of a memorable holiday, make your way to
Four Seasons Resort Hualalai in October for Chef Fest. Interactive cooking classes with such experts as Hugh Acheson, Brooke Williamson and Andy Ricker at the Resort’s outdoor kitchen are the main draw, but beach cookouts, al fresco tastings with local farmers and pre-brunch paddleboarding excursions further enhance the tropical environs. Treat yourself to the cocktail showcase at the Resort’s Palm Grove Pool and toast to the most tasteful of beach getaways.
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Salon du Chocolat, Paris
Held each fall at the Porte de Versailles expo centre about 15 minutes from
Four Seasons Hotel George V, Paris, Salon du Chocolat is one of several such shows around the world – but this one’s in Paris, a city famous for its sophisticated confections. The truffles and ganache here are enough to exhilarate any chocophile, but the centrepiece is the Salon’s unusual fashion show: Designers and chocolatiers collaborate on haute-couture outfits embellished with or delicately spun from chocolate.
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Prague Food Festival
Chances are a visit to Prague will lead to its majestic castle, a ninth-century marvel that is home to St Vitus Cathedral and the Renaissance-era Royal Garden. Here, just across the Vltava River from Four Seasons Hotel Prague, the Prague Food Festival unfolds each May. Don’t pass up a chance to consume the best dishes from Czech chefs – steak tartare and lamb ragout with bread dumplings, or perhaps sushi or empanadas – with the added zest of a fairy-tale dining spot.
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Taste of Sydney
For four days in early March the all-encompassing Taste of Sydney festival takes over Sydney’s verdant Centennial Parklands, minutes from Four Seasons Hotel Sydney. Wine tastings and demos in butchery and baking add an interactive element, and an artisan marketplace of locally made ingredients and wares means you can savour the festival long after it’s over. More than 60 dishes from notable Sydney chefs like Mark Best and Nelly Robinson are the main attraction. Sample barbecued octopus, shrimp toast okonomiyaki and lamb skewers, then retreat to a glamping tent with a glass of Sauvignon Blanc from the Adelaide Hills.
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Dubai Food Festival
The Dubai Food Festival in February and March reflects the city’s rich diversity, attracting chefs like Jun Tanaka, Nikita Gandhi and Tim Read. Throughout the celebration, at various locations near Four Seasons Resort Dubai at Jumeirah Beach and Four Seasons Hotel Dubai International Financial Centre, local restaurants roll out limited-edition menus sure to evoke extreme Instagram envy. Sit down in one of their dramatic dining rooms, or head to a food truck or al fresco pop-up at the festival’s Etisalat Beach Canteen. Learn a little something at a chef master class, tour an urban farm and nosh at a street food bazaar – all part of this robust 17-day event.
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Ubud Food Festival
From tofu to turmeric, the Ubud Food Festival – sister event to the Ubud Writers & Readers and Bali Emerging Voices festivals – puts Indonesia’s vast culinary landscape front and centre each April. Start by reading the story of the woman who adopted Bali as her home and launched this annual festival, located minutes from Four Seasons Resort Bali at Sayan. Then master macarons with Bali’s Prince of Pastry, Rafi Papazian; make the healing herbal drink jamu; cook with clay pots and wood-fired stoves in a traditional paon (Balinese kitchen); and breathe deeply at a fiery sambal cook-off. Beyond the kitchen, consider the intro course on Indonesian language and culture, led by an instructor from the Cinta Bahasa Indonesian Language School.