The four-day culinary and wine celebration brought together celebrated area chefs, world-renowned vintners and industry insiders. The event also raised thousands of dollars for The Ringling and All Faiths Food Bank.
(Sarasota, Florida) Forks & Corks, the four-day food and wine festival presented by The Sarasota-Manatee Originals (SMO), was “a resounding success, surpassing all records from the past six festivals,” says Kate Atkin, executive director of The Sarasota-Manatee Originals. The festival, which ran January 24-27, 2014, featured interactive food and wine seminars, vintner events at area Originals restaurants, a trade tasting for restaurants, retail and hotels, and The Grand Tasting at The Ringling.
Atkin says the all-day event at the museum, The Grand Tasting, attracted more than 1,200 paid guests and sold out eight minutes after tickets went on sale. “We experienced the fastest ticket sell-out ever,” says Atkin. “This demand is what defines us as southwest Florida’s premier food and wine festival. We even had calls and emails from overseas for tickets.” She says The Grand Tasting featured signature dishes from 43 Originals member restaurants (with 45,000 samples of food prepared and served), 438 wines from 81 wineries (with 5,000 bottles of wine poured during the event), live entertainment, and a charity wine auction, which raised nearly $13,000 to benefit All Faiths Food Bank. The event also raised more than $30,000 for The Ringling.
The festival also featured winemaker events at Originals member restaurants and two wine seminars. According to Atkin, more than 540 guests attended these events, which included casual tastings, luncheons, mingling events, and multi-coursed formal dinners. Thirty-four winemakers from around the globe were guests of honor at the winemaker events. Approximately $100,000 in retail wine sales was recorded during the weekend.
A main objective of Forks & Corks is to reinforce the Sarasota-Manatee region as a significant culinary destination. “The restaurant industry is a vital part of our community’s economic make-up,” says Atkin. “In terms of how we sell Sarasota to the world, we see our part as integral to the big picture as are our beaches, climate and cultural amenities.” She says that her team was able to analyze that eight percent of this year’s ticket buyers lived outside of the state of Florida and 11 percent were Florida residents—but reside outside of Sarasota and Manatee counties. “These statistics show us that we’re able to attract a sizable group of people from outside of this region,” says Atkin, adding that the festival is an important way for Originals restaurants to market themselves to both residents and visitors. “Participating restaurants almost always report increased revenues immediately following the event,” she says. “The Grand Tasting is an invaluable tool to introduce menus and services to hundreds of people who may never have stepped through their doors.”
“We’re still beaming,” says Atkin. “It’s a great feeling to be part of an event that delights so many people—and raises money and awareness for the community.”
Next year’s festival is January 23-26, 2015. “We’re already getting requests from vintners to be a part of it, and from the public to purchase tickets,” Atkin says.
For more information about the seventh annual Forks & Corks Food & Wine Festival, visit www.dineoriginal.com/forksandcorks, or call 941-365-2800.
2014 FORKS & CORKS FUN FACTS
· 16 different winemaker events took place over the weekend at various Sarasota-Manatee Original member restaurants.
· 540 guests attended these events, which included casual tastings, luncheons, and multi-coursed, formal dinners.
· 34 different winemakers from around the globe were guests of honor at these winemaker events.
Forks & Corks University
· 17 visiting winemakers were guest panelists on three different educational seminars
· The three sessions were:
o “Beauty and the Vine” ~ Women in Winemaking
o “Salud! South America” ~ Wines and Winemakers from Chile and Argentina
o “Rhone Stylin’” ~ Wines and Winemakers with Rhone blends
· 150 people attended these sessions, as well as a gourmet four-course luncheon at Michael’s On East.
· Bottles of wine for the University Sessions and Luncheon: (344)
· Five different retail tasting occurred at local wine retailers: The Butchers Block, Michael’s Wine Cellar, Morton’s Gourmet Market, Sarasota Fine Wine & Tastings, and Brindley’s Liquor, Wine and Gourmet Store
· Attendees: More than 800
· Bottles of wine sold: More than 1,500
The Grand Tasting
· Over 1,800 attendees (ticket purchasers, sponsors, vendors, staff and volunteers)
· Sold 1,200 tickets in first eight minutes of ticket sales!
· 81 wineries showcased the best of their varietals.
· 438 different wines were available to sample at the Grand Tasting
· Over 5,000 bottles of wine were used at the Grand Tasting
· 43 Sarasota-Manatee Original member restaurants provided samples to attendees of their finest fare
· Over 45,000 samples of food were prepared and served at the Grand Tasting
The Trade Tasting
· Annual industry-exclusive event held for restaurateurs, hoteliers and retailers to meet visiting winemakers and sample their products.
· Over 400 people attended the event from businesses in Sarasota, Manatee, Charlotte, Pinellas, Hillsborough and Pasco counties.
· Over 1,200 bottles of wine were used during the Trade Tasting.
· 1,200 tickets sold out within eight minutes of tickets going on sale
· Record time of ticket sales for any event in our area
· Over $100,000 in retail wine sales were recorded during F&C weekend
· Over 6,000 bottles of wine were sold during Forks & Corks weekend
· The Grand Tasting event raised over $30,000 for Ringling Museum
· Almost $13,000 was raised at the event’s silent auction for the All Faith’s Food Bank
· 8% of ticket purchasers resided outside the state of Florida
· 11% of ticket purchasers resided in Florida, but not in Sarasota or Manatee Counties
· 81% of ticket purchasers reside in either Sarasota or Manatee Counties
Photo by Peter Acker
About the Sarasota-Manatee Originals
The Sarasota-Manatee Originals is a not-for-profit trade organization founded in 2003. Together, more than 50 locally-owned, independent restaurants throughout Sarasota and Manatee Counties work collaboratively to celebrate and promote the creative cuisine of the region, from unique quick service eateries and waterfront family restaurants to award-winning fine dining establishments. Passionate member restaurateurs work together to produce community events, optimize cooperative marketing efforts and develop synergistic partnerships among members as they focus on preserving the culinary heritage of the region. With more Florida Trend and Zagat top-scoring restaurants within a 20-mile radius of downtown Sarasota than any other area in the Florida, the Sarasota-Manatee Originals is dedicated to sharing the area’s vibrant culinary scene with the world. For more information, call 365-2800 or visit www.dineoriginal.com.