The inaugural West Hartford Wine and Food Festival took place at Kingswood Oxford school Saturday. Nearly 30 restaurants and 35 wine tables featured local cuisine and beverages all for a good cause.
Among the restaurants featured at the event were Millwright's Restaurant, Grants Restaurant and Bar, INDIA, Firebox Restaurant, Zohara Mediterranean Kitchen, and Chango Rosa tacos. More than 250 different wines were featured.
The event benefitted the town's Independent Schools, including Kingswood Oxford, The American School for the Deaf, The Intensive Education Academy, Renbrook School, The Watkinson School, Northwest Catholic, and St. Brigid-St. Augustine Partnership School.
"People usually don't think Independent Schools need the funds but they actually do because they give a lot of scholarships," said Lindsay Perkins, Director of Culinary for Camp KO at Kingswood Oxford.
The Intensive Education Academy is a local K-12 special needs school that will benefit from the event.
"We're getting the kids out into field trips and things like that that bring them beyond the curriculum and really supplement their education in a way that they need," said Christiana Connery from IEA. "We're a nonprofit school so we're constantly fundraising for ourselves, so someone helping us do that fundraising is all the better."
The festival's charity focus helped draw some of the region's top chefs. Chef David Borselle, co-owner of Park and Oak Restaurant, said his restaurant wanted to help give back to local students in the community.
“Park and Oak chose to be here to support the school systems in the area and the programs they have going on, which are fantastic helping with diversity, helping kids get into the schools who otherwise couldn’t,” Borselle said.
There was a lot of buzz at the event surrounding the growth of West Hartford's food scene.
"West Hartford is definitely becoming a mecca for food and wine," said Jeannette Dardenne, from Eat IN Connecticut, which put on the event. "We really felt like this was the right time to bring it and there would be a lot of support from the community. This gives an opportunity for people to see the restaurants, the caliber of what they can do, and their cooking.”
Saturday's event was a long time in the making.
“We’ve wanted to do a culinary event for 10 years,“ said Brian D. Whitney of sponsor Maximum Bevarge.
Whitney said it was all about finding the right supporter to host such a large event.
"Kingswood has been an incredible host for this event," Whitney said. "It’s a big event. We expect over 1,000 people and it’s a lot of wear and tear on the property but [Kingswood Oxford] has been terrific.”
The event also included a blind tasting and a Wine 101 tutorial.