Top 5 Events You Better Not Miss at the Pinehurst Food & Wine Festival

It’s annually one of the best weekends of the year in Pinehurst.

And let’s face it, that’s really saying something.

The Pinehurst Food & Wine Festival returns for its 26th season on Labor Day weekend from Aug. 29-Sept. 1. It’s a huge value considering the myriad events going on in that short 3-day span, so take a moment and get a look at all of them here.

That said, here are one connoisseur’s 5 events you




*Certainly, it goes without saying that wonderful wines and brilliant wine experts are featured at every turn, and that the variety of wine tastings and seminars are through the roof. Carefully peruse them all here. You won’t be disappointed. This Top 5 list is just one opinion. Please feel free, in the comments below, to highlight the events you are most interested in.


The Wine & Dine Reception

The Wine & Dine Reception

5. Wine & Dine Reception/Grand Dessert Buffet & Tasting

Wine & Dine – Friday, 7-9 p.m., Carolina Hall

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Dessert Buffet 9-11, Carolina Hotel

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Putting these two together because they really go hand-in-hand. The Wine & Dine Reception is the first BIG event of the festival, and is a dramatic entry into the weekend-long celebration of food and drink. The Donald Ross Grill is transformed, Pinehurst Resort Executive Chef Thierry Debailleul prepares the fare and the setting around the Clubhouse’s South Veranda as the fading sun dips below the pines sets the mood for the entire weekend.


Dessert Buffet Joey Norombaba

Pinehurst Pastry Chef Joey Norombaba is an artist.

Then there’s the dessert buffet, which, um, is a DESSERT BUFFET. Pinehurst Pastry Chef Joey Norombaba is an artist, and everything is complimented by fine dessert wines.

Also, it should be mentioned, IT’S A DESSERT BUFFET.


Wine Festival

Eat. Drink. Learn.

4. Culinary Demo Luncheon

Saturday, 11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m.

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Day 2 opens with a bang. (Actually, Day 2 will probably begin at The Carolina Hotel’s famous breakfast buffet. Or at least it should. Important Tip: Leave the My Fitness Pal app at home for this vacation.)

The Culinary Luncheon is a live cooking show with the festival’s featured chefs. Huge variety here, multiple courses are involved, and everything is paired perfectly with the chefs’ choices of wines.

Eat, drink and learn. Not a bad philosophy.


2014 Wine Festival mast

3. Brewmaster’s Brunch

Sunday, 11:30 a.m.-2 p.m.

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Honestly, the name says it all, right?

This is an expansive buffet to go with a Pinehurst-styled beer garden featuring the best local Carolina craft breweries.

This should be a weekly thing.


2. Iron Chef Competition

Sunday, 2-3 p.m.

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OK, we all know what an Iron Chef competition is. But what’s really cool about this event is the upscale production of it – and the heart and soul Pinehurst chefs put into it. These guys REALLY want to win, and plus it’s a chance for them – and you, the customer – to see how their fare stands up to the immediate criticism of established chefs from around the country. The video above may be a little rough, but it gives you the idea. This is pure fun, and it’s an hour that absolutely races by.


1. Key West Gala Dinner

Saturday, 8-11:30 p.m.

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The centerpiece of the entire wine festival, this can not be missed. Celebrity chef Norman Van Aken is the star here, and prepares the dinner. Van Aken is known as the founding father of New World Cuisine, a celebration of Latin, Caribbean, Asian, African and American flavors. He is also known internationally for introducing the concept of “Fusion” to the culinary world.

He’s also the only Floridian inducted into the prestigious James Beard list of “Who’s Who in American Food and Beverage.” His restaurant “NORMAN’S” was nominated as a finalist for the James Beard Foundation’s “Best Restaurant in America” and has been a James Beard Foundation semi-finalist for “Best Chef in America.”

In other words, this guy is good. Real good.

And he’ll be here, in Pinehurst.

So should you.