Inaugural Louisiana Food and Wine Festival kicks off at SOWELA

Published: Sep. 14, 2023 at 8:09 AM CDT|Updated: Sep. 14, 2023 at 9:38 PM CDT
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LAKE CHARLES, La. (KPLC) - The inaugural Louisiana Food and Wine Festival kicked off tonight in Lake Charles. Founder Jan Gourley joined us this morning to talk about this extraordinary gastronomic experience showcasing local Louisiana cuisine and entertainment.

The Louisiana Food and Wine Festival is a celebration of the best culinary superstars and beverage experts of Southwest Louisiana. The festival, hosted by Visit Lake Charles and presented by Rouses Markets, allows attendees to get a taste of Louisiana’s unique Cajun and Creole heritage as well as its culture, seafood, artisans, live music, and more.

The festival will be from Sept. 14 through 17 with tickets and more information available HERE.

Locally Heavy Rain Potential


Thursday, Sept. 14

Louisiana’s Celebrity Chefs Wine Dinner at the SOWELA Culinary, Gaming and Hospitality Center 3841 Sen. J. Bennett Johnston Ave.

A gourmet food lover’s experience with a six-course dinner, featuring a host of Louisiana’s most celebrated chefs. Many guest chefs will include James Beard Foundation award-winning and nominated chefs will prepare a memorable feast, each chef’s course expertly paired with the perfect wine. A once in a lifetime dining experience, with very limited ticket availability.

Time: 6:00 pm Cocktail Reception, 7:00 pm Dinner

Tickets: $225 per person

Attire: Cocktail attire/Business, 21 years and over

Friday, Sept. 15

Louisiana Inspired Master Classes at the SOWELA Culinary, Gaming & Hospitality Building,3841 Sen. J. Bennett Johnston Ave.

The first three Master Classes will take place at SOWELA and the last class at Bayou Rum Distillery at 20909 Frontage Road in Lacassine.

Interactive and intimate learning experiences with celebrity guest chefs, cookbook authors and beverage experts. Each class includes tasting bites with a paired wine, beer, or signature cocktail.

Tickets: $65 per person per class

Master Class Pass for all Four Classes: $199 per person

Attire: Casual attire, 21 years and over

10:30 – 11:30 am -“Mastering Creole Cooking” with Chef Edgar “Dook” Chase IV, Chapter IV Restaurant, New Orleans, LA

Chef Dook will share some of his famous Creole family recipes inspired by his renowned grandmother, Leah Chase, James Beard Foundation award winner and the “Queen of Creole Cuisine”.

Chapter IV is named for Dook being a fourth-generation member of his family, and the restaurant being the fourth restaurant under his operation. Chef Dook trained for a lifetime under his grandmother, but he was also classically trained at Le Cordon Bleu Paris. Both the food and the atmosphere at Chapter IV represent a refined ode to the classics; all inspired by a legacy of service and promotion of the arts. Guests will get to sample some of Chef’s specialties, paired with Stella Artois.

12:00 pm – 1:00 pm - “Fried Shrimp & Grits, with pairings from Jackson Family Wines” with Celebrity Guest Chef Tiffany Derry and Mollie Battenhouse, Master of Wine with Jackson Family Wines

Join Chef Tiffany Derry as she demonstrates how to make her famous Fried Shrimp & Grits. Enjoy tasting a flight of four splendid Jackson Family Wines, paired by Mollie Battenhouse, Master of Wine. Experience learning why each bite of this delicious dish will taste a little different with each different wine.

1:30 – 2:30 pm - “Mijenta Tequila with Cajun Favorites” with Oscar Valle, Mijenta Tequila Brand Ambassador/Mixologist, Mexico and famous Cajun specialty food experts, Lake Charles, LA

Oscar Valle, Mijenta Tequila Brand Ambassador/Mixologist will guide guests through Mijenta’s varied portfolio of tequilas. At 17 years-old, Oscar began his career in the service industry in New York as a bar back for “Liquid Chef” Junior Merino, the famous mixologist known for creating the concept of the “kitchen-bar” fusion. There, Merino taught him the self-discipline and work ethic necessary to navigate him through some of the city’s biggest events. Currently he choreographs the moves behind Mijenta tequila in México. The award-winning, additive-free, sustainable tequila is distilled exclusively using fully mature Blue Weber agave from the highlands of Jalisco.

Guests will get to sample Oscar’s signature Mijenta cocktail creations along with authentic, locally made Cajun cuisine, ranging from Crawfish & Shrimp Boudin Balls to Homemade Pork Cracklin’s – all expertly paired with Mijenta cocktails!

3:30 – 5:00 pm - “Taste the Flavors of Louisiana” with Reiniel Vicente Diaz, Master Distiller, Bayou Rum Distillery

Reiniel Vicente Diaz, Master Distiller of Bayou Rum Distillery will guide the class through a premium tasting of some of Bayou Rum Distillery’s premier brands. The Bayou Rum Distillery tasting will include perfectly paired bites with each exquisite rum and will include a tour of Bayou Rum Distillery.

Reiniel, a second-generation rum maker, was born and raised in Sancti Spiritus, Cuba, a city immersed in the art of rum production. Growing up surrounded by sugar cane fields, sugar mills, and a rum distillation facility, Reiniel developed a deep appreciation and understanding of the craft. Following in the footsteps of his father, Omar Vicente, who served as the Master Blender of a prestigious Cuban rum distillery for 15 years, Reiniel’s destiny in the world of rum was set from a young age.

The ingredient central to rum – sugarcane – had been cultivated in the founders of Bayou Rum Distillery’s home state of Louisiana since the 1700′s, but no one had yet harnessed this abundant natural resource to create a top-notch, premium rum. Bayou® Rum Distillery opened its door in Lacassine, LA in 2013, utilizing traditional methods with state-of-the-art technology from fermentation through distillation, maturation and bottling, Bayou Rum has earned its title of #1 Craft Rum in America*.

Fire on the Lake at 1111 Bord du Lac Park, Bord du Lac Dr., in Lake Charles.

This grilling and BBQ Extravaganza is a showcase of the south’s most celebrated chefs, Pitmasters and grill masters with live music and wine, beer and spirits along Lake Charles. Enjoy unlimited food and beverage tastings with a souvenir glass. A variety of culinary creations will be available, from the freshest Louisiana Seafood options to select meats, along with vegetarian options. Delicious grilled, roasted and smoked gourmet-tasting bites will be showcased, including options for all palates.

Tickets: $99 per person

Attire: Casual, 21 years and over

Saturday, Sept. 16

Louisiana Food & Wine Festival, Grand Tasting at 1111 Bord du Lac Park, Bord du Lac Drive in Lake Charles.

A fun afternoon of culinary and beverage tastings, with live music in the beautiful surroundings of Lake Charles, along the Bord du Lac. Tickets are all-inclusive for food and beverage tastings, including a souvenir glass for unlimited beverage tastings from hundreds of wines, beer and spirits exhibitors and samplings from some of Louisiana’s best chefs.

There will also be a live performance from the Flamethrowers at the Paragon Casino Resort Music Stage.

Enjoy food and beverage artisan booths, live music, cooking demonstration stages and the Best Taste Awards, Presented by Acadiana Profile Magazine and Louisiana Seafood!

Time: 2:00 pm – 5:00 pm

Tickets: $139 per person

Attire: Casual, 21 years and over

Louisiana Cookin’ Demo Stage Schedule:

  • 2:15 – 2:45 pm: Kristin Preau, Jambalaya Girl, Chef/Owner, New Orleans, LA
  • 3:00 – 3:30 pm: Anthony Goldsmith, Kajun Twist & Grill, Lockport, LA and Louisiana’s Cajun Bayou Tourism
  • 3:45 – 4:15 pm: Owen Hohl, 2023 Louisiana Seafood Cook-Off King, Hot Tails Restaurant, New Roads & Prairieville, LA
  • 4:30 – 5:00 pm: Michael Gottlieb, Tchefuncte’s Restaurant & The Anchor, Madisonville, LA and Jeremy Reilly, Restaurant Cote’ and The Maple Room, Slidell, LA, Visit The Northshore

Sunday Jazz Brunch at Coffee:30 Gourmet Coffee & Beignets at Southlake Theater, 4720 Nelson Road

This lively Jazz Brunch is one like no other, with an all-inclusive priced ticket featuring unlimited beverage tastings with a souvenir glass, live Jazz music, a lavish brunch with carving stations, Louisiana Seafood stations, made-to-order omelet stations, variety of desserts and more. A variety of the festival’s official beverage partners will participate with an impressive Bloody Mary Bar, Mimosas, sparkling wines, sprits, wine and beer and more. A fantastic festival finale event!

There will also be live music from Jay Ecker Trio, Acoustic Jazz Ensemble.

Time: 11:00 am – 1:00 pm & 1:00 pm – 3:00 pm (11:00 am Seating Sold Out)

Tickets: $99 per person

Attire: Business casual, Family-Friendly