Inaugural Louisiana Food and Wine Festival continues throughout the weekend

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Published: Sep. 15, 2023 at 10:25 AM CDT
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LAKE CHARLES, La. (KPLC) - The inaugural Louisiana Food and Wine Festival is already leaving quite the impression as the Celebrity Chefs Wine Dinner was held at the SOWELA Culinary, Gaming and Hospitality Center last night.

It was a way for students to work with the best culinary superstars and beverage experts of Southwest Louisiana but the extraordinary event doesn’t stop there.

The all inclusive tickets to the festival will allow all the food, wine, and spirits you can drink, and is creating an experience.

The festival has an entire line up of events throughout the weekend that will allow those who attend to challenge their tastebuds through Louisiana’s Cajun and Creole culture as well as its seafood, artisans, live music, and community.

Founder, Jan Gourley, said that Lake Charles has never seen anything like this and that the excitement has been building for months.

“We’ve been looking at the site plan now for about 3 months so just seeing all these tents finally up is so exciting” says Gourley. “I don’t think Lake Charles has ever seen anything like this. If anybody’s ever been to a national food and wine festival, that’s the caliber of this event.”

Gourley told KPLC that this event is bringing stars from all over to this area and the impact is incredible including the series of interactive and intimate sessions with guest celebrity chefs, cookbook authors, beverage experts, tastemakers, artisans and more – classes to be announced soon.

“Tonight we have a whole slate of culinary classes that are almost sold out. We have a few tickets left, but Chef Tiffany, Dairy Master, chef Food Network Star is doing one with Molly Battenhouse who is a master of wine. We’ve got Chef Edgar Chase from Dooky Chase’s Restaurant, New Orleans doing a class” said Gourley.

Inaugural Louisiana Food and Wine Festival

Not only are the chefs teaching all of their tricks and tips to those attending the classes but they will also share and mentor culinary students that attend SOWELA.

Chef Jerry Sonnier is the Culinary Arts Instructor and Program Coordinator for SOWELA Technical Community College and says that the celebrity dinner was a hit and a great opportunity for students.

“Students loved it they loved working with celebrity chefs, and it Just gave them a different outlook on where they can be in the future” said Sonnier.

One student, Lionel Gilbert, told KPLC it’s something he has dreamed about since he was a child; “I can tell you it was definitely an experience, something I’ve dreamed about since I was a child, because I love to cook.”

Sonnier says though the event is large they have worked to make sure students can spend time at different places and throughout the festival to help.

“We’ve actually broke up into days where students are going to different venues, we had them all at the college last night and then tonight and Saturday night as well. Saturday night as well they will be going to be at different venues helping out with the celebrity chefs in their meal preparation” said Sonnier.

Locally Heavy Rain Potential

Candy Rodriguez is the Director of Communications for Visit Lake Charles and says that this event is having a big impact upon the community.

“We have 3000 people plus coming from all around the country, the world just to Southwest Louisiana for this festival” said Rodriguez. “The Louisiana Food and Wine Festival is so much more than just a festival. Of course we’re going to have plenty of food, plenty of drinks, but a lot of our events are scattered across the area so it allows people to not just stay in on place but explore everything that Lake Charles and Southwest Louisiana has to offer.”

The event continues tonight at 6:30 with Fire on the Lake for everyone 21 and up. The Fire on the Lake event will host a grilling and barbeque extravaganza featuring chefs, pit and grill masters from all across Louisiana and the south.

Rodriguez encourages everyone to come out and experience what the rest of the state and what the south has to offer through the food.

Whether that be if you’re into meat or even if you are vegetarian. “You’re going to have some of the freshest Louisiana seafood, some of the best wines, some of the best spirits and some of the best beer around. This is going to be an event like none other” said Rodriguez.


Master Classes: 11 a.m.-4 p.m.

  • SOWELA Culinary, Gaming and Hospitality Center – 3841 Sen. J. Bennett Johnston Ave., Lake Charles
  • A series of interactive and intimate sessions with guest celebrity chefs, cookbook authors, beverage experts, tastemakers, artisans and more – classes to be announced soon.

Fire on the Lake: 6:30-8:30 p.m.

  • Bord du Lac Park – 1111 Bord du Lac Dr., Lake Charles
  • A quintessential Louisiana faire la fête and a live fire cooking extravaganza with a variety of meats, Louisiana Seafood and more – highlighted by some of the south’s most celebrated Pitmasters, celebrity guest chefs, local chefs and grill masters.
  • Enjoy unlimited food and wine, beer, and spirits tastings with a souvenir glass, along with Zydeco from Horace Trahan & the Ossun Express, along the shoreline of beautiful Lake Charles.


Grand Tasting: 2-5 p.m.

  • Bord du Lac Park – 1111 Bord du Lac Dr., Lake Charles
  • “A fun afternoon of culinary and beverage tastings, with live music in the beautiful surroundings of the Bord du Lac Park. Tickets are all-inclusive.”
  • Food and beverage tastings, including a souvenir glass for unlimited beverage tastings from hundreds of wines, beer and spirits exhibitors.
  • Silent Auction
  • Rouses Markets Cooking Demonstration Stage
  • Louisiana Craft Brews Alley
  • Best Taste Awards
  • Taste of Louisiana Alley with samplings from some of Louisiana’s best chefs from around the entire state.


Sunday Jazz Brunch: 11 a.m.-1 p.m. seating, 1-3 p.m. seating

  • Southlake Crossing shopping center – 4720 Nelson Rd, Suite 110, Lake Charles
  • “This lively festival finale event, the Sunday Jazz Brunch, will be one like no other, with an all-inclusive priced ticket featuring unlimited beverage tastings with a souvenir glass, live music, a lavish brunch with carving stations, Coffee:30 signature coffee drinks and beignet station, salad bars, 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, beer and more.”

SEPT. 11 – 17

Festival Happenings Week

  • “A variety of tastings, dinners and events taking place in partner restaurants, bars and more throughout Lake Charles during the week of the festival will be announced in July 2023.”

For tickets and more information click here.