It was something to behold: outstanding wines being poured while many of the culinary world's best chefs prepared their signature dishes for all to sample and savor. Friday's opening night gala was an auspicious prelude for the incredible weekend that would follow. Wine tastings, cooking demonstrations and seminars on par with any of the other major culinary festivals in the country, memorable meals, and the festive atmosphere of so many of our friends and neighbors simply enjoying themselves was nothing less than awe-inspiring. The success of The First Annual Summit Wine and Food Festival in many ways mirrors the efforts of the event organizers, participants, sponsors, and staff. But the true measure of its success lies with the public's overwhelming support of what could in time become the area's signature event and what it means to our community.

Initially, I was pleasantly surprised by the large turnout, although in retrospect it should not have come as a surprise at all when one considers the caliber of the chefs, sommeliers, speakers, and presenters who graciously accepted the invitation to participate. Eddy Osterland's seminar on "Power Entertaining with Wine and Food" and his Bordeaux tasting, for example, gave attendees a chance to learn a thing or two from America's first certified Master Sommelier and a premier wine educator. Culinary television personality Ingrid Hoffman brought her usual charm, elegance, and grace to her "Simply Delicioso" demonstrations. Saturday's five-course dinner was nothing short of spectacular; a tremendous epicurean feast with fabulous food and wonderful wines. And of course, who will ever forget Sunday's memorable First Feedbag Burger Summit (and the accompanying hailstorm!), where the humble yet iconic hamburger was raised to the level of haute cuisine (thanks to Josh Ozersky)?  I could go on and on about the various events that made the festival so successful, but I'll leave that to the journalists on the internet and in print media who gave the entire weekend stellar reviews.

As two-time Nobel Prize winner Linus Pauling once said, "The reward for a job well done is more work." Now we are faced with planning next year's festival, and we hope to make it even bigger and better than the last one. The current interest in traditional cocktails and "mixology" will certainly be addressed at the next festival, with more events featuring spirits and mixed drinks. Many attendees commented on the fact that they would have attended even more events had they not conflicted with multiple events held at the same time. We plan to address this as well by not scheduling more than two events at the same timeslot from now on.

It should be noted that for this event to continue to expand and grow, support and involvement from the local community is absolutely vital. I genuinely believe The First Summit Wine and Food Festival has tremendous potential and can be a boon and a great asset to our community, both economically and culturally. But this endeavor is no easy task to execute. Just the logistics of procuring donations of wines and foods, approaching corporate sponsors and bringing in all these wonderful chefs, winemakers and sommeliers from all over the country, among other organizational and financial aspects, proved to be quite daunting indeed. That the inaugural festival was so successful was due in no small measure to the many people who worked hard and diligently behind the scenes to make sure everything ran as smoothly as possible. This event in many ways belongs to all of us, and together we can transform it into one of the nation's best culinary festivals. I hope to see you in May of 2010!