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Saratoga Wine & Food Festival adds flavors, flair

Saratoga Wine & Food Festival adds flavors, flair

Celebrities Ortiz, Burke, English slated for annual event at SPAC
Saratoga Wine & Food Festival adds flavors, flair
The Saratoga Wine & Food Festival runs Friday through Sunday at SPAC.
Photographer: provided

Saratoga Performing Arts Center is bringing a ballet of a different kind to town this weekend. 

One hundred and sixty drivers and owners from across the globe will be pulling into SPAC in a carefully choreographed dance the venue is calling a “Bugatti Ballet.” Among the 80 cars will be two of the rarest variety, Bugatti Type 57SC Atlantics. One is owned by fashion mogul Ralph Lauren, the other by the Mullin Automotive Museum in California, and each is worth more than $40 million.

The automotive dance is part of the Saratoga Wine & Food Festival, which runs from Friday to Sunday. The event brings together celebrities -- including former Boston Red Sox slugger David "Big Papi" Ortiz, chef and restaurateur David Burke, and Todd English, a celebrity chef, restaurateur, author and television personality -- along with rare cars and rare foods. It's SPAC's largest fundraising event of the year, specifically for its educational programs. 

“We have expanded. We went from serving 5,000 kids to serving 23,000 kids in the last 18 months, and we really want to double that in the next year or two,” said Elizabeth Sobol, SPAC's president and CEO. 

The festival has been a tradition for the past 18 years, and one that Sobol is hoping to build upon. 

“What I’ve really tried to do here at SPAC is maintain traditions, but then also enhance them with different kinds of experiences and some more intimate types of experiences in different locations to give people a sense of newness and discovery,” Sobol said. 

SPAC has partnered with the Saratoga Automobile Museum to bring the Bugattis and with Colin Cowie, an event artist who is relatively new to the area, though many have known his name for years. 

“I’ve begun to think of Saratoga as the city of synchronicity,” Sobol said. 

Just as Sobol was starting to plan the festival, Cowie announced he was bringing his company, Colin Cowie Lifestyle, to Saratoga Springs. 

Though his local office has only been open since this year, Cowie has been in the business of event and wedding planning for more than 30 years. 

“I called my business lifestyle before lifestyle was even a term,” Cowie said.

The event artist has also created and appeared on shows like “Everyday Elegance,” “Get Married” and “Open House.” With his partnership with SPAC, he’s bringing his “five senses” approach to the festival. Cowie plans to take the event up a notch, making in chicer and a bit more curated. 

“I think we’ll be able to move the needle considerably this year. You’ll certainly see it in the look and the feel and the experience,” Cowie said.

Also this weekend:

That will be on full display Sunday during a brunch with Cowie and English, an Emmy-nominated celebrity chef and TV star. 

“We wanted to make this a really fun, sexy, boozy, brunch. The type you would see in New York, Miami, St. Barts, and all these fabulous destinations. We thought we’d bring a taste of that, and  how much fun is it to be able to get a jumpstart on your brunch while test driving a Ferrari?” Cowie said.

Guests will get to test drive a Ferrari before sampling Whispering Angel Rose, with specialty cocktails by the "Cocktail Architect," Yusef Austin. 

Cowie will be joining English in the kitchen to prepare chicken and waffles, an egg dish with caviar and other recipes. There will also be live music by On The Move. 

“It’s going to be a great curated experience,” Cowie said, “We have all the right ingredients and lots of them.”

Besides brunch, there will be a grill competition on Friday with celebrity chef David Burke and other guest chefs. Former Red Sox player Ortiz will make a guest appearance during the competition, and he’ll also be hosting a party in the VIP nightclub afterward. 

With new chefs and Bugattis from around the world on display, the festival will have a more international focus. Chef Kusakabe will prepare traditional sushi and other Japanese dishes. Attendees can taste-test these dishes, along with wine and other curated food, on Saturday as part of the Grand Tasting event that runs from noon until 4 p.m. 

“I really dream of this festival becoming an international destination event. So I wanted to introduce some international components this year,” Sobol said. 

The festival will also be held by the reflecting pools for the first time this year, which makes for a more open area and a new experience for attendees. 

Those who can't attend the event but want to catch a glimpse of the Bugatti cars should head to downtown Saratoga at 4:30 p.m. Saturday. They'll be parading down the Avenue of the Pines, then will be assembling side-by-side to parade north on Broadway to Ellsworth Jones Place near the Saratoga Springs City Center. 

“We wanted to make sure that everybody had a chance to see them,” Sobol said. 

Festival events

Adirondack road tour and gourmet luncheon 
10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Friday 
Professionally led tour through the Adirondacks culminating with a lunch at the historic Lake George Club. 

Fired Up! Grill competition featuring David Burke and David Ortiz
7-10 p.m. Friday
Chefs from across the Capital Region will be battling to see who gets the 2018 Saratoga Grill Master title. Tickets are $100.
During that time, Ortiz will be doing a meet-and-greet event from 7 to 7:50 p.m. Tickets are $150. 

Party with Big Papi in VIP nightclub from 8:30 to 10 p.m. 
A chance to mingle and meet Ortiz while sipping Arias wines and hors d’oeuvres. Each guest will receive an autographed bottle of Arias. 
Tickets are $200. 

Grand tasting 
Noon to 4 p.m. Saturday
International foods to taste along with New York’s finest creations. There will also be live music and guest appearances, along with an “Iron Chef”-inspired competition featuring James Beard award-winning chef David Burke. 
Tickets are $100. 

Brunch with Colin Cowie and Todd English
11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday 
Cowie and English will host an upbeat brunch, with specialty cocktails, music and a chance to test drive a Ferrari. 
Tickets are $150. 

For more information visit spac.org

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