Fall is the season for food festivals and other food-focused events, and as the busy upcoming weekend for these celebrations demonstrates, they’re more than just an excuse to party. As fall finally gets rolling, they’re a chance to get out again, see friends, sample a huge variety of creatively-wrought, festival-themed food from local purveyors and support community causes.
One of the biggest of these events, the Louisiana Seafood Festival, takes over the City Park Festival Grounds on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, and a new one — Moonlight Market, a fundraiser for the Crescent City Farmers Market — makes its debut downtown on Saturday.
It’s normal to see chefs making the rounds at farmers markets. But Moonlight Market turns the tables a bit, with 20 chefs on the other side of the counter serving dishes inspired by the market harvest. The lineup includes chefs from some of the city’s modern classics, like Bayona, Clancy’s and Emeril’s, chefs from the Dickie Brennan, Donald Link and John Besh restaurant groups, and some new local standouts, like Cane & Table, Carrollton Market and Mopho.
There will be live music, “grain- and cane-to-glass cocktails,” a local craft beer garden and silent auction. The event begins at 7 p.m. at 725 Magazine St., a parking garage adjacent to the market’s normal Saturday location. The all-inclusive tickets cost $45. Get them in advance at crescentcityfarmersmarket.org.
Meanwhile, the Louisiana Seafood Festival is organized by the Louisiana Hospitality Foundation, a nonprofit that supports local children’s charities. It was formed by local hospitality industry heavies who know how to throw a good festival, and last year the event drew more than 45,000 people. The same format returns this weekend with a music lineup of well-known national bands (Gin Blossoms, Pat Green) and in-demand local acts (Honey Island Swamp Band, Flow Tribe) and two-dozen food booths that serve as the equivalent of individual stages for local restaurants to riff on seafood.
The offerings range broadly from traditional shrimp ravigote from Antoine’s Restaurant to “kung fu tuna,” a rambunctiously modern rendering of local fish and sushi bar flair from Seither’s Seafood. The shrimp meatball and pork belly po-boy from Lüke sounds intriguing, as do the Royal House redfish beignets.
New this year, festival attendees can vote at the event to name a best-in-show dish. Admission is free. For schedules, see louisianaseafoodfestival.com.
Follow Ian McNulty on Twitter, @IanMcNultyNOLA.