Celebrity chefs to headline Kohler fest

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As close to 8,000 people descend upon Kohler, Wis., later this month for the 14th annual Kohler Food and Wine Experience, they will have an opportunity to sample dishes and learn about pairings from top culinary experts and TV personalities like Graham Elliot, Christopher Kimball and Geoffrey Zakarian.


The annual event, presented by Kohler Co., transforms Kohler into what special events manager Tricia Rathermel describes as a “mecca” for food and wine.

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This year’s festival, scheduled to run Oct. 23-26, will feature 25 respected chefs from across the country, including Elliot, Kimball and Zakarian as well as Justin Carlisle, chef and owner of Ardent in Milwaukee, and Bradford Shovlin, executive chef of The Iron Horse Hotel.

Additional celebrity chefs planning to make an appearance include Jack Bishop, editorial director of “America’s Test Kitchen” TV show, and Bridget Lancaster, executive food editor and a cast member of “America’s Test Kitchen.”

Chefs will interact directly with festival attendees as they lead cooking demonstrations and hand out samples of their masterpieces.

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“We actually want you to taste and small and understand everything that’s going on,” Rathermel said.

The food and wine experience will also welcome about a dozen winemakers and winery owners, who will also be placed under the spotlight for demonstrations, seminars and tastings.

“It’s not very often that you actually get to meet the winemakers,” Rathermel said.

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Beyond wine, the festival will showcase pairings with beer and whisky to accommodate attendees’ “eclectic” tastes, Rathermel said, while giving attendees a chance to experience pairings they may have never before encountered.

Cocktails will also be incorporated into the food and wine extravaganza as mixologists showcase drinks like “Death’s Door” and “Casamigos” during the first-of-its-kind “On the Rocks Late Night Party,” scheduled for Saturday, Oct. 25. The event, which will cap Saturday’s festivities, will highlight small plate dishes prepared by Midwest chefs alongside the cocktails.

While Rathermel said the festival is one of the largest of its kind in the Midwest, with attendees coming from across the country, the small town feel of Kohler keeps it an intimate experience.

“You have more access to our celebrity talent because it’s a smaller, more intimate setting,” she said.

According to Rathermel, more than a third of festival events are sold out, but tickets are still available for select events and a lineup of complimentary events open to the public are also an option for attendees.

Ticket prices vary among events, beginning at $17.50. For more information on the food and wine experience’s schedule of events or to purchase tickets, visit www.kohlerathome.com.

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