About 500 guests turned out Sept. 16 for the eighth annual Southern Delaware Wine, Food & Music Festival at Nassau Valley Vineyards.
“The crowd sampled more than 100 varieties of wines, craft beers, cocktails; enjoyed delicious food from some of the area's most popular restaurants, as well as live music, a silent auction, blind wine tasting; and took their chance of choosing a bottle from the wine wall while donating $25 to charity,” said founder and festival organizer Stacy LaMotta. “I am grateful that so many people and sponsors have participated since I started this event in 2015. This year, our venue at Nassau Valley Vineyards couldn’t have been a more perfect spot. Special thanks go to the 2023 committee members and the 70 volunteers who made this happen.”
The festival has raised more than $220,000 for local charities in the last seven years; this year’s proceeds, which are still being tallied, will go to Head Start and Early Head Start Delaware.
Crowd pleasers at this year’s event included the festival's signature Chef Throwdown. Two female Delaware chefs faced off in the Chopped-style competition. Mystery basket ingredients included three live lobsters, chocolate and chilies. Chef Melissa Ferraro, founder of Sonora Restaurant and Outlandish Food Truck in Newark, and chef Tisha Dismuke, creator of Taste of Jazz in Rehoboth Beach, showcased their skills, craftsmanship and creativity as they prepared a dish for three judges in 30 minutes.
In the end, Dismuke took home the honors.
“This was my first chef competition, and I proudly wear this feather in my cap,” Dismuke said. “I am a Sussex County girl born and raised and am tickled to have represented the South with A Taste of Jazz. It was truly my honor to be a part of the SoDel Fest two years in a row and be in the Chef Throwdown with amazing Chef Melissa, a fierce competitor.”
Two Delaware musicians performed at the event, including Kerry Hallett, a local singer and guitar player who has been performing in the area since 2019, and up-and-coming singer-songwriter Callum Toner, a 16-year-old from Ocean City, Md.
Event sponsors include Price Automotive, Beebe Healthcare, Sysco Foods, the accounting firm Faw Casson, Hopkins and Sons Moving and Storage, and H.O.P.S. Portable Storage.
For more information, go to www.sodelfest.com.