Destin Charity Wine Auction Foundation is again hosting wine dinners to coincide with the upcoming area wine festivals. This year, they are associated with the new South Walton Beaches Wine & Food Fest taking place April 26-28.
A major component of the festival is the annual Patron Pairing Dinners, which take place on April 26.
These dinners usually sell out weeks in advance to those hungry for the ultimate wine and food pairing experience. The majority of the dinners take place in the intimate setting of private homes, with some taking place in restaurants.
The pairings are a combining of the talents of area and regional chefs with vintners who will be pouring their wines during the wine festival.
This year's festival will feature 12 home dinners and two in restaurants.
One of the featured chefs this year will be Chef Jude Tauzin from Opelousas, La.
Tauzin was named by Louisiana Cookin' magazine as one of the top five "Chefs to Watch" in Louisiana in 2008 and has garnered accolades from Southern Living and Gourmet magazine. He is the Corporate Chef for Tony Chachere Creole Foods in Opelousas since 2012.
For this year's wine pairing dinner Tauzin is paired with Merry Edwards of Merry Edwards Winery at the home of Jeff and Doreen Eckmann. Still in the process of putting the final touches on his menu, Tauzin said the meal for 50 people will consist of seven courses with no Cajun or Louisiana dishes per se, but diners will probably detect his Cajun flair in each dish.
"I grew up in Louisiana watching my mother and grandmothers and always trying to lend a helping hand. In my own cooking I try and use as many Louisiana ingredients as possible and use them in the season they are freshest. So, while I won't be preparing Cajun dishes, they will probably have Cajun flair," he said.
Tauzin said Edwards presented him a list of the wines she will pour and he took it from there in creating the menu.
One dish he will prepare will be a pear upside down cake served with ice cream, which he has paired with a Merry Edwards sauvignon blanc.
This is Tauzin's second year to participate in the event.
"Last year, I met some great people and had a great time doing this and helped raise a great deal of money for children's charities," said Tauzin, who has three kids of his own.
A patron of the dinners recommended Tauzin last year and DCWAF President John Russell invited him back.
"Jude did a fabulous job for us last year in quality and presentation," said Russell.
The chef list for the dinners include local chefs Tim Creehan and Dan Vargo, as well as more from top restaurants in Atlanta, Louisiana, South Beach, a couple from the Keys, and one from Charleston.
"The men and menus are diverse," said Russell. "We try to move them around each time and keep it interesting."
Each host chooses a children's charity their dinner will benefit and a representative speaks at that dinner about the charity.
"One-hundred percent of the proceeds from the dinners go to charity and all profits from the festival," said Russell.
Several of the dinners have already sold out. There are a few seats left at $2,500 a couple. Tickets are available for purchase on the website at www.dcwaf.org.