by Walter Bender

FEASTIVAL, a benefit for the Philadelphia Live Arts Festival and Philly Fringe held at Pier 9 on Philadelphia's Waterfront on September 14.

I have to tell you all up front, I love this job…

One of the events that is part of the Philly Live Arts Festival and Philly Fringe is FEASTIVAL 2011. This is the second year of FEASTIVAL, a restaurant tasting, auction, and entertainment event co-hosted by local food celebrities Chef Michael Solomonov, Stephen Starr and Audrey Claire Taichman. This year 75 Philadelphia area restaurants provided tasting booths, live performances by some very talented local performers, a live mural painting by Philly’s Mural Arts Program, numerous aerial acrobats, a silent auction and much more…all in a warehouse at Pier 9 on the Philly Waterfront.

The people who put FEASTIVAL together did a terrific job converting this warehouse into a chic entertainment and food venue for the evening. Scaffolding on one side of the warehouse became a stage for a number of tutu-wearing acrobats; a very limber young lady poured champagne upside-down from a perch above, two other aerial artists hovered above the bar area, sometimes swooping down to startle unsuspecting patrons. Other aerialists did a Cirque du Soleil-style display over the food tasting areas, providing a never-ending source of camera phone picture opportunities. The auction items were on display as you entered the warehouse…a beautiful collection of artwork, food and wine gifts, sports memorabilia, and offers from some of the participating partners. One of the auction items (a Dream dinner with T Feury, Michaud, Perrier, Schulson, Solomonov, Stern, and Vetri sommelier Steve Wildy) was purchased for $15,000.

Walking around the restaurant booths, there were various styles of foods on display for guests to sample. Since I was assigned to this event and I represent all of you, I did my best to sample a wide variety of the offerings. There were far too many to mention them all, but among my favorites were the Tuna Tostadas from Square 1682, The Black Tiger Shrimp Ceviche from Audrey Claire, and the Keftedes (a veal meatball) from OPA. Perhaps my favorite two food offerings were the Cheesesteak Pretzel Roll Burger from PYT (a succulent slider with a delicious cheese topping in a pretzel roll bun) and the Hudson Hawk Potted Duck (a beautiful fois gras with an orange gelee topping) from JG Domestic, one of Chef Garces’ restaurants (Editor’s Note: check out Walt’s review of Chef Garces here). Speaking with the hostess at that booth, I was told that even with the ever-changing menu at JG Domestic, the Potted Duck is a restaurant staple. Popular favorites among the guests were the Deep Fried Chicken Drumsticks from ?uest Loves Food, and the donuts from the soon-to-open Federal Donuts, the latest opening by Chef Solomonov.

One of the aerial artists who entertained guests at FEASTIVAL, celebrating Philadelphia's artistic and cultural scenes.

There were a number of local celebrities that attended the event…I saw food icon Chef Perrier around his booth, and other chefs were there to meet the public. The event also honored former PA Governor Ed Rendell, who seemed to enjoy the event tremendously, even when it was difficult for him to get to the food because of the many people who wanted to greet the ex-Gov.

FEASTIVAL 2011 was a smashing success, at least with those in attendance. The food, the entertainment, the company, and the atmosphere made for a delightful evening for all, and all proceeds (including the auction purchases) benefit the Live Arts Festival and Philly Fringe. I hope to attend FEASTIVAL for many more years…congratulations to everyone who made the evening a pleasure.

September 14, 2011
Pier 9, 121 N. Columbus Boulevard
Philadelphia, PA

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