Natchez Food and Wine Festival starts Friday

Published 12:28 am Sunday, July 29, 2007

A renowned butler will add a little royalty to next weekend’s Sixth Annual Natchez Food and Wine Festival.

Paul Burrell, butler to Queen Elizabeth and Princess Diana, will be the feature speaker at a Sunday brunch, a wine and cheese tasting and a British high tea.

Burrell’s own line of wines will be featured.

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“Paul will be discussing wine and food pairing,” organizer Cindy Cochran said. “He will also talk about his experience helping prepare for entertaining.”

Although the festival regularly invites out-of-town and expert chefs, Burrell is the first celebrity guest, Cochran said.

That sparked a running theme, she said.

“Since he was a butler for Princess Diana, they’re all royal events,” she said.

Along with being a big party, the food and wine festival serves as a fundraiser for a scholarship fund, helping local students go to culinary school, Regina Charboneau, one of the event’s co-founders, said.

The festival has bloomed over the past six years, she said.

“The food festival has literally grown five times from the original sales,” she said. “Each year, it gets better and better. It’s really kind of a force to be reckoned with.”

The event adds to the Miss-Lou economy, too, she said.

“All those people stay at hotels, eat at restaurants and shop downtown,” she said. “It’s really turned into a great weekend.”

This year, new events like a mixology class and the wine and cheese tasting joined the lineup.

“The neatest thing is that we’ve added a chef’s party at Bowie’s (Tavern),” event chair René Adams said. “A lot of the out-of-town chefs said by the time they got everything done, they didn’t have enough time to mingle with everybody.”

The ticket to the Friday night dinner gets revelers into the chefs’ party free, she said.

Already, some events are sold out, so people should make reservations now, she said.

The progressive lunch is sold out, as are most of the dinners and the high tea.

The festival will kick off with “Tastings Along the River,” a giant food and wine tasting, starting at 6:30 p.m. Friday.

Saturday starts off with the fourth annual Martha White biscuit cook-off at 8 a.m. After that, a free film festival will be at the convention center from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.

The Royal Wine and Cheese Tasting is at 2 p.m. Saturday, and the Southern Cocktails class will be at 3:30 p.m.

The night will wrap up with Brews on the Bluff at Bowie’s Tavern at 5 p.m.

Also Saturday night, area antebellum houses will host An Invitation to the Natchez Table, four-course dinners.

At 11 a.m. Sunday, a Royal Brunch with a Creole Flair will feature Burrell at the Castle at Dunleith.

For more information, visit For tickets, call Natchez Pilgrimage Tours at 601-446-6631.