Savor: A Celebration of Wine, Foods & Spirits @ Foxwoods Casino w/ Chef Robert Irvine, April 10-11

Emma Jane-Doody Stetson

As Connecticut continues to stake its claim as a culinary powerhouse, Savor- a celebration of wine, food, and spirits- will make its debut in Hartford on April 10 and 11Foxwoods Casino and celebrity chef Robert Irvine will join forces to celebrate local talent while raising money for important causes.  On Tuesday March 10, select trade and press received an exclusive sneak peak of what the new festival has to offer.  A floor of the Hartford Convention Center served as an impressive backdrop for the event.

The preview started out with food and wine pairings that provided a small sampling of what guests will experience at Savor.  Each dish, prepared by local chefs, complimented a specific wine, provided by event sponsor Murphy Distributors.  Attendees could go from station to station and receive a small plate as well as a taste of wine meant to be enjoyed in harmony.  The layout embodies the sentiment of Savor: dining as a complete sensory experience and the fusion of food and drink.

Memorable combinations included “Shrimp Casino” alongside the Sivas-Sonoma Sauvignon Blanc.  The dish consisted of a single skewered shrimp which was then grilled, wrapped in bacon, and served alongside fresh shredded vegetables.  It packed enormous flavor into a single bite.  The Sauvignon Blanc complimented it perfectly with notes of bright citrus and melon as well as bright acidity.  The wine heralds from widely-acclaimed Don Sebastiani and made its Connecticut debut at this event.

After guests had the opportunity to enjoy delicious food, they were treated to demonstrations by area chefs.  Savor will be rife with such presentations.  One demo was by Chef Franck Iglesias, who prepared a twist on Banana Foster.  Bite size portions of the dessert was implanted into small lollipop holders and topped with chocolate spheres that resembled golden pearls.

“You can’t go wrong with bananas, whiskey, and caramel,” says Iglesias.  “Whiskey is new for me…. I’m enjoying it lately.”

He also embraces the dessert for its versatility.

“In the spring, I do it with rhubarb,” he explains.

Iglesias will be present at Savor and already has desserts in mind.  While he would not divulge the details, he hinted at desserts based on colors- silver, gold, and more.  He also expressed preference for bite-size treats.

“The beauty is you can put them in your back pocket,” he chuckled.  “I like the small portion.  People will go back for it.”

Savor will benefit two worthy causes.  The Robert Irvine assists veterans and raises awareness about the sacrifices the individuals and their families make to preserve our freedom.  Helmets for Hardhats helps provide jobs for people leaving the military.  Predominately, the veterans take construction positions, but they have also gone on to be librarians, parks and recreation workers, and more.

“Those are our heroes,” said one speaker amidst applause.

Many people are working tirelessly behind the scenes to make Savor a culinary adventure to remember.  The impressive roster includes Vicky Cirilli whose resume includes past years of the Mohegan Sun Winefest.  Although she has worked on large events in the past, she promises that Savor will be a festival unlike any other.

“This is about the quality of the wines,” she explains.  “We are going for quality, not quantity.”

She also looks forward to the opportunity to highlight “talent in the state.”  She believes that Connecticut chefs are some of the nation’s best and wants to put their skills on display.

“These people don’t do huge events,” she says.

Savor’s Grand Tasting takes place in two sessions:  Friday, April 10 from  7-10:30pm and Saturday April 11 from 12-4pm.  Sample delicious wines, craft beers, and dishes while watching demos by celebrity chefs like Robert Irvine, Mary Ann Esposito, and Ming Tsai.  A “Savor in Style Charity Gala” will take place on Friday April 10 with a Chandon sparkling reception from  7:30-8pm and dining and dessert from 8-11pm.  To purchase tickets and see additional information, visit: