The inaugural Newport Beach Wine and Food Festival indulged the senses

As we walked up to the brand new Newport Beach Civic Center, the architecture is very aquatic and nautical – wavy lines and floor to ceiling glass for natural light. The event space in the courtyard was laid out perfectly for ample spacing between food & wine vendors so foot track moved pretty freely throughout. The color scheme was coastal with white, sandy gray, and sea foam green accented in the tents, pillows (yes, pillows on benches), and tablecloths. The morning cloud coverage stayed for a while to keep it cool.

My first mission was to get a great seat to see the first cooking demonstration of the day. The Outdoor Kitchen was set and sponsored by Whole Foods. Chef Joe Youkhan, owner of The Tasting Spoon Food Truck and Catering and winner of Chopped!, demonstrated how to make Peruvian Pork Belly Sliders. Inspired by his sous chef, Miguel, the recipe came from Miguel’s mother and then Chef Joe added his classic flair as he prepped the ingredients and fielded questions from the audience about the recipe and cooking techniques. And as expected, the Peruvian Pork Belly Sliders were onolicious! The brioche bun was branded on top with “TS” for Tasting Spoon and was butter glazed on the outside for a beautiful sheen and soft and chewy on the inside. The pork belly was melt-in-your-mouth tender and packed with flavor. This needs to go on the truck menu!

Chef Joe Youkhan and his sous chef, Miguel.