Chefs Against Hunger

The New Orleans restaurant community bands together on Sunday, July 13, to fight hunger during Share Our Strength's local "Taste of the Nation" event. Billed as a "New Orleans-style culinary extravaganza," the fundraising event features local chefs serving tasting portions of house specialties, as well as fine wine, live music and a silent auction.

Led by Bayona's Susan Spicer, the local Save Our Strength contingent includes representatives from Peristyle, Bacco, GW Fins, Charley G's, Lilette, Jacques-Imo's Cafe, Emeril's, Dickie Brennan's Steakhouse, Marisol, K-Paul's, Zoe Bistrot, Rio Mar and many others.

Now in its 16th year, the "Taste of the Nation" program dedicates all ticket proceeds to hunger-fighting organizations (70 percent to local groups, with the balance split between statewide and international relief efforts). Local beneficiaries include the Second Harvester's Food Bank, Bread for the World and My House.

The afternoon event will be held from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. at the Crowne Plaza Astor New Orleans Hotel (739 Canal St.). Tickets are $50 per person in advance ($60 at the door) and are available at Martin Wine Cellar (3827 Baronne St; 714 Elmeer Ave., Metairie) or by calling 525-1110.

High-Level Wine Studies

Ever dream of getting your doctorate in wine culture? On July 8 and 9, Restaurant Cuvee and the Court of Master Sommeliers will co-host an intensive introductory course for advanced oenophiles in search of the wine world's highest title. The two-day course and its extensive exam (yes, there will be a test) are the first of three grueling phases required for Master Sommelier certification.

Most students come from the restaurant trade (working wine stewards and other hospitality folk), where the title is held by only 104 wine experts worldwide, about half of which currently work in the United States. This course will cover international wine geography, aspects of professional wine service, blind tastings and production methods from grape to glass. The classes run from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m on the trading floor of the New Orleans Board of Trade (322 Magazine St.). Cost of the class is $450.

In conjunction with the class, Cuvee's Executive Chef Robert Iacovone prepares a special wine-tasting dinner following the final sessions. The five-course meal will be accompanied by 10 specially matched vintages for $125 (all-inclusive).

For information on the Master Sommelier program or for reservations to the tasting dinner, call Cuvee's general manager/wine director Jeff Kundinger at 587-9001.

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