Dust off your dapper blazers and flapper dresses, The Montclair Food and Wine Festival is turning The Wellmont Theater into a speakeasy, for one night only. There will be feathered boas strung from antique fixtures, classic cars, tuxedos, and a live brass band making the joint swing.
Oh, and the area’s hottest restaurants will be dishing out their favorite fare, which you can wash down with high-end hooch courtesy of beverage retailer Amanti Vino.
The cuisine will be a “cross-section of the diverse eateries that Montclair has to offer,” explained The Montclair Food and Wine Festival co-founder and co-president, Melody Kettle. “Some old staples; some new ones, with the intention to be as diverse with the ethnic profile as well.”
Past festival favorites returning for the Speakeasy include Chef Ariane Duarte (Ariane Kitchen & Bar), who will be serving deviled eggs with rock shrimp and caviar, and Chef Julian Valencia (Ani Ramen House) who will be serving slow-braised pork belly in sake and soy sauce, and raw bluefin tuna with fuji apple and flying fish roe.
Other cuisine available will include pork belly Cuban sandwiches courtesy of Chef Leia Gaccione of South + Pine, and mini cod sandwiches with Sriracha mayo from the folks at Oh My Cod. There will also be bites from Mezoco Mexican Taqueria, Bluff City BBQ, and B London; gourmet chocolate from Dolce Federica, and ice cream from Applegate Farms.
In all, more than two-dozen restaurants and ten beverage distributors will be serving beneath the ornate, 1920’s-era ceiling of The Wellmont Theater.
Worried you won’t be able to try everything? I am too. But these won’t be the same meal-sized servings offered at past The Montclair Food and Wine Festival events. The Wellmont Theater doesn’t have a kitchen, so the portions will be appetizer- or bite-sized, brought in from the restaurants and served at stations set up in the theater’s historic lobby.
Upon entry, festival-goers will be greeted by red linens and gold napkins, a photo-op setup, and a live performance by Trent Armand Kendall and The Brass Illusions.
As guests wait to check-in beneath The Wellmont Theater marquee, there will be luxury cars parked out front from the Celebrity Motor Car Company, including an antique 1920’s Cadillac, and a bouncer, a ‘rather burly thug-like guy dressed in a tux’.
“There will be a Lexus and a Maserati and then this classic, gorgeous Cadillac,” explained Kettle. “Which is actually a car from Tom Maoli, who owns Celebrity Motors, from his personal antique collection. So we’ll have those parked right out front, right in front of the marquee, and then my thug. So that’s how check-in will go, past the Cadillac and the thug.”
This ‘thug’ — bouncer — will be pulling people out of line while they wait to get inside. The bouncer is going to ask these possible patrons if they know the secret password. If they do, the bouncer will escort them directly inside. The secret password is going to be leaked on The Montclair Food & Wine Festival’s social media, here, here, and here.
The Speakeasy, scheduled for Saturday, January 28th, will open for General Admission at 7:30 p.m. General Admission tickets are on sale now for $97. VIP tickets are available for $187. The VIP tickets give guests entrance at 6:30 p.m., an hour before general admission. VIP guests will be treated to an exclusive collection of high-end wines — without the crowds.
The Montclair Food & Wine Festival is a nonprofit 501(c)3 that has held several large events since 2013. Proceeds from the Speakeasy will benefit Intensive Therapeutics, which provides pediatric physical therapy and rehabilitation, and also Montclair DIGS, which funds and supports produce gardens at local schools.