Story, photos by Sharon Kozden
“I think eating is one
of the most delectable experiences
of radiant, sweet, sour, hot splashes
biting at your taste buds
that you could ever have.
Now imagine knowing how to maneuver
and manage these flavors from a cook’s perspective.
Pure power.” – Christopher Staab
I’m remembering with gastronomic bliss the evening of September 28th, when Audi FEASTIVAL joined FringeArts for what arguably deserves its reputation as Philadelphia’s “Party of the Year.” For eight years running, an assembly of over 75 of Philadelphia’s renowned restaurants and bars has combined their award-winning fare samplings with FringeArts raise-the-bar, always innovative entertainment, artistic and cultural wonderment.
FEASTIVAL first came to light, life and belly (in general, to all things artisanal) in 2010, after restauranteur Audrey Claire Taichman suggested a grand-scale blend of food, drink, culture and art to benefit FringeArts by reigning in “the artists, foodies, but also the movers and shakers … and the money.” Then and there, FEASTIVAL was birthed. Done deal. Eight years on, Audrey’s mission statement of sorts is exactly what one can expect from the event that could and does spiral out of control in the best possible way, breaking onto the Philadelphia scene (as one would break the Internet). Continuing its reputation and tradition as the place to be beneath the Ben Franklin Bridge along the Delaware River’s waterfront, September in Philadelphia is synonymous with FEASTIVAL.
This year’s bash was billed as “The Year of the Beard,” which had nothing to do with hirsuteness and everything to do with the James Beard Award recipients, Steven Starr, Michael Solomonov and Greg Vernick. Co-hosted by Nicholas Elmi (new gig for Nick this year), Mike Solomonov, Steven Starr and Audrey Claire Taichman, the smorgasbord of everything comprises a party worthy of loyal and newbie attendees and all that represents our fair city’s diversity on every level. As Taichman once said, “The better the art, the better the city.” When it comes to FEASTIVAL, that may be an understatement. Until you experience it firsthand, you can’t know what you’re missing, and when you do attend, the mind still boggles.
Performance art runs the soup-to-nuts gamut from edgy to outright outre, which marries exceptionally well with the equally extraordinary culinary dishes. This year’s entertainment included PECO’s Performance Cube, Circadium, Brian Sanders’ JUNK, Lux Arati, Red 40 & the Last Groovement and Almanac Dance Circus Theatre. The photos below will illuminate what puts the Fringe in FringeArts.
In addition to the aforementioned Co-hosts were Co-Chairs Tony Forte and Ryan Hummel, Jesse and Beka Rendell, Susan and David Lipson, Dr. Larry Kaiser and Lindy Snider. Such an extraordinary event bears mentioning and thanking at least some of the main sponsors as well as the committed efforts by all associated with Team FEASTIVAL, from the Board of Directors, staffers and myriad of volunteers. FringeArts Board President Richard Vague and Producing Director Nick Stuccio deserve kudos for their contributions as well. PECO, Philadelphia Magazine, Wells Fargo and the Abramson Family Foundation served as presenting sponsors, while Delaware Valley Audi Dealers was the dedicated title sponsor.
As always, both the silent and live auctions were massively successful courtesy of generous attendees’ obvious appreciation for FEASTIVAL’s commitment to the continued success of FringeArts and its contributions ensuring Philadelphia as a city to be reckoned with.
I extend a personal note of thanks to Shana Saddic, FEASTIVAL media and press contact from Cashman & Associates, a most gracious addition to the event.
Happy birthday 21st birthday, and many, many more, FringeArts! I’m already in search of my fat pants for FEASTIVAL, 2018.
Dr. Larry Kaiser, pictured in middle, who along with wife Lindy Snider, served as FEASTIVAL’s newest co-chairs.