The Men Behind the Boca Raton Wine and Food Festival

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Several years ago, Robert Stanfield and Russell Spadaccini met at a networking event and quickly discovered their shared love for culinary arts.  For them, delving into food and wine adventures also made smart business sense.

They joined forces, marrying their professional expertise and began producing culinary festivals like this weekend’s Fourth Annual Boca Raton Wine and Food Festival. Russell comes from an information technology background, and Robert works as a communications professional.  Neither has a former experience in food, but they didn’t let that stop them.

Their event production efforts garnered success. Robert claims that the Boca Raton Wine and Food Festival is “the largest outdoor culinary affair in South Florida.” The duo also do other events including Deerfield Beach Festival, Galt Mile Wine & Food, and the wildly popular Boca Burger Battle.

The two are also life partners, and like anything in life, have found a seamless dynamic between work, love and family life.

"When you are a couple working together, you really have stick to your guns and have a good balancing act. I say when it comes to personal things to ‘leave it at the door,’” said Robert Stanfield. “We use the restaurant analogy with us being biz partners. Russell is the chef at the back of the house, and I am the maître d at the front of the house."

To keep their events on point and fresh, they frequently travel to vineyards and food destination cities.

“Each year Russell and I take a different trip to wine country in the United Sates,” said Stanfield. “Italy everyone knows about, but there are ones in the U.S. that are great. One of the wineries that we visited in Oregon had a garden where they grew spices and herbs. So we thought ‘wow, I don’t think a lot of people know what sort of plants go into wine making. Some have cocoa, herbs, and sage even.”

The three-day outdoor festival features a line-up of sit-down dinners, educational seminars, cooking demonstrations, chef talks, sustainable food lectures, a farmers market, live music, networking. A honey maker is coming in from North Florida to give an interactive lesson on endangered bees, how honey is made inside of hives.

“We have an entire farmer’s market set up to teach people how to grow food and make an urban garden for condo dwellers,” said Stanfield.

To foster a worldly vibe, the festival is divided up in regions from around the world like Italy, each is treated with authentic décor touches and music. Attendees can stroll about and go on a sensory journey.

The partners value independent sellers as apposed to massive enterprises. “We’ve brought in boutique chefs and restaurateurs to do the event as a way to support small businesses,” Spadaccini said.

This weekend’s shindig is open to families, children, and those with distinctive palates to those unfamiliar with the vast culinary offerings available.

“There is something for everyone from an elaborate four-course dinner and wine parings to everyday meals that you can make in your own home. We reached out to boutique chefs and eateries---- to help create biz locally----and will have over 70 tasting stations at our grand tastings, so someone with a high-end palate, and those without, will be pleased,” said Stanfield. “We’re also introducing a whole organic region this year, showing local and regional vegan and vegetarians chefs.”

2013 Festival Schedule

Friday, Nov. 8

Dinner Under The Stars, a four-course food and wine affair, 7 to 10 p.m.

Vineyard Party, A Vine to Glass Affair, 7:30 to 10 p.m.

Saturday, Nov. 9

Grand Tasting, A Culinary Affair, 6 to 10 p.m.

Sunday, Nov. 10

Jazz Bubbles & Brunch, A Social Affair, noon to 3 p.m.

Fourth Annual Boca Raton Wine and Food Festival occurs November 8, 9, and 10 at Boca Corporate Center and Campus, 5000 T-Rex Avenue. Visit  Ticket costs vary per event.Andrea Richard

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