The Outer Banks Taste of the Beach Food and Drink Festival 2017

The 2017 Taste of the Beach in the Outer Banks is scheduled for March 23–26. This year’s event will feature some of the most popular events from previous years, plus several new events to keep things interesting.

“We have a new event category called Pop-Up Oceanfront Restaurants, which is a neat concept we came up with,” says Audrey Webster, marketing manager for the Outer Banks Restaurant Association. “This year we have two dinners that are planned. One chef is doing a seven-course, paired wine dinner on Friday night. Then another chef is doing a five-course, paired dinner at the same house on Saturday night. It’s a fantastic opportunity for people to be able to literally dine on the oceanfront, in a gorgeous, luxury home.”

The home is the Grande Paradise, a 16-bedroom oceanfront home in Kill Devil Hills, provided by Carolina Designs Realty. The Friday night dinner there is Carolina Designs’ Tarheel 7-Course Pop-Up Dinner with Chef Dawn Williams. The Saturday night dinner is the Grande Paradise Oceanfront Pop-Up Dinner hosted by Carolina Designs and Chef Pok Choiechom.

“One of the other new events this year that is particularly exciting is one of our cornerstone events,” Webster notes. “We feature one main event each day of the festival. On Thursday, we are having a six-course NC Chef’s Wine Dinner and Taste of the Beach Kickoff Event, in lieu of the usual Kickoff Party we have done in the past. We have three chefs coming in from other areas of the state joining with three local chefs, and each of the six chefs is going to do a course.” The six chefs include Keith Rhodes from Catch Restaurant in Wilmington; Clark Barlowe—who was recently on Beat Bobby Flay on the Food Network—from Heirloom Restaurant in Charlotte; John May from Piedmont Restaurant in Durham; Scott Surratt from The Inn At Pamlico Sound in Hatteras; Daniel Lewis from Coastal Provisions Oyster Bar & Wine Bar Café in Southern Shores; and Bud Gruninger from Basnight’s Lone Cedar Café in Nags Head, who is also the host of the event.

Photo by Neil GT Photography

OBX Taste of the Beach started as a one-day event back in the mid ’80s and grew to a four-day event in 2008. As it has grown, so has the list of event categories, which now offers something for everyone including $30 and Under Events, BBQ Events, Beer Events, Behind The Scenes Tours, Breakfast/Brunches, Champagne Events, Cooking Classes, Eco Tours, Group Events, Kid-Friendly Events, Lighter Fare Events, Liquor/Sprits Pairings, Live Music, Lunches, Multi-Course Dinners, Oyster Events, Sweets/Desserts, Tapas Dinners and Crawls, Transportation-Included Events, Wine Dinners and Wine Tastings. On any one of the four days there are 10–20 events going on. Taste of the Beach is put on by the Outer Banks Restaurant Association (OBRA), which is a nonprofit group of restaurants/owners, as well as people or businesses that serve the restaurant industry. The association’s mission is to focus on promoting the (formerly) best-kept secret about The Outer Banks and all of its exciting dining options.

Photo by Neil GT Photography

With almost 70 events going on over the course of four days, it is virtually impossible to attend everything. So the key is to map out your plan of attack in advance, buy your tickets, then work your plan. When you visit the event website, you can search by Event Days, Event Venues or Event Locations (towns). You can also search by Event Categories to see what kinds of events spark your interest. Check out the website to view events and purchase tickets. Every event is priced and ticketed separately so you can design your own experience within your particular tastes and budget.

According to Webster, the Festival Cornerstone Events are some of the more popular and have continued to grow in size over the years. In addition to the NC Chefs Dinner, those events include Friday’s Outer Banks BBQ & Wing Showdown sponsored by Joe Lamb, Jr. Associates and the Outer Banks Visitors Bureau; the Annual OBX Chowder Cookoff 2017 on Saturday; and The 2017 Sysco Grand Tasting & Bartenders Bubbly Bash on Sunday. All three of those events boast 500-plus attendees each.

Photo by Libby March Photography

“If you can get here on Thursday and take in as many events as you can over the four-day weekend, it’s a ton of fun,” she says. “We have a lot of groups that do that. We’ve got one group of ladies that have been coming down since we went to the four-day format nine years ago. It’s a group of mothers, mothers-in-law, daughters and daughters-in law who rent a house and do a girls’ weekend. And they’ll do three or four events per day together. It’s amazing.”

Some events begin to sell out as early as January, but most will have available tickets for purchase through March. The best plan is to look and book early for the biggest selection. For latecomers, be sure to check out the At-The-Door event category to see which events you can purchase in the final hours. Most events will cut off ticket sales 24–48 hours in advance and will not have availability at the door, so it’s important to plan ahead. Whatever events you choose, you are sure to have a fantastic weekend enjoying the OBX Taste of the Beach motto—Food Drink Fun! Enjoy!

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