RED BANK: CUISINE & KEYTAR AT COUNT BASIE

A scene from last year’s first Appetite Festival — a three-day culinary and epicurean arts festival — returns to the Count Basie Theater in August.  (Photo by Peter Lindner. Click to enlarge)

By JIM WILLIS

The first weekend of August, Red Bank’s Count Basie Theater will become a veritable paradise for eaters and drinkers when the Appeitte Festival returns for a second year.

morsels medium

Basie marketing director Jon Vena tells PieHole the the multiday food festival is “a celebration and recognition of what makes our area’s culinary energy thrive.”

PieHole knows that August weekends are some of the most valuable real estate on our summer calendar. With that in mind, tickets for the event are now on sale so we can lock in plans well ahead of time.

This year’s event, with its food tastings, wine and beer pairings and cooking demonstrations, will take place over a weekend as opposed to last year’s four-day event that spanned several weekdays. The festival combines eating and drinking at the theater (and its outdoor patio space) with entertainment events in the evening on the theater’s stage. Vena says this year will be more condensed and focused with the daytime events ($10 gets you in the door) pairing more closely with the headliners who will take the stage in the evening ($29-$165 for theater tickets).

On Friday night, chef, writer, teacher and eater of just about anything, Andrew Zimmern kicks off the event.

The theme for Saturday will be “wine and dine,” with the diaphanous Giada De Laurentiis, host of Food Network’s ‘Giada at Home’ taking the stage Saturday evening to talk Italian cooking.

“Saturday will be more of wine atmosphere, with tasting and pairings and epicurean demonstrations focusing more on the finer end of food,” says Vena.

Sunday will be a celebration of the area’s beers, with barbecue demos and tastings focusing “a more rocking time that focusses on the fun end of culinary pursuits,” according to Vena.

The event wraps up Sunday evening with Rock and Blues Fest Tour with the Edgar Winter Band (think keytar and Frankenstein), Vanilla Fudge and a few other bands who seemingly pair well with beer and barbecue.

Throughout the event, there will also be an Appetite Marketplace. “We’re curating the market to be an all-inclusive area of everything about the joy of food. Instead of charging vendors to be part of the marketplace, we’re bringing vendors in as our guests if they’ll donate 20 percent of their proceeds to the JBJ Soul Kitchen,” says Vena.

Vena says there also will be food trucks parked along Monmouth Street near the theater that will be opened to the general public throughout the event.

Tickets for headline performances by Zimmern, De Laurentiis and the Blues & Brews’ evening concert are now available at countbasietheatre.org, phone charge at732-842-9000 and the Count Basie Theatre box office.