basie appetite 2013 16Scenes from the 2013 inaugural ‘Appetite’ event, which returns to the patio and stage of the Basie this weekend. (Photos by Peter Lindner. Click to enlarge)

basie appetite 2013 10Its famous stage has hosted everything from Hollywood royalty and hall of fame rockers to high school revues — but Red Bank’s Count Basie Theatre seems to have hit upon a fresh recipe for success, with the new breed of live shows built around celebrity chefs.

Such culinary cable stars as Bobby Flay, Ina Garten, Robert Irvine and “Cake Boss” Buddy Valastro have done boffo box office at the Basie. And with the arrival of this weekend’s ‘Appetite: A Gastronomic Experience,’ casual fans and full-fledged foodies can feast on a two-night/two-day excursion that’s highlighted by two superstars of the video-victuals circuit.

A four-course affair running from Friday night through Sunday afternoon, the second annual edition of Appetite also features tie-ins to the good works of some popular hometown favorites.

GiadaZimmernCelebrity chefs Giada De Laurentiis and Andrew Zimmern take their culinary skills to the stage of the Count Basie as part of the Theatre’s weekend-long ‘Appetite’ celebration of all things foodie.

It’s a sumptuous smorgasbord that’s keynoted Friday with a live-on-stage appearance by the restaurant world’s answer to Ripley’s Believe It or Not: TV star, author and chef Andrew Zimmern. The affable and intrepid host of Travel Channel’s Bizarre Foods series will be serving up a gourmet cooking demo, taking questions — and spinning tales of the strangest things he’s ever put in his mouth — during a presentation that begins at 8 pm.

From regular-joe Zimmern and his mind-boggling munchies, the ambience gets glamorous on Saturday, as the Basie welcomes Giada De Laurentiis to the boards. The Emmy-winning Food Network host/ best-selling cookbook author (and granddaughter of legendary movie producer Dino De Laurentiis) will be making mealtime magic live on stage, participating in a Q&A with the audience, and offering a meet-and-greet option to top-tier ticketholders.

There’s lots more for the sampling, and at popular prices, as Appetite continues with two big daytime events on August 2 and 3.

Saturday afternoon brings a daylong schedule of Wine and Dine events that runs between noon and 5 pm — and features an Italian Wine Tasting session hosted by Red Bank’s very own culinary TV sensation: Vic Rallo of the PBS series Eat! Drink! Italy!. Also on the menu are wine pairing seminars, gourmet entree and dessert demos, cocktail seminars, and a Food Truck Row and Marketplace of artisanal grocers, gourmet shops and vendors from all over New Jersey.

From Wine and Dine, the mood turns to Blues and Brews on Sunday — with all-American tastings that include a “Four Corners” pairing of craft beers and artisanal cheeses; Beer-and-Charcuterie demos, and, as Basie operations veep Izzy Sackowitz tells it, “my personal favorite: the return of our make-your-own Bloody Mary bar.” Butcher Stew Goldstein, whose Monmouth Meats shop is just across the street from the theater, will offer a demo on preparing a pork loin Marco roast. And a rising star with a local luster — Brookdale Community College grad chef Laercio M. Chamon Jr. will be on hand with his Rollin’ Bistro BBQ demos and instructional presentations.

A $10 ticket gets customers into the Saturday or Sunday aternoon events —  and 20 percent of proceeds will be donated to the nearby JBJ Soul Kitchen and its ongoing mission of feeding people healthy, well-balanced meals in a welcoming environment, all without prices on the menu.

As announced by the Basie a couple of weeks back, the closing-night Blues Concert originally scheduled for August 3 has been cancelled, due to the sudden passing of headlining blues-rock legend Johnny Winter. Contact the Basie box office for details on refunds, and a special offer of complimentary admission to afternoon events, available to Sunday concert ticketholders.

Tickets for Friday’s 8 pm appearance of Andrew Zimmern ($29 – $99) can be reserved right here. Tickets to Saturday’s Wine and Dine events ($10) are available here. Take it here for tickets to the 7 pm appearance of Giada di Laurentiis ($39 – $89, with a $165 meet and greet VIP option), and here for tickets for Sunday’s Blues and Brews afternoon events. A detailed menu of activities and offerings at the Count Basie’s Appetite weekend — as well as a concurrent Appetite festival going on in North Bethesda, Maryland — can be viewed right here.