The Fuse Bistro will have three dishes at the Food & Wine Festival in September. This dish they will have at the festival is their zippy wings and next to
The Fuse Bistro will have three dishes at the Food & Wine Festival in September. This dish they will have at the festival is their zippy wings and next to them is a Cabernet Sauvignon. ( SUN PHOTOS BY JOHN LOVE)

LOWELL -- The Lowell Food & Wine Festival is coming back to the Mill City for the second time and, hopefully, will be twice as big.

Tobi Marx, founder of the nonprofit organization Made in Lowell that runs the festival, is hoping for about 3,000 attendees, almost twice as many as last year. More than 25 eateries as well as various wineries and breweries, all from the Merrimack Valley, will take part in the four-day festival.

For Bishop's Legacy Restaurant on Merrimack Street, the event allows the restaurant to let thousands of people know exactly what they do by serving Eastern Mediterranean food. Bishop's was opened in March and is one of the youngest venues at the event.

From left, front row, Spinners Canaligator, Gabby Davis, Made in Lowell production assistant, Elaine Melanson of Element Care, Deb Belanger, executive
From left, front row, Spinners Canaligator, Gabby Davis, Made in Lowell production assistant, Elaine Melanson of Element Care, Deb Belanger, executive director of Greater Merrimack Valley Convention and Visitors Bureau, Tobi Marx, CEO/Made in Lowell, Santiago Rodriguez, volunteer/Made in Lowell, Chuck Saba, owner of Bishop's Legacy Restaurant, and Sam Antonaccio of Spiceventure International Food Truck. Back row, Joelle Geisler, event manager at UTEC, City Councilor Corey Belanger, Madison Reslow, intern with Made in Lowell, Zoe Hornsby, part of the planning team for the festival, Henri Marchand, special events coordinator for Lowell, Mike McGovern, assistant city manager, Thomas Bell, owner of the Food Train food truck and John Leahy, city councilor.

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Chuck Saba, owner of Bishop's, said he originally wanted to be part of a festival in the city when he attended other festivals Lowell has put on, calling them "absolutely incredible."

"Any type of community event that is going to feature and show off Lowell is something that I want to be a part of," Saba said. "It's a way of bringing us to the forefront of Lowell."

Henry Marchand, special events coordinator for the city, has been working with Marx to coordinate permits, police and safety procedures for the six Lowell venues where the festival will take place.

"He (Marx) finds these little, out-of-the-way places that are not often used for events like this," Marchand said.


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Chelmsford’s 110 Grill’s sous chef Mark Chum shows off pan-seared salmon, marinated chilled angel hair pasta, tossed with julienne carrots,
Chelmsford's 110 Grill's sous chef Mark Chum shows off pan-seared salmon, marinated chilled angel hair pasta, tossed with julienne carrots, cucumber, red peppers and sesame seeds, finished with a light sesame ginger dressing and sriracha aioli.

One such place is the United Teen Equality Center in Lowell. While many may not imagine UTEC as a place for food, the UTEC Café will host two festival events there, including the opening wine dinner.

"It's a different way to bring people into UTEC who might not have otherwise known us," said Joelle Geisler, events manager for UTEC.

The Café employs local youth and its food will be available at the festival.

Marx hopes that the festival will change people's preconceptions about Lowell and bring visitors from across the Merrimack Valley back to the Mill City not just next year for the festival, but next week for food from places like the UTEC Café and Bishop's Legacy Restaurant.

Made in Lowell, as an organization, is hoping events like this will continue to change and improve Lowell, particularly for small businesses, said Marx.

"What frustrates me is people just don't know Lowell," Marx said. "They don't know how great Lowell is and can be."

The Lowell Food & Wine Festival will take place Sept. 11-13 in places throughout Lowell. Tickets and more information about each event are available at tlfwf.org.

Festival events

Sous Chef Christian Camarena of Fuse Bistro holds, on the left, the Green Pizza and, at right, the Fried Haddock taco’s with Nectarine salsa.
Sous Chef Christian Camarena of Fuse Bistro holds, on the left, the Green Pizza and, at right, the Fried Haddock taco's with Nectarine salsa.
  • Opening Reception -- Thursday, Sept. 10, 7-10 p.m., Victorian lounge at Mill No. 5, 250 Jackson St., 4th floor
  • Wine dinner series -- Choose from the opening wine dinner at UTEC on Thursday, Sept. 10, or a farm-to-table dinner at Mill City Grow's Urban Farm or a cool beer dinner featuring Navigation Brewing Company at Dudley's Restaurant, both on Saturday, Sept. 12. Each event in the series starts at 6:30 p.m.
  • Food Truck Madness -- Friday, Sept. 11, 6-9 p.m., Kerouac Park, Bridge Street
  • The Grand Tasting -- Over 50 vendors of fine foods, culinary treasures, fine wines, craft beer and spirits will serve up samples from noon to 6 p.m.
    Cobblestones of Lowell Chef Tiffani Natinsky shows off Grilled Watermelon Salad Baby greens, feta cheese with lemon-honey vinaigrette. The wine held by Bar
    Cobblestones of Lowell Chef Tiffani Natinsky shows off Grilled Watermelon Salad Baby greens, feta cheese with lemon-honey vinaigrette. The wine held by Bar manager Jimmy Lee is a chardonnay by Hayes Ranch out of California
     on Middle and Palmer streets in downtown Lowell on Saturday, Sept. 12.
  • Popup Taco & Tequila -- Friday, Sept. 11, 9.30-11 p.m., UMass Inn & Conference Center, 50 Warren St. Watch amazing chefs go head to head, adding their own take on anything south of the border. Sample each creation from the contenders and wash them all down with the perfect tequila pairing.
  • Sips & Sweets -- Saturday, Sept. 12, 9:30-11 p.m., UTEC-Cafe, 41 Warren St. Sample the most creative pastries and desserts made by some of the Merrimack Valley's most talented pastry chefs and artisans. Grab a cocktail or glass of champagne and keep the party going with a set by our resident DJ.

All-access passes are also available.

The Participants...

  • Restaurants: 110 Grill, Fuse Bistro, Glenview Pub, Serengeti Catering, Kale Yeah Catering, Frost This Cake, 1981, Bishops, Aramark University Dining, 50 Warren, Corn & Co, Coffee & Cotton, Cobblestones/Moonstones, Thirsty First, Margarita's, Purple Carrot, Wicked Irish Pub
  • Food Trucks: Off The Hook, Hawaiian Shaved Ice, The Food Train, Spice Venture, Mess Haul, Pipe Cup Cakes, WOWBBQ, CocoRays, Mediterranean Home Cooking, Meani Panini, Gogi On The Block, Chowder Heads, Slide By Food Truck, The Roving Lunchbox
  • Breweries: Sierra Nevada, Yuengling, Six Point, Downeast Cider, Radeberger, Schoffenhoffer, Riverwalk, Cape Ann, Guinness, Smutty Nose, Magic Hat, Duvel/Ommegang
  • Wineries: Art Bev Coop, La Belle Winery, 90+ Wine Cellars, SIMI, Clos Du Bois, Blufeld, Estancia, Dreaming Tree, Orsini Imports
  • Distillers: Prairie Organics, Kindred Spirits, Hammer & Sickle, Bully Boy