More than 700 wine and food lovers gathered for an exquisite meal concocted by all-star chefs at the sixth annual Carnivale du Vin Gala & Wine Auction on November 13. Chef Emeril Lagasse hosted the event at the Hilton New Orleans Riverside – its first year back post-Hurricane Katrina – and proceeds went toward his foundation and toward children of fishing families in South Louisiana.

The Emeril Lagasse Foundation supports culinary educational programs that inspire young students by teaching culinary arts, nutrition and healthy eating. Projects funded by the foundation include outdoor classrooms, gardens and a teaching kitchen for Edible Schoolyard New Orleans; hospitality training for at-risk youth at Café Reconcile; and, most recently, a culinary arts curriculum for high school students at the New Orleans Center for Creative Arts.

The event opened with a tasting of the 2010 Carnivale du Vin “Bacchus” special bottled Pinot Noir, uncorked by Bob and Heather Cabral of Williams Selyem Winery. Following the wine tasting, chefs Emeril Lagasse, Mario Batali, Gale Gand and Norman Van Aken cooked up the “Krewe du Vin” cuisine, which NOCCA culinary students helped to prepare and serve to the patrons. World-renowned vintners filled glasses with different wines to complement each meal. Guests enjoyed live performances by the Mardi Gras Indians, Kermit Ruffins, Jeremy Davenport, the Hornets drum line and the McDonough #35 gospel choir. After the dinner, the live auction featured rare wines and travel experiences. Kool and the Gang closed the event with a bang.

People dining for a cause have helped the Carnivale du Vin to be ranked third on Wine Spectator’s list of “Top Ten U.S. Charity Wine Auctions.” The event raised $1.9 million, which will serve to educate youth in the culinary arts.