The American Institute of Wine and Food (AIWF) is an organization with chapters in 32 cities. It was founded 20 years ago to promote the understanding and appreciation of food and wine. AIWF is unique because membership includes both food professionals and interested consumers. The AIWF is dedicated to understanding and celebrating the pleasures, benefits and traditions of table. About 400 food and wine programs are held annually by chapters as well as everything from black tie and gala dinners to cowboy boots and ribs - AIWF has something for everyone.
AIWF is a diverse group of individuals from every region, every walk of life, and every ethnic background. They are professionals in the culinary industry and enthusiasts who are passionate about food and wine. Having a strong core of values and offering innovative programs, member benefits, and unique local events, AIWF celebrates the community of the table and gather together to educate others, including children, around the nation. AIWF chapters are the heart and soul of the AIWF.
Thought-provoking seminars, unique educational opportunities and festive social gatherings at the local level inspire a lively and comprehensive exchange of information and ideas. Each chapter creates their own unique program for events year round. Many include winemaker dinners, exclusive wine tasting opportunities, gala auctions, cookbook signings, artisan food gatherings, picnics, garden tours, culinary cruises, golf tournaments, chocolate tasting opportunities, salmon fishing, and BBQs. The Chicago chapter is the largest chapter, currently with 530 members. The Chicago chapter provides three events per month such as a Farm Table Dinner featuring local produce, a program the "American Cheese Revolution" that discussed crafting of unique American cheeses and showcasing cheese menu items from local chefs.
The most admirable part about AIWF is their Days of Taste program. Taken from a French program of the same name, Journee de Gout, Days of Taste offers a chance for inner-city fourth and fifth grade students to learn the process that takes food from a farm and turns it a meal in their homes. Over four days, the children are introduced to the culinary arts; they visit with a farmer and a restaurant, make a harvest salad, and learn the basics of fresh food and nutrition.
The Days of Taste program creates a recipe for success by bringing the ingredients from local farms and chefs to classrooms across America. The focus and main objectives are to build a food and nutrition vocabulary, understand that locally grown ingredients are the freshest, and gain the experience to contrast flavors and develop taste memories. AIWF also awards about $40,000 of scholarships annually.
The scholarships are awarded by chapters and some are matched by a grant from the Chalone Wine Foundation. Some scholarships are for students pursuing culinary and viniculture careers, while others are scholarships for chefs to take continuing education courses.
Membership is open to all, as AIWF offers something for everyone.