When you take a look at the menu options, wine choices and spirit offerings for the events featured at this year's Savannah Gourmet Seafood & Spirits Festival, you may find your mouth watering before you get half-way through the list.

And while we know the Westin Savannah Harbor Golf Resort & Spa can throw a spectacular party, David Moses, director of public relations and communications for Westin Resorts, is quick to note the overall mission of this signature event is to find a unique way to raise funds for the Savannah Harbor Foundation.

The foundation is known for helping children's charities in our area and is dedicated to the "betterment of family life throughout Savannah and the neighboring region." Moses explains the Westin's passion for fundraising is simply, because "we want Savannah to be the best community it can be."

The fourth annual Gourmet Seafood & Spirits Festival - billed as a resort takeover - will be Aug. 17 to 20 at The Westin Savannah Harbor Golf Resort & Spa. The event also offers room specials so you can stay on site and enjoy every minute of the festival. Guests not staying the night are also encouraged to take advantage of specials with Uber if they plan to take advantage of the wine and spirit offerings.

According to Moses, the weekend kicks off Aug. 17 with the Coastal Chefs Table dinner from 6:30 to 10 p.m. Tickets are $125 and include a five-course "culinary journey" paired with hand-selected wines, cocktails and spirits, and finished with a dessert round.

"We have some amazing chefs that will join our Westin chefs," Moses explains. "Brian Cripps, the new chef at Pacci, will do some amazing apps ⦠and we'll have our own Eric Cousin make our first course."

This year's theme is the "Southern Coast" and Moses says the event will feature surf and turf with some surprises, too.

The Costal Chef's Table celebrity chefs include Keith Rhodes, executive chef at Catch in Wilmington, N.C.; Tony Biggs, corporate executive chef of Certified Angus Beef; Carl Ruiz, executive chef of Marie's Italian Specialties and Seafood (you've probably seen him on the hit show "Diner's, Drive-Ins and Dives"); Jonathan Moore, executive chef at Sea Level in Charlotte, N.C.; and Rusty Bowers, craft butcher at Pine Street Market in Atlanta.

"Chef Jean Venderville of Savannah Technical College will create the dessert," Moses says. "It's going to be phenomenal, of course."

And if you're ready to unwind and enjoy an evening by the riverfront, you'll want to get tickets for the Last Blast of Summer Lowcountry Picnic from 6:30 to 9 p.m. Aug. 18. Tickets are $40 and include all you can oysters and delicious side dishes. A host of craft beers and signature cocktails will be available for purchase.

"We will also have craft butcher Rusty Bowers back for that, too," Moses says. "And we'll have a Big Green Egg demo every half hour with some amazing barbecue options."

Moses says the Big Green Egg demonstrations will include demos by Plantation Lumber, BBQ from Blowin' Smoke, and Chef Bowers.

As if Lowcountry boil, oysters, barbecue and craft beer aren't enough, Moses says there will be live entertainment by one of the area's best Jimmy Buffet cover bands, Sons of Sailors.

Saturday is the main event with the Aquacurean Challenge & Coastal Pop-Up from 2 to 5 p.m. Aug. 19. Tickets are $65. Limited VIP tickets and ticket packages are also available. This is the annual showcase of local restaurants and mixologists who will not only be serving up their best seafood recipes and cocktails, but will be competing for your vote.

"We plan to have about 40 different stations this year," Moses says. "There will be more going on outside this year than we had in past years, but there will be plenty of ways to stay cool. It's a great chance to just wander around our beautiful waterfront area and enjoy some amazing food and drinks."

Local restaurants competing for the seafood challenge include A.Lure, CO, Edgar's Proof & Provisions, 17hundred90, Aqua Star, Certified Angus Beef, Ordinary Pub, Savannah Riverboat Cruises, Pacci Italian Kitchen & Bar, B. Matthews, US Foods, Pirates House, Cha Bella and Savannah Technical College. Moses notes more restaurants may decide to join the competition.

As for the cocktail challenge, guests will have the chance to sample drinks made by bartenders from Artillery, Pacci Italian Kitchen, The Original, Edgars Proofs and Provisions, The Wormhole, B. Matthews, The Prohibition Museum, Midnight Sun Lounge, Aqua Fuego, Treylor Park, Hitch, Moss + Oak and Top Deck.

Moses also says the cocktail challenge will have an added twist this year.

"We'll take the winner of the popular vote and the winner of the judged competition and have them go head-to-head around 4 p.m." He says the final competition will feature something similar to a "Chopped" basket of mystery items that the bartenders will have to use to create the winning drink.

Guests who plan to imbibe will have a chance to sample from Old Forester Bourbon, Cask & Crew Whiskey, Absolut Vodka, Plymouth Gin, Herradura Tequila, Blue Point Brewing and Sea Glass Wines.

Moses adds that VIP ticket holders can arrive early and will receive some extra goodies, as well. All guests will have the opportunity to mingle with the visiting celebrity chefs from the Coastal Chef's Table dinner.

The weekend will wrap up with Fresh Catch & Cocktails Jazz Brunch at the Westin's Aqua Star restaurant overlooking the Savannah River. Moses adds, "it's the best view of the city." The event is from 12:30 to 3:30 p.m. Sunday. Tickets are $65

The brunch features some of the best dishes from Aqua Star's seafood kitchen and guests can enjoy champagne, a Bloody Mary bar, seafood and a breakfast buffet.

Savannah favorites Jeremy Davis Equinox Trio will provide live entertainment.


What: Gourmet Seafood & Spirits Festival

When: Aug. 17-20

Where: The Westin Savannah Harbor Golf Resort & Spa

Cost: Varies

Info: gourmetseafoodandspiritsfestival.com