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This week: VegFest, Cupcake Challenge, The Pair: Wine and Chocolate 101, Books and Cooks for Winter Park Public Library, Del Frisco's and more

Saturday, Oct. 27, marks the return of Central Florida VegFest, one of the largest vegetarian festivals in the country. In addition to a host of food-prep demonstrations and education zones, more than 250 vendors will join guest speakers, artists and live musicians at the all-day event. Admission is free, and the festival runs from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., rain or shine. Visit cfvegfest.org for more info.

On the sweet front, 20 bakeries will compete in this year's Cupcake Challenge, benefiting Dress for Success of Greater Orlando. The event takes place noon-3 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 21, at Cuba Libre; tickets are $25. And on Thursday, Nov. 1, 20 lucky folks will take part in an evening wine-and-chocolate pairing class. Dubbed The Pair: Chocolate and Wine 101, the 90-minute, $40 affair at Peterbrooke Chocolatier will be taught by Peterbrooke's Kevin Wray and Lisa Wilk of Orlando Uncorked. To reserve a spot, call 407-644-3200.

The Lamson League of the Winter Park Public Library hosts Books and Cooks: An Evening Celebrating Homegrown Talent, at the Rachel D. Murrah Civic Center 6 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 25. It's a fundraiser with food trucks by the Food Truck Bazaar, cocktails and beer by Cask & Larder, and some notable guests: Novelist Bob Morris will moderate a "lively panel discussion" with renowned chef Norman Van Aken; the Ravenous Pig's James and Julie Petrakis; Field to Feast cookbook co-authors Pam Brandon, Katie Farmand and Sentinel food editor Heather McPherson; and journalist and Manhattan Diet author Eileen Daspin. Emily Ellyn, the bespectacled contestant from Season 8 of Food Network Star, provides the flair. The after-party takes place at the Ravenous Pig at 9 p.m. Go to wppl.org/lamsonleague to buy tickets.

Christner's Del Frisco's on Lee Road is introducing the first in a series of "Meat and Greet" interactive tasting dinners Nov. 2. For $110, 20 guests will have the opportunity to sample six different cuts of beef, family-style sides, a flight of red wines, dessert and coffee. For reservations, send an email to [email protected].

A trio of new openings to report:
Marlow's Tavern in Pointe Orlando; Pioneers Western Kitchen at 11845 E. Colonial Drive; and Raga Indian restaurant at 7559 W. Sand Lake Road. Look for a Harry Buffalo sports bar to replace Mojo Bar & Grill (now closed) on Church Street. Mayor Buddy Dyer will ring in Food Day at noon Wednesday, Oct. 24; go to foodday.org to find out more.

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