The ideal time to find your new favorite chef or restaurant is quickly approaching.
The Fort Worth Food & Wine Festival returns March 30 through April 2 and has quite the lineup. Now in its ninth year, the celebration has become increasingly popular. Some events are sold out, but the tickets that do remain can be purchased at the festival’s website.
The festival features a variety of events: Noche Del Sol, Tacos + Tequila, Night Market, The Main Event, Rise + Dine, Burgers, Brews + Blues, Ring of Fire and Hunt & Gather. They are spread out over the run of the festival.
Among the newcomers this year is Nikita Seal of ZZ’s Ice Cream Puffs.
She’s been featured in numerous interviews across North Texas to discuss her thriving career as an entrepreneur. In addition to operating a food truck, Seal also co-hosts a podcast, “Anxiety is a Mutha,” in addition to several other successful ventures. The Air Force veteran has lived in Iraq and Korea and started ZZ’s Ice Cream Puffs after being laid off from her job.
Grub for a good cause
Proceeds from the festival go to the Fort Worth Food + Wine Foundation, a nonprofit organization that fundraises for local culinary scholarships and grant programs. To date, the Foundation has raised over $325,000 for grants and scholarships supporting worthy students in the culinary industry from Fort Worth.
“It was devastating. But one thing I learned in the Air Force was to never be afraid to try. ‘Do it scared.’ That’s been my motto since then.”
A mom of twins, Aziah and Zion, Seal has overcome numerous hardships in her life. She lost her mother as a youth in Arkansas, and later survived abusive environments and experienced homelessness for a time while attending Western Hills High School in the Las Vegas Trail neighborhood of west Fort Worth.
What is so unique about her product? Not just another ice cream sandwich, ZZ’s ice cream puffs are pillowy-soft golden-brown doughnuts (without the hole) and have been heat-sealed with your choice of multiple ice cream flavors and then topped with your choice of nostalgia-inducing cereals. Seal describes her delicious dessert treats as “unexpected” with perfectly balanced contrasts of hot and cold temperatures marrying sweet and subtle flavors with the ice creams, cereal and doughnuts.
Her life changed for the better after she graduated high school and joined the Air Force, she said. Working in the medical logistics field allowed Seal to travel the world and experience the full range of life prior to motherhood. After becoming pregnant with her twins she settled into parenthood and soon made her way back to Texas.
“I wasn’t born in Texas, but I always knew I’d end up here again. It always felt like home,” she said.
She moved back to DFW when her children were 2 and made plans to purchase her first home shortly after. In a twist of fate after being laid off, she began considering the possibility of entrepreneurship.
That’s when she and her cousin started their podcast. Anxiety is a Mutha is now well into its second season and discusses hard topics that involve depression and anxiety. Additionally, Seal and her children can also call themselves authors. They wrote a children’s book titled Help Mommy Find Her Superpowers, which, like the podcast, opens the conversation for parents to have with their kids about depression and mental health. “If you struggle with depression, the book can be used as a tool to not only speak to your children but open the door for healthy communication,” Seal said.
Seal will be serving ZZ’s Ice Cream Puffs at the festival’s Night Market at 8 p.m. on March 31, at Whiskey Ranch, 4250 Mitchell Blvd., Fort Worth. The festival’s website describes the event as a street market experience “beneath the wide open Texas sky and twinkling stars.”
Editor’s note: This story was updated on March 24 to clarify the status of Goldee’s barbecue in this year’s Fort Worth Food & Wine Festival. While the award-winning Goldee’s won’t be participating in this year’s festival, two of its women pitmasters, Cecilia Guerrero and Kimberly Ovalle, will be on hand as part of the “Babes of Cue” at Ring of Fire.