What a fun, delicious, action-packed blur! It wasn’t easy, but we’ve selected 9 highlights from the 9th annual BB&T Charleston Wine + Food Festival to share with you – enjoy!
The originality and creativity of Chef Nico Romo’s Charcuterie Pyramid at the BB&T Sponsor Recognition Party.
Fish Chef Nico Romo provided hors d’ouvres at this reception honoring the Festival’s top influencers in a very nontraditional format. Taking up almost an entire room of the historical William Aiken House on King Street, Romo’s pyramid featured cured meats, cheeses, pâtés and other snacks attached with miniature clothespins and handmade paper cups. Guests enjoyed conversing about the centerpiece as much as they enjoyed eating it. In addition, the party featured an ice sculpture reminiscent of the 2014 Festival poster by artist Lisa Shimko, and music by the Charleston Symphony Orchestra. Needless to say, this exclusive event set the tone for the rest of the weekend.
The Thrilling Experience (and value!) brought by Charleston’s most talented at Salute to Charleston Chefs: Opening Night Party presented by the Art Institute of Charleston.
Despite the bleak weather outside, guests were quickly transported into a warm lounge atmosphere in the Art Institute of Charleston’s Main Event Tent, where Charleston’s finest served up samples of cuisine, savory and sweet. With one trip around the tent, guests were able to intimately interact with the who’s who of Charleston chefs, from Mike Lata to Sean Brock, Kevin Johnson to Jeremiah Bacon; this event was a rare opportunity to see Chefs from all of Charleston’s hottest restaurants in one place. Dishes did not disappoint, from Chef Kevin Johnson’s Fish Crudo taco to Chef Jason Rheinewald’s Braised Oxtail. Overall, the evening was a memorable spotlight of Charleston cuisine, the true inspiration of the Charleston Wine + Food Festival.
The Gorgeous (and Green!) Dinnerware
Our new sponsor, VerTerra, is literally dinnerware from fall leaves – palm leaves, that is. These stylish, sustainable single-use plates, bowls and cutlery were at almost every event at the Festival, and they got generated a lot of attention. No trees are ever harvested or cut down. No chemicals, waxes, dyes or additives are applied. No harmful toxins. All VerTerra products are BPI-certified compostable and naturally biodegrade within two months after use. And did we mention how stylish these dishes are? Made from just palm leaves and water, we are delighted with their beauty, their size, and their friendly team. They were a big talking point at the Festival and we had to give them a shout out.
A full day of exciting opportunities in the 2014 Culinary Village.
This year’s Culinary Village was a spectacular footprint of indoor and outdoor culinary opportunities. A ticket to the Village offered entry into the Baker Motor Company’s Grand Tasting Tent, filled with dozens of tasting opportunities from local and nationwide vendors. The airy and inviting Southern Season Open Air Artisan Market featured the latest products and retail. The Southern Foodways Alliance educated guests on such topics as oyster shucking and cured meats. The Chateau D’Esclans Rose Garden + Grilling Area chefs interacted and demoed culinary skills with guests in an intimate sunny setting. The Whole Foods Wine Shop brought Whole Food’s extensive wine retail (and growlers!) to Marion Square. And the new Bay Street Biergarten was popping with brews, nibbles, corn hole and pop-up tables for visiting. The bottom line: this year, the Culinary Village alone provided a full day of eating and drinking for one cost – all-inclusive, educational and delicious.
Roger Gelis (Proof), Dale DeGroff (King Cocktail), Julian Van Winkle, Craig Nelson (Proof), and Mike Morris (Proof)
The rapt audiences at our Beverage Seminars, like the Culinary Institute of Charleston’s Bourbon Born seminar at Proof (above).
The Festival offers an incredible range of beverage seminars featuring a broad spectrum of wine varietals. This year, we added a Southern spirit. No doubt, bourbon is a beloved brown spirit, and on a chilly wet Thursday, Proof hosted a beverage seminar that highlighted the philosophy and production styles of bourbon hosted by none other than Julian Van Winkle himself. Each audience member thrilled with the insight of this bourbon diety’s wisdom, proof of how much our guests appreciate both educational and delicious events.
Kevin Gillespie (Gun Show) and Chris Shepherd (Underbelly) compete against Waffle House Master Blaster Jeff in the final round of the Waffle House Smackdown.
From Left: Michael Hudman (Andrew Michael Italian Kitchen), Kevin Gillespie (Gun Show), Mike Lata (FIG), Chris Shepherd (Underbelly), and Master Blaster Chef (Waffle House)
The serious (and seriously funny) competition at the Waffle House Smackdown presented by Charleston City Paper.
Take four of the nation’s most acclaimed chefs and put them in a Waffle House kitchen. This may seem like an unlikely combination, but this juxtaposition drew a packed house in the SCE&G Celebrity Kitchen in the Culinary Village. This year, the participants, who included Chef Mike Lata of FIG (last year’s winner), Chef Kevin Gillespie of Gunshow, Chef Chris Shepherd of Underbelly, and Chef Michael Hudman of Andrew Micheal Italian Kitchen, took the competition very seriously. Ultimately, Chef Chris Shepherd came out on top, but soon after, a twist in the competition revealed that he would have to defeat an actual Waffle House Master Blaster to truly win the title. Despite enlisting the help of runner-up Kevin Gillespie, the Waffle House Master Blaster Jeff, received a perfect score, blowing the two chefs out of the water. What did we learn? After another successful Waffle House Smackdown, people really love a little competition, humor, and the Waffle House.
Chef Edward Lee during his cooking demonstration.
Cookbook pages come to life in Small Batch Bourbons + Hog Heaven Cooking Demonstration + Tasting with Chef Edward Lee presented by SCE&G.
A new ticket this year, the cooking demonstrations in the SCE&G Celebrity kitchen provided guests with intimate education and interaction with some of the culinary industries most acclaimed personalities. Known for his sense of humor and vast experience, Chef Edward Lee tought guests all there was to know about cooking with bourbon. While everyone else in the world can purchase Chef Lee’s cookbook Smoke and Pickles: Recipes and Stories from a New Southern Kitchen to get the insights of his Southern style, guests at his demo were able to interact with him one on one, bringing the book pages to life, and delighting guests with education served up alongside great food, causing his demo, and many of the others that took place throughout the weekend, to stand out as a valuable moment.
Chefs Brett Cooper (Outerlands), Justin Burdett (Ruka’s Table), Jenna Hodges (Colt & Gray), Michael Toscano (Perla) at the New + Notables Dinner.
The delicious talent at the New + Notables Dinner presented by SieMatic.
Charleston is a city based in tradition, but constantly recognizing what’s new. This practice was also put into place at the 2014 Festival. This year’s New + Notables dinner recognized some of the country’s top up-and-coming chefs. Nominated by the first participants of the 2013 New + Notables dinner, this elite group included three national chefs, one Charleston chef, a pastry chef and winemaker. As expected, the result was a spectacular dinner with picture-worthy dishes that gave guests a take of what is to come in the Culinary world.
Pitmaster Rodney Scott serving guests at Rigs, Pigs, + Swigs.
The quintessentially Southern, laid-back atmosphere of Rigs, Pigs, + Swigs presented by the Charleston Harbor Resort.
Imagine 24-hour-cooked barbecue, beverages, and good music all against the backdrop of a picturesque views of the Charleston skyline. Sounds great, doesn’t it? That’s why Rigs, Pigs + Swigs stands out as the finale to remember. At the Festival, we’re all about reflecting Charleston’s friendly and hospitable culture, and what better way to bid farewell to guests than with a barbecue complete with some of the South’s finest pitmasters including Rodney Scott and Fox Bros. Barbecue. Country singer Mark Cooke performed original songs in addition to classic covers, serving as the soundtrack to the sunset of the 2014 Festival – we think the best one yet!
We hope you enjoyed our 9th Festival as much as we did! We’re already hard at work to create an amazing celebration – our 10th anniversary! — next year.
Save the Date: March 5-8th, 2015