Hands of the Festival
From the hands that prepare unique dishes during signature dinners to the hands that set up the tents in the Culinary Village, these #HandsoftheFestival come together year after year to make Charleston Wine + Food possible. Over twelve delicious years of Charleston Wine + Food we have had thousands of volunteers + attendees, and last year the festival created an economic impact of $9.1 million. So we would like to take a moment to give a hand to these hands that helped us #PourIntoCharleston during the 2017 season.
Susan and Melody, longtime friends from North Carolina, have the same loyal hands that many of our guests have. Over the past six years, these ladies have made Charleston Wine + Food a friendly adventure while exploring the food, drinks and fun that the Culinary Village has to offer… Pictured here with some newcomers sharing food and laughs.
Q: What brings you back to the festival year after year?
It’s more than just wine, it’s an annual event. We try not to miss it. There’s a group of 30 people here from Fayetteville, and we grow it every year. It’s not to miss. We love wine and we love to eat.
Q: What’s your drink of choice?
Melody: Chardonnay or a cabernet.
Susan: This is why we love this festival so much because they have both!
Cappie Peete, a level 4 sommelier in the Charleston area, began as a server’s assistant at Charleston-favorite McCrady’s and is longtime supporter of the festival. Cappie is one of the three sommeliers involved in the event Sumo Sommelier. Talk about some important hands…the hands that pour the wine!
Q: Why did you decide to support the festival as a sommelier?
Cappie: It’s something that kind of happened naturally just being involved in the restaurants in town, and working with a restaurant group – like McCrady’s – which specifically was so involved in the festival itself. McCrady’s is known as one of the wine-centric restaurants in Charleston. I began doing seminars for the festival and luckily got selected to do Sumo Sommelier for the last couple of years. And because it’s fun too!
Q: What is your favorite part of being involved in the festival?
Cappie: People. Getting to hang out with people from all over the place. The festival does such a good job of inviting a really amazing group of people. It’s great to rub shoulders with people who are as invested in the industry as you are.
Venton Sutton, better known as V.C., was stationed in the volunteer tent, coordinating schedules and greeting other volunteers with a quick joke or a clever antidote. V.C. and his wife have been dedicated supporters of the arts their entire lives. When the Charleston Wine + Food festival came to life in 2008, they were thrilled to be among the first volunteers to pioneer the exciting first year. Now 12 years later, V.C. is a loyal set of hands the festival has come to depends on.
Q: What made you decide to get involved with CHSWFF?
V.C.: It was just something we wanted to cater to. We liked it, they liked us. We applied for a second year and they accepted us.
Q: What’s your favorite part of volunteering for the festival?
V.C.: Just meeting the people, seeing the smiles, and seeing the people come. And making sure that their experience is what we want them to have.
After 40 plus years with Mayor Riley Jr., Charleston residents elected Mayor John Tecklenburg in 2016. Mayor Tecklenburg kicked off the twelfth annual Charleston Wine + Food Festival’s opening ceremonies by speaking to the guests about his love of Charleston and his love for wine + food.
Q:How you feel the festival gives back to the community?
Mayor: The festival helps create careers in the culinary arts. The most important thing is that it is fun! And it’s fun, not just for people that visit, but it’s fun for people that live here. And that’s why I like it the most. If you think about it, this gives residents an opportunity to participate in an event that otherwise they might not be able to if it were not for the fact that we have a strong tourism base. It feeds together both economic impact and fun.
Q: What’s your favorite food?
Mayor: When I was growing up I would always tell my mother after dinner that it was the best meal I ever had. So if that tells you anything it tells you how much I like food. I love food. But since my friends from France are here the food that crossed my mind is bouillabaisse.
Under a red and white striped tent, Chef Brannon Florie cultivated some of the festival’s most unique dishes at the carnival-themed, Nassau Street Sideshow. Among fire dancers, acrobats, and a live rock band, Brannon still had lines of hungry guests eager to get their hands on his savory dish. The father of two has dedicated his hands to the lowcountry culinary community for years as a chef, restaurant owner, and volunteer.
Q: What is your favorite part of working with CHSWFF?
Brannon: Sunday. The finale – Toasted. It’s tough because we’re busy all week. Sunday is the end and the event is fun.
Q: How did you get started working with CHSWFF?
Brannon: I’ve been here from the beginning. I’m local. I’m all about supporting local causes and people. It’s just something that every year it is not a question in my mind.
Q: What’s your favorite food?
Brannon: Well, I have kids so I’d have to say spaghetti and meatballs. I just put it on the menu at my new restaurant.
*This blog post was written by our 2016-2017 Charleston Wine + Food CofC Fellows. Charleston Wine + Food has partnered with the College of Charleston to offer a communications senior capstone class the opportunity to work with the festival.