On Tuesday, December 4, Charleston took New York City by storm with the “Taste of the Lowcountry” dinner at City Grit in the Nolita neighborhood of Manhattan. Sarah Simmons, creator and resident chef of City Grit, is a native of Columbia, SC and longtime fan and supporter of Charleston. When she told the Festival team that no chefs from Charleston had ever cooked at City Grit (a kitchen and culinary salon that has hosted dinners with chefs including Jon Shook and Vinny Dotolo from LA’s Animal, John Besh, Daniel Humm of NYC’s Eleven Madison Park, and too many others to name), we knew that we had to fix that!

The “Taste of the Lowcountry” dinner served as a Festival preview for NYC dinner guests and included several chefs participating in the 2013 Festival. Sean Brock of Husk and McCrady’s (representing his Global Modern Cuisine Dinner), Chef de Cuisine Jeremiah Langhorne of McCrady’s (representing the New + Notables Dinner), April Bloomfield of NYC’s The John Dory Oyster Bar, The Spotted Pig and The Breslin (representing This Little Piggy: Pop-Up Market) and City Grit’s own Simmons (who will also be participating in the New + Notables dinner) joined forces for a Southern-inspired four-course dinner. The menu included:

-          Sarah Simmons’ fattoush salad with roasted beet puree, benne seed buttermilk and cider vinaigrette

-          Jeremiah Langhorne’s grilled South Carolina swordfish with wild brassicas, Sea Island red peas and aged pork

-          Sean Brock’s Charleston shellfish + benne stew with Geetchie samp grits

-          April Bloomfield’s roasted heritage pork with creamed heirloom hominy and collard greens

Guests each received a copy of the Festival’s 2013 ticket brochure as well as a bottle of concord grape vinegar from Sean Brock’s kitchen at McCrady’s. Each course seemed to be better than the one before it and a great time was had by all!

City Grit was one of many small businesses in NYC hit hard by Hurricane Sandy. Sarah and her team sustained huge financial losses from cancelled events and spoiled food and their future is uncertain. Since nobody knows hurricanes better than residents of Charleston, the Festival put together a raffle at the dinner to raise funds for City Grit. Raffle items including Festival passes, airline tickets, gift bags from Every Day with Rachael Ray and a package at Wild Dunes Resort raised approximately $2,000 for City Grit!

Thanks to all who attended the event and the chefs who gave their time to make it so great. Hope to see you all in Charleston at the Festival!