March 6 - March 10, 2019

Charleston Wine + Food

Tasting Notes

CHSWFF Blog

Beyond The Plate: The Art of Restaurant Design with David Thompson

When you visit your favorite restaurant or discover a new one, what do you notice the most about your experience? The food and drinks are of course an important part of dining out, as well as the service, but the architecture of the building around you can have a significant influence on your visit. For many new restaurants in Charleston, David Thompson of David Thompson Architect is the one who helps make the visions of restaurateurs a reality. David is the architect behind some of the most influential restaurants in Charleston, including FIG, Butcher & Bee, The Grocery and more. I had the pleasure of talking with David about how he started his career in architecture, why restaurant design has more in common with residential design instead of commercial, and about the stories behind both The Cigar Factory and The Ordinary. David will be talking even more about these two projects during this year’s Charleston Wine and Food Festival, at Flavor By Design.

  How It All Began David Thompson knew at an early age that he wanted to pursue architecture as a career (in 1st grade to be specific). It all started when a famous playground designer came to his school in Northern Virginia to create a new playground at a time where there was a movement in the industry.   “It was a revolution in playground design where they were going from the really minimalist, awesome metal playgrounds of our grandparents time to really elaborate maze-like wooden structures,” said David. The designer selected a representative from each grade to help design the playground, and David was the one chosen to represent his first-grade class. Although elements of architecture were in his genes (his father was a land developer along with a grandfather who was a house framer), this moment was what lead him to the career he has today. Upon arriving to Charleston in 1999, David worked mostly on development related projects like office buildings and strip malls, which didn’t appeal as much to him. In his next job, David primarily designed elementary schools in the Lowcountry (including Mary Ford, Malcolm C. Hursey, and the Early Childhood Development Center). Although this was a more rewarding experience, it was after he joined Reggie Gibson Architects when restaurants became part of his focus.   What Makes Restaurant Design Unique “Well, the interesting thing about restaurants is that for such a small project they are really complicated. In some ways building a new building from the ground up is simpler than designing a restaurant. Restaurants are kind of the perfect storm between residential design and commercial design. So you have all this attention to detail, craftsmanship and interior design that's much more like residential design, but in a commercial application.“ Even if designing a restaurant feels more like a residential project at times, the process is much faster. While custom residential projects can take years, the average restaurant for David Thompson Architect takes only 12-14 months - from design to opening. “It’s really fast and intense, which is fun but stressful.” Outside of the speed and intensity, there’s also a level of care and investment in restaurant design that’s not normally seen in commercial projects. During the process, an intense relationship is formed between the architect and the restaurant owner and operator. “One of the reasons the process its so rich is because it means so much to them.”
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    Uncovering the Past for the Present The Cigar Factory is one of the more notable projects David Thompson has been involved in, and for that project (like many renovation projects on the peninsula), there was a unique story behind the building that was important to preserve in its next life. “Our personal belief inside this office is that restaurant design, and really any design, is an opportunity to tell a story. So sometimes you have to make that story up - and a lot of restaurant design involves sort of a fantasy component. It's like a theater project. But it's better when it's real and it's authentic. One of the great things about renovations in Charleston is the story’s usually there- you just have to uncover it. Then it's all about how you want to present it - how does it then weave into the story of whoever's using space now? Because it's not just all about what used to happen. It’s what happened first, second, third, and now what is going to happen next.“ With some of these renovations, however, an uncovery and discovery process happens first, especially when a historic building is updated by others for modern-day use. The Cigar Factory was unique since its previous use was relatively utilitarian, which did not require much to be stripped away. The bigger challenge was preserving the architectural integrity of the building while also adhering to modern day building codes.  
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  “There’s a battle of compromise of how much can you do so without losing too much - and can you just make the best of it. I'd say a good example of that in Mercantile and Mash is that although the developer already structurally reinforced all the floors, they had not done the same for the columns. So you had these big, beautiful wood columns throughout the space, and as you start to add weight to them they actually were so old they wanted to bust. The knee-jerk reaction and simplest thing would be to sandwich them with all this wood and you never see them again. We developed this really beautiful steel strap that is basically like a girdle for the column- so when under pressure and they don't explode. And it's in the style of the industrial connections you would have found through the building. I don't think people probably realize that those are new, and for me, that's a win. I think it's great when that line gets blurred. It's not a copy but it's done in the right spirit to where it doesn't jump out at you with a flashing neon light.’’ The Ordinary, from an uncovery and discovery process, was a very different project. Prior to its transformation into one of the standout seafood establishments in the Southeast, 544 King Street was home to a branch of Bank of America. From the outside, you can tell that it is a beautiful building, but according to David, no one involved, from the contractor to Mike Lata, really understood how concealed the beauty of this building was until walking inside.  
  “When we walked in there was a standard office ceiling at about 11 feet with fluorescent lights, cubicles and carpet. And the only thing you saw that gave you any hint of something cool going on was the vault door that's still there.” Once they started removing walls, beautiful brick walls with recesses that matched the windows outside were revealed, and a stairway hidden within offices in the back of the building lead to the discovery of a mezzanine.  “When you went on the mezzanine and looked over the drop ceiling, you realized there are 10 to 12 more feet up there. And then you could see the ceiling that you see today - it had just all been covered up. It was unbelievable.”   The Importance of Local As David mentioned earlier, telling the story of a building through architecture even after a renovation is an essential part of the process. On projects like The Ordinary and The Cigar Factory, David collaborates as much as he can with local artisans and craftsman. During the discovery phase of a project, so much is revealed, and having someone nearby to “freestyle with” at a moments notice is invaluable, especially when the unexpected is revealed. “You can get online and find any number of reclaimed wood guys that will sell you beams from Germany or anywhere else - beams that look really believable. But it just doesn't enrich the process. And it also doesn't do anything for your local economy. As important as the design component is the localist perspective of keeping money in Charleston and supporting local businesses.” Outside of supporting the local economy, local artisans have a sense of ownership in the process that is hard to achieve when working with someone outside of the region. “When you bring artisans in and don't try to prescribe the entire design for them, and instead let them participate, you get so much more because they believe in as much as you do and it has their signature on it.”  
To read the original article, check out http://jaieats.com/blog/beyondtheplate.  
Illustration by Tyler Pate 
 
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Magnolia's Famous Pimento

On Friday we had the pleasure of chatting with the Executive Chef of Magnolia's, Kelly Franz. You can catch the full video on our Facebook page. Kelly dished on all thing Charleston Wine + Food and taught us how to make Magnolia'a famous pimento cheese recipe. The best part is - its so easy to make! Full recipe below and make sure to catch Kelly at Opening Night, in the Culinary Village and of course, at Magnolia's for lunch or dinner.  

Pimento Cheese 

  • 1 large roasted red pepper, peeled, seeded, and chopped (see below), or 1cup jarred diced red pimientos
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped stuffed Queen olives
  • 2 cups New York or Vermont sharp white cheddar cheese, grated
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2+ Tbsp. mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley (optional)
  • Pinch of cayenne pepper
Combine all of the ingredients in a mixing bowl and mix well. Refrigerate until ready to serve.  

Roasted Peppers

Thin peppers will have a shorter roasting time. It’s preferable to use fresh peppers that look very healthy and have good thick flesh.   Preheat an oven to 350 degrees.   Wash, drain, and dry the peppers. Rub the peppers with olive oil, just to coat them lightly. Place the peppers on a baking sheet and roast them in the oven for about 20 minutes, turning once or twice. The skin should be well blistered and blackened in some places.   Remove the peppers from the oven. Place them in a small bowl and cover tightly with plastic wrap. Let the peppers cool for 10 to 15 minutes. The skin will be become loose and very easy to remove. Peel the skin off of the peppers. Remove the stems, cores, and seeds. Do not rinse.  
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From Playwright to Dinner Plates

Owning some of Charleston’s most popular restaurants wasn’t always in the game plan for restaurateur Brooks Reitz. Growing up, Reitz wanted to be a playwright. However, after having lunch with a Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright he realized the stage wasn’t where he wanted to call home for the rest of his life.Reitz went back to the drawing board to figure out his next steps.   The Kentucky native had always had a passion for food and decided to move to Louisville to work in a new hotel opening in Kentucky’s largest city.There, Reitz worked his way up the ladder, eventually landing the role of general manager in the hotel’s restaurant. “Here I was at 23, running a restaurant,” Reitz said. “I had no idea what I was doing.”   Fast forward 6-8 years and Reitz is now one of the most recognizable names in the Charleston’s culinary scene.   Reitz has since grown his business into a small empire with a trio of restaurants- Leon’s Oyster Shop, Little Jack’s Tavern and Melfi’s (opening just in time for the 2018 Charleston Wine + Food festival)- delivering delicious menus that keep customers coming back time-and-time again.   Despite his success in the restaurant business, Reitz’s background in writing continues to play an integral role in the creation of his restaurants.   The design of Reitz’s restaurants are just as important as the food being served, with the restaurateur paying close attention to details in order to create a eating space that tells a story.   Take for example Little Jack’s Tavern: a casual chophouse on Upper King Street serving up steaks, salads and sandwiches.   “To create the concept for Little Jack’s, we came up with the story of a boxer called Jack,” Reitz recalled. “After leaving the boxing world, because he was so small for that arena, he moved to Charleston where he opened up a little, tin-roofed bar. That bar then eventually became a restaurant that was passed down through generations in Jack's family. We imagined what the restaurant might look like today after being passed through many hands, and that is what we executed in the design of Little Jack's.   The story of Little Jack runs through the restaurant’s decor with boxing memorabilia dotting the walls, creating a fun and laid back atmosphere that diners can enjoy while delving into one of Little Jack’s famous cheeseburgers.   The care Reitz puts into crafting each of his restaurants is a reflection of the dedication the restaurateur has towards his businesses and his customers. “At the end of the day, I don’t want to be the best restaurant,” Reitz said. “I just want to be people’s favorite restaurant.”   As we sit down to a plate of Leon’s chargrilled oysters paired with the restaurant’s Siam salad, we think he might just be onto something.
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10 Can't Miss Events Under $100

It’s crunch time people! With the festival less than almost a week away, those looking to purchase last minute tickets to the best events can look no further. Check out our favorite events under $100 here: Fowl Mouth - $95 This’ll be the best #partyfowl you’ve ever seen. Check us out at Cooper River Brewing Co. for all things winged fowl. Accompany your smoky snacks with fresh beer, wine, and deep bourbon cocktails at this low-key hangout that’s sure to kick off your weekend the right way! Dynamic Drinking: Making Sinsky Of It All - $95 For one of the best deals of the festival, make your friends jealous with this once in a lifetime chance to hear what Master Sommeliers and elite vineyard owners have to say about some of the best wine in the world. Sustainable and environmentally friendly wines are the focus of this panel, so sit back and get ready to have your tastebuds tannon-talized! Commodores + Admirals - $75 Think delicious party at Charleston’s hottest new late night hangout, The Commodore. Yummy snacks and craft cocktails to be provided by Roti Rolls accompanied by special guests from The Lot on James Island and Eric Warnstedt of the Hen of the Wood (Burlington, VT). Come dance the night away with us at CHSWFF’s hottest new event of 2017! The Ice Age of Mixology - $75 Ever wondered what it takes to make a good cocktail? Fresh mixers, elite liquor, and ICE, of course! Come to Proof with mixologist Charlotte Voisey to learn how ice can make or break a great drink. What The Pho? - $70 Oodles of East-Asian inspired noodles and high energy music by DJ Rehab, this event held at the Le Creuset Atelier is sure to go down in the history books. Imagine a dozen of your favorite local and guest chefs partyin’ all night long- chopsticks provided. The Business of Food - $70 With guests speaker stars like Chef Danny Meyer, Nancy Silverton, Ruth Reichl, Darcy Shankland, and Steve Palmer, those looking to get the inside scoop on the restaurant business look no further. Those already in the local food + bev business, enter code INDY17 and receive a $25 ticket! Namaste Bubbly - $65 Join us in the Cedar Room at the Cigar Factory for an exclusive yoga class taught by local favorite Cortney Ostrosky followed by Sunday champs and healthy fare. Round up your friends and let’s get fizzical! Pedals + Pints - $65 Bring your own bike or rent one from Trek Mt. Pleasant for a stylish, leisurely ride through downtown Charleston with your favorite brewmasters. Reward yourself after with local food truck bites and drafts; this event is sure to be snatched up by beer and bicycle lovers everywhere, so don’t wait! Iron Mixologist - $65 This live action, Iron Chef America-style cocktail combat is back and supported by Imbibe to bring guests the ultimate exhilarating experience. Enjoy exclusive cocktails crafted by local mixologists at Bar Mash and watch the competition unfold! Pecha Kucha + Wine + Food - $40 Join an all-star lineup of local chefs and restaurateurs MC’ed by Tradesman Brewing Company’s Chris Winn to be inspired by food + bev chatter and snacks + drinks. Get your tickets now for this 3rd time event that’s sure to be the opposite of boring. Didn't find the event curated perfectly for you + your crew? No fear! Find a complete list of all of our events with a simple click!
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Local Love: CWF Excellence Scholarship Recipient 2016-2017

On a sunny southern January day, we sat across from an eager and animated college freshman who exclaimed, “I knew Charleston was where I was meant to be. I even wrote myself a letter, four years before attending, affirming, College of Charleston was my dream school.” Jane Muller, the 2016-2017 Charleston Wine + Food scholarship recipient continued, “I wouldn’t be here without my scholarship award, and I am so grateful for that.”   Since starting school in August, the young freshman has settled into southern city life + adores everything about Charleston’s historic charm. She also enthusiastically embraces the lowcountry food scene, which boasts plenty of restaurant options to satisfy her love of chicken. “My favorite restaurant has to be Magnolia’s, they have the best fried chicken,” shared Jane.   Hailing from Long Island, New York, Jane has a passion for traveling, eating great food + helping people. Naturally, Jane fell in love with the hospitality industry and knew Charleston was the place to explore that passion. After applying for many scholarships offered through the School of Business at the College of Charleston, Jane stumbled upon the Charleston Wine + Food scholarship opportunity.   Charleston Wine + Food has been awarding the Excellence Scholarship to a College of Charleston freshman each year since 2008. In 2016 Charleston Wine + Food had a $9.1 million impact on the Charleston economy and the Excellence Scholarship is just one of the ways Charleston Wine + Food stimulates the Charleston economy. In addition to the scholarship, each recipient is also offered internship and mentorship opportunities with Charleston Wine + Food, which allowed many of the past recipients to obtain great jobs in the Charleston community.   Required to apply, the application is a simple essay describing a hospitality event the applicant has been a part of + what it means to them. Charleston Wine + Food will continue to #PourIntoCharleston by awarding scholarships to students at the College of Charleston throughout the upcoming years.   *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. 
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Meet The Finalists: Anthony Kearse

Meet our first of four 2017 cocktail competition finalists, Anthony Kearse!  Anthony is the resident bartender at Feathertop in downtown Charleston, but is sure ready to bring some Louisiana flair to the Lowcountry and spice up the competition!  We sat down with Anthony to get the 411 on his background + his cocktail. Without further ado: Q: Where's your hometown and where do you currently bartend? A: I was born in Louisiana, but am an Army Brat and spent the last 20 years off and on in Columbia, SC.  Bartender at Feathertop. Q: What is the name of the cocktail you entered in the competition? A: Havana Turkey Shoot in the Holy City. Q: Best bar for drinks with friends? A: The Whig (Columbia, SC) Q: Favorite drink to make? A: Dealer’s Choice. Q: Best part about being a bartender in Downtown Charleston? A: Meeting other bartenders and people since moving to Charleston. Q: Best-kept bartending secret? A: I have a lab at home with over 400 bottles! Q: Anything you want to say about your three competitors? A: Live, learn, and have fun! BONUS Question: Your spirit cocktail? A: Gin & Tonic!

Join us Wednesday, December 7th for our Rum Rum Rudolph Cocktail Crawl to meet all four finalists as they present their one-of-a-kind, rum-centric cocktails. No tickets needed! Information can be found here

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Hotel Packages: Your One Stop Shop for Savvy Festival Navigation

With over 100 events across the city of Charleston and more than 70 hotel options, who can choose when it comes to Charleston Wine+ Food? Our local hospitality groups make it easy! Whether you’re a savvy CHSWFF devotee or new to the scene, the culmination of hotel packages we have curated for you will help you navigate your travel and the 2017 festival with ease. So don’t let your FOMO get you down. Peruse our hotel packages and find the one that’s right for you! We have highlighted a few of these stellar packages below. The Francis Marion: So Close You Can Taste It Located across from Marion Square, The Francis Marion Hotel has the perfect view of the heart of the festival - The Culinary Village. Enjoy prime proximity and an array of à la carte ticket options including tickets to Opening Night: Rooted in Charleston, Fowl Mouth and A Bourbon Affair.

The Wentworth Mansion: Wine + Food Gourmand Package

Treat yourself to the ultimate Charleston experience with this exclusive three night package for two in the luxurious Wentworth Mansion. Touting the best view of the Holy City, you will savor every minute of your stay.. Rise and shine downtown then make your way to local Runnymede Plantation for fire-kissed dishes From the Ashes, or relish in an afternoon at the RiverOaks for our Iron + Oak Signature Event.

John Rutledge House Inn: Wine + Food Gastronome Package Enjoy the historic elegance that is the John Rutledge House Inn and experience the new ambiance of Anson’s renovated space with a hotel package that has a flavor for every palette. You’ll satisfy more than just an appetite, as local architect David Thompson takes you through a variety of downtown restaurants exposing you to the story behind design in our new excursion Flavor by Design. This package caters to all your senses - you won’t want to miss out!

Hilton Garden Inn Charleston Waterfront: Girls Just Wanna Have Wine...and Food

Grab your girls and head to Charleston for a wine lover’s dream weekend. Sip on wines from Michele Chiarlo during a once-in-a-lifetime experience at the Indaco Wine Lunch with Executive Chef Kevin Getzewich + James Beard winner Chef Andrew Carmellini. Then head back to your hotel to determine which local somm takes home the ultimate bragging rights of Sumo Sommelier. The perks continue with available tickets to two Charleston Wine + Food traditions, the Culinary Village and Gospel Brunch. Your seats won’t be saved for long, so grab your tickets soon for an experience like no other!

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Reserve your seat: Signature Dinners

Over the years, our Signature Dinners have become a staple Charleston Wine + Food experience. Each unique dinner brings together the perfect pairing of beloved local chef, acclaimed guest chef and prestigious winemaker for one unforgettable menu and evening. And, although quite a few of the over 25 Signature Dinners planned for 2016 have already sold out, we wanted to give you the scoop on tickets remaining. See the quick list below and link through to each event page for the full bite. Be sure to reserve your seat at before they're all gone! Thursday, March 3 Cypress The Grocery Twenty Six Divine Two Boroughs Larder Wild Olive Friday, March 4 Craftsmen Kitchen & Tap House Beer Dinner High Cotton Magnolias Old Village Post House Pole-to-Plate Fish Dinner Poogan's Porch Beer Dinner Saturday, March 5 South Carolina BBQ Tent Revival with Jim 'n Nick's and the Southern Foodways Alliance Lana The Park Cafe Bubbles & Truffles @ Circa 1886
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We totally get it. The 2018 festival has a lot going on. Let us guide you through the ticketing process, answer any questions, and help point you in the right direction.

Here's how to reach us:

843 727 9998
info@charlestonwineandfood.com
635 Rutledge Avenue, Suite 101, Charleston, SC 29403

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