How did you get your start as a food blogger/influencer?
I have always been obsessed with all things culinary: exploring new restaurants, browsing food blogs, binge watching Anthony Bourdain and cooking/baking for my friends and family. At my college in Michigan I started a “College Chef” column at our newspaper to showcase simple and affordable recipes that college kids could master. From there I created my blog Saltandpreppy.com to document all my favorite recipes so they would be easily sharable with others. Upon moving to Charleston I continued my love for cooking and baking and also found exploring new restaurants to be my favorite way to spend time with people. I was quickly introduced to the world of food instagrammers through my PR work for various restaurants at my company Lou Hammond Group. We would often host dinners and special events inviting the same influencers to experience and I quickly became friends with many of them.
You are the creative force behind Tastemakers Charleston, a monthly meetup of local influencers. Where did you get the idea to bring everyone together?
It’s no secret that Charleston is a foodie town through and through. There is a large number of wonderful people in this city that have found a passion in documenting their culinary adventures in the city through their Instagram handles. I was running into the same people time and time again at our restaurant PR events and thought it would be beneficial for everyone- both the influencers and the restaurants- to create a group to streamline the invitation process along with the tracking of social media coverage. The idea of TastemakersCHS was to create a community of people who share the same passion while expanding our reach and influence. We began with seven members in 2016 and have quickly grown to over 25 members, with a combined reach of over half a million followers on Instagram. I’m excited to be using our group’s social media reach to raise money and awareness for local non-profits through our new TastemakersCHS charity partnership program which launched a few months ago!
Why do you think it’s important for influencers to collaborate and support one another?
In a community as tight knit as Charleston, it only makes sense for influencers to support and engage each other. Since joining TastemakersCHS, many members have found ways to partner together on specific projects, brand initiatives and other creative collaborations outside of our bi-weekly events. While the majority of members manage their Instagram on the side for a fun hobby, some with a larger reach are finding ways to turn their passion into their career- especially as the power of social media in the restaurant world continues to grow. It has been amazing to see so many members develop strong bonds with one another and become friends through TasteMakers.
In addition to Tastemakers, you also founded Crumbs4Charleston, a nonprofit supporting local culinary initiatives. Tell us a little more about Crumbs and its mission.
My love for cooking growing up quickly changed to a love for baking upon my moving to Charleston, since baked goods were something I could easily bring to friends and coworkers to brighten their day. Experimenting with new recipes became my way to de-stress and unwind after work, and I found myself bringing sweets into work a few times a week. Seeing how stocked with sugar our work kitchen was getting, I knew I wanted to do something more with my passion for baking other than bring in sweets to my awesome coworkers.I began Crumbs4Charleston with the desire to align my love for baking with my love for God by offering friends the chance to purchase sweets & give back to awesome charities in Charleston making a true impact. I offer three different baked goods every two months (everything from brownies and cookies to brittles and fudge) for purchase on my website www.crumbs4charleston.com and donate 100% of the proceeds, minus the cost of ingredients, to a different Charleston charity. I try and offer unique baked goods (like Thin Mint Donut, Cookie Dough Stuffed Cupcakes and Candy Cane Fudge) that people can’t normally find in stores. I do all my baking on Saturdays and hand deliver to customer’s doors on Sundays. I aim to not only donate to different Charleston charities, but help raise awareness of all that they do through Crumbs4Charleston promotion on social media.
What kind of charities have you worked with and why did you choose to focus on culinary-focused organizations?
I have worked with over 12 non-profits in the city thus far and while many aim to combat hunger in some way (such as Fields to Families, Fresh Future Farm and East Cooper Meals on Wheels), others focus on other causes ranging from addiction recovery to human trafficking prevention to sea turtle rescue. There are endless non-profits in the city doing incredible work to help bring light to darkness and I feel extremely grateful top play a very small part in their individual missions. I recognize how lucky I am to live a life free of hunger, poverty and need and feel a deep call to assist in helping my neighbors who are struggling.
If someone wants to support Crumbs, how can they donate?
People can view this month’s bake goods and place orders on Crumbs4Charleston.com. I am currently offering Bacon Almond Brittle, Candy Cane Fudge and Peppermint Bark for December, with all proceeds going to Fresh Future Farm to help provide healthy and affordable produce to low-income families in North Charleston!
What’s next for you, Tastemakers and Crumbs?
(You’re one busy woman!)
I’m super pumped for all that is on the horizon for TastemakersCHS and Crumbs4Charleton in 2019! As far as TastemakersCHS, I’m excited to continue to grow and develop our charity partnership program. As a part of partnering with TastemakersCHS, we connect the restaurants to our charity partners and develop specific dish or drink donation for the month, encouraging Charleston diners to eat out for a good cause. Our end goal with our TastemakersCHS charity partnership program is to give as many Charleston non-profits as possible the added exposure and awarness they deserve, while raising funds at the same time. As far as Crumbs4Charleston, I hope to continue to grow my charity network and customer base. I have plans to partner with a few local coffee shops in the new year to sell my treats and in turn increase the money I am able to raise for each non-profit partner.Images courtesy of: Callie Cranford, Mac Kilduff and Zheng Chia
FOR A LITTLE TASTE OF SOUTHERN CHARM:With an enchanting blend of opulence + intimacy, history + hospitality, culture + cuisine, and art + architecture, Charming Inns represents true southern hospitality. Their multiple properties, including Fulton Lane Inn, Kings Courtyard Inn, and the Wentworth Mansion, offer accommodations perfect for anyone looking to experience the Holy City while enjoying the fun + flavor of Charleston Wine + Food.
FOR THOSE WHO LOVE TO WATCH THE SUNSET:Set on the banks of the Ashley River, Hilton Garden Inn Charleston Waterfront/Downtown offers unrivaled views of the beautiful Lowcountry coastline with the heart of historic downtown easily accessible. Charleston Wine + Food guests will find themselves only minutes from their favorite events, including the Culinary Village, while taking in the sights + sounds of the iconic waterfront.
FOR A LAP OF LUXURY:
Indulge yourself in the best of Charleston Wine + Food before returning to a warm welcome in the heart of the historic district. Belmond Charleston Place is the pinnacle of southern charm + luxury, with a location only steps from some of your favorite events.
FOR A TOUCH OF SOUTHERN HOSPITALITY:Experience the best in southern charm at a hotel located in the heart of downtown Charleston. The Mills House places you at the center of the Holy City’s bustling arts + cultural community while offering easy access to many Charleston Wine + Food events.
FOR THE CULINARY VILLAGE CONNOISSEUR:The iconic Francis Marion Hotel sits in the heart of downtown Charleston while being only steps from the centerpiece of the Charleston Wine + Food festival, the Culinary Village. Guests can take in the fun + flavor of the historic Holy City with unsurpassed views of the Lowcountry.
FOR A HOME AWAY FROM HOME:You’ll feel at home in the spacious rooms found at the Residence Inn Downtown Riverview located on the banks of Charleston’s coastline. With easy access to downtown Charleston and many Charleston Wine + Food events, you’ll enjoy your time in the Lowcountry without feeling like you ever left the comfort of your own bed.
FOR UNRIVALED VIEWS OF CHARLESTON HARBOR:Experience comfort and southern hospitality at Courtyard Charleston Waterfront hotel, located minutes from the historic district of Charleston. Take in the stunning views of the Ashley River while being only minutes from the heart of Charleston Wine + Food. This unique hotel is perfect for any guest looking to make the most of their time in the Holy City.
FOR THE BEACH BUM:From the shores of Isle of Palms to the southern charm of Downtown Charleston, Wyndham Vacation Rentals offer unique accommodations for Charleston Wine + Food guests looking to experience all the Holy City has to offer. With properties ranging from villas to homes, Wyndham has a property perfectly-tailored to enhance your time in the Lowcountry.
FOR A COZY GETAWAY:Zero George Street is the definition of southern hospitality. Standing at the corner cozy charm + rich elegance, this boutique hotel offers a lush + intimate experience to Charleston Wine + Food guests looking for a luxurious experience.
FOR THE SLEEK + CHIC:Nestled only feet from historic Marion Square, The Dewberry offers sleek + modern accommodations with a nod to the history + culture of Charleston. Located steps from the Culinary Village, guests will enjoy easy access to the festival complemented by unrivaled views of the Holy City.
FOR THOSE NEEDING A LITTLE SPACE:Located only minutes from the heart of downtown Charleston, Homewood Suites by Hilton Charleston Historic District offers a spacious retreat where you can unwind after a long day at the Charleston Wine + Food festival. Acting as the perfect home base for your trip, you won’t miss a minute of the fun during your stay in Charleston.
FOR THE FESTIVAL GOER ON-THE-GO:Holiday Inn Charleston Historic District blends contemporary luxury + traditional southern hospitality to create an unforgettable experience. Situated on the iconic King Street, Charleston Wine + Food guests will find themselves in the middle of the fun + flavor of the festival with a quiet retreat only steps away from their favorite events.
FOR THE HISTORY BUFF:Experience the vibrant culture of Charleston with a stay at the historic Embassy Suites Charleston Historic. Set against the iconic Marion Square, Charleston Wine + Food guests will delight in being feet from the Culinary Village + some of the festival’s top events while still being able to stroll the cobblestone streets of downtown.
FOR THE SIGHTSEER:The Courtyard Charleston Historic District serves up a sought-after southern experience only steps from the heart of Charleston Wine + Food, the Culinary Village. Steeped in southern charm, the Courtyard offers easy access to downtown Charleston, with many popular restaurants + locales found only minutes from the front steps of the hotel.
FOR THE TREND-SETTING TRAVELLER:One of Charleston’s newest hotels, the Cambria Hotel Mount Pleasant offers modern + luxurious lodgings for guests looking to experience the Lowcountry. Blending contemporary style + classic Southern charm, the Cambria Hotel provides stylish accommodations with easy access to downtown Charleston + many Charleston Wine + Food events.
FOR A FEEL OF THE LOWCOUNTRY BREEZE:Relax + unwind after a fun-filled day at the Charleston Wine + Food festival in the stylish + spacious suites at Springhill Suites Riverview. With easy access to the bustling historic district, guests will experience the meaning of southern hospitality + old-world charm while taking in the lively culture of one of the most celebrated southern cities.
“One pork chop in a pan goes dry; Two or more and the fat from one feeds the other.”
- Nathalie DupreeWednesday morning the staff of Charleston Wine + Food gathered around the table for a coffee talk with our first chairperson, Nathalie Dupree. A leading figure for CHSWFF, Nathalie told us how she got to where she is today, and how Charleston Wine + Food came to life. What started as a small meeting of 60 people in the back of High Cotton, grew into the organization we see today. As chairperson of CHSWFF and a natural born trailblazer, Nathalie worked to set the path for the organization today. Nathalie's passion for cooking started back when she was living in the international house at Harvard. She had all the basic lessons you learn in the kitchen, like knowing to never multiply a recipe by 3. She wanted to do more, but was advised by her mom not to. With this advice, she worked various jobs in advertising and PR before moving to London with her former husband. This move gave her the chance to go after her passion and enroll in Le Cordon Bleu London. With a diploma in hand and the advice of Julia Child in her ear, Nathalie left The Cordon Bleu and moved to Spain where she worked as a chef in a small restaurant. Nathalie mentioned a review that titled her as a “Kitchen Manager”. The idea that a women couldn’t be a chef didn’t sit right with her, she new there needed to be more diversity in the kitchens. Every organization has its struggles when it starts. From the beginning Charleston Wine + Food has worked together to make each year better than the last. This is where Nathalie’s Porkchop theory came into play, her advice to us was to remember that we thrive as a team. When there is only one, they get run down and tired, but with two or more, you feed off of each other and solve problems as a unit. Nathalie is a true representation of our higher purpose, she left us inspired to follow her lead and continue to do our best from one pork chop to another.
- Chas Night Bazaar, Saturday, March 3rd