Food quote of note

"The purpose of life is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experience"…Eleanor Roosevelt

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

The Saint Simons Food & Spirits Festival

I know I may be a little prejudiced, but, I have to say - this was one great festival!  I wanted to share some pictures with you ... but, next year - y'all have to come on down and experience it for yourselves!!

Our market featured local artists, farmers and specialties. 
Guests strolled through the market before entering the tasting tents.

Gascoigne Bluff was a beautiful setting for the festival.  The moss-draped trees
provided a lovely canopy for our tents and shade for our guests. 

Over 25 local restaurants prepared dishes for our tasting tents. 

It's the Georgia coast - there had to be oysters!  The entire festival
highlighted local cuisine prepared by local chefs - so, of course everything
was fresh and genuine Southern!

Trust me - nobody went away hungry!

One of the best parts of working on the Festival was meeting some of the 
talented chefs on The Golden Isles. Chef Matthew, from Little Saint Simons,
is a lovely person and gifted chef who is building an amazing
garden and restaurant featuring fresh, local foods. 

Cheers to a great day! 

There were plenty of "spirits" flowing.  One of the great mixologists from the
King & Prince serves up specialty cocktails featuring Southern artisanal spirits. 

On Saturday I was responsible for our demo tent - The Culinary Creations
Cooking Stage.  It was a great job - I got to work directly with
our invited culinary talent, and some super volunteers!

Here's the line-up - Ted Dennard, Ford Fry, Libbie Summers,
Nathalie Dupree and Cynthia Graubart - WOWZA!!

Ted Dennard, the founder of Savannah Bee Company was a blast - fun and
laid back.  His demo featured some great smoked salmon with a honey glaze,
a honey cheesecake and a honey-sweetened lemonade with mint. 
He's the hometown hero and an all-around great guy!

Chef Ford Fry from Atlanta (JCT Kitchen, no 246, The Optimist) served up
creamed Carolina Gold Rice with local shrimp - of course, it was delicious. 
Here's a shout out to Timmy Stubbs, Native Seafood, for providing our
shrimp.  Looking forward to a ride on the shrimp boat sometime soon, Timmy.

Libbie Summer is one cool chick!  She's a food stylist, cookbook
author and blogger who preaches the gospel of "food-inspired living". 
She put together an amazing "food-inspired table" with corn as
her theme.  It was a true WOW!

Libbie and her husband Josh - signing books and chatting
with guests under the oaks.

There she is - Nathalie Dupree the Grand Dame of Southern Cooking - holding
court, cracking jokes and making biscuits.  Working with Nathalie was
absolutely one of the highlights of the Festival for me.

That's me - prepping tasting portions of Nathalie's biscuits for guests
in the demo tent. Nathalie Dupree's Two Ingredient Biscuits
with a dollop of honey butter and a drizzle
of Savannah Bee honey on top - that's pure heaven!

The day ended with a Low-Country concert featuring The Mosier Brothers
and Mudcat.  Mudcat roused the crowd with their lively march around
the grounds before taking the stage.

A great end to a great day of food and spirits.  Mudcat brought it home
with a concert -- music flowing through the oaks and a backdrop
of a colorful sunset over the water. 
It just doesn't get any better than this! 

Back on the Grid

I know, I know - it's been too long - I've missed you all and I am officially apologizing for my woeful lack of posting in the past weeks.  I know some of you are worried about me...I even got a text from a friend the other day asking me to confirm my existence - yes, Patti - I promise, I am alive.  Sorry I've been so out of touch, but I've been working my butt off getting prepared for The Saint Simons Food & Spirits Festival.  Who knew my intern assignment would turn out to be such a big (and fun and rewarding) job?

So - here's a quick catch up.  As most of you know, I've spent the past few months as an intern for a culinary production company, Culinary Works.  It's been a great experience and I've had the opportunity to see many different aspects of this type of work - food styling, recipe development, and culinary event management.  Our major project for the past few months has been planning and executing The Inaugural Saint Simons Food & Spirits Festival, on Saint Simons Island, GA.  The Festival took place last week - the Festival proper was Saturday Sept 22, but we had dinners and other events on Thursday, Friday and Sunday - it was quite the weekend!  But, I'm home now and ready to get back in the blogging saddle. 

This was a major project!  Please take note of the word "Inaugural" - yep, that means this was the first year of the Festival and there was nothing to work from - we had to develop everything from scratch.  Gena, my boss and the principal of Culinary Works, was the Festival Director and essentially responsible for all elements of the Festival - and, as her Director of Operations (I know, gotta love that title!!), I have gotten to work on every part as well.   The Festival was birthed by a group of enthusiastic local folks on Saint Simons Island who wanted to showcase all the great culinary talent in their community and raise dollars and awareness for a great cause - Hospice of the Golden Isles.  After a few months they realized that their volunteer committee wouldn't be able to pull off such a large event and called in Gena, who happens to do this kind of thing for a living and also happens to be a native of Saint Simons. The rub - they didn't call her in until just a few months ago - so it's essentially been a mad dash to get everything put together by September 20-23 - completing a 9 month project in 3 months! (Check out our website

Over the past 3 months I've touched every aspect of the Festival - from soliciting sponsors to writing website postings and press releases to development of the overall event schedule to writing menus for Festival dinners to working with our invited culinary talent to developing all Festival signage to organizing the restaurants participating in our Tasting Tent to working with local farmers who provided food for our chefs. I've spent lots of time on Saint Simons Island, which is filled with beautiful scenery and lovely people. I've been lucky enough to work with some amazing people - from the local chefs (Griffin Bufkin and Harrison Sapp of Southern Soul BBQ, Dave Snyder of Halyards, Jonathan Jerusalmy of Sea Island) to the dedicated committee members to our Festival talent - Grand Dame of Southern Cooking Nathalie Dupree and her co-author Cynthia Graubart, Savannah Bee's founder Ted Dennard, cookbook author and blogger Libbie Summers, and Atlanta chef and restaurateur Ford Fry.

So, after weeks of preparation, the Festival was upon us last week.  We headed down to the island bright and early last Monday morning and set up a production office in our donated house.  Hard to imagine, but as busy as the last few months have been, they paled in comparison to last week.  Festival Week was a whirlwind of activity, all leading up to our First Bite Kick-Off Reception on Thursday night.

Saint Simons Island - not such a bad place to work - huh?
Enjoyed a relaxing evening on the island early in the week, a
much-needed respite before the craziness of Festival Week began.

Beatiful, moss-covered trees fill Gascoigne Bluff, our Festival site. 
Hard to believe this space was filled with tents and hundreds of
hungry festival goers by the end of the week.  

Let the games begin - we posted our Festival banner early in the week
to welcome folks to the island and spread the word about The Festival.

Like most projects I've worked on, there was a time when we all doubted this thing would really happen - how could it, there was so much to do?  But, by the end of the week, we were thrilled with how well the Festival came together - how much fun everyone had, how beautiful the events were, and how great it was to be a part of something that highlighted the local culinary talent, celebrated the local culture and also benefitted a great cause.  Make no mistake - by Sunday we were EXHAUSTED - but, we felt good and proud of all we had accomplished. 
So - I'm back on the grid - thank you all for being patient with me while I had my head down working on the Festival.  I've got lots to catch you up on - so stay tuned.