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 www.saintsimonsfoodandspirits.com)
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.