Don't look now y'all, but it's about 127 degrees outside. One way I keep cool, besides sinking into a pool of ice water up to my nose (hat on to protect against UVs, of course) is to think pleasant and cool thoughts.
I talk to people about St. Patrick's Day; we talk about Christmas. Even the talk of football season helps me fall into a virtual reality of pleasant temperatures. I tell myself that, anyway. Regularly.
All of that said, it is about this time every year when the calendar starts to fall into place with a lot of events going on in the fall. Not the least of which is the Savannah Food & Wine Festival, coming to our fine city Nov. 7-13.
It's hard to believe this event is now in its fourth year, but it isn't hard to believe that the popularity is skyrocketing. Attendees at Taste of Savannah last year can tell you that.
If you are a regular reader of this column, then you know I also make a habit this time of the year to remind you of the fun we all have that week around town. Most tickets for the events that week quietly go on sale at the beginning of the summer. The die-hards grab theirs while they can, easily. The others? Well ... here's an anology for the football fans among us. How many of you order tickets to your favorite team's away games when the order form arrives in April? You ask your friends if they want to join you, but they dismiss the inquiry because, well, the game is eight months away. Then, three days before Georgia-Tennessee, they call asking if you have any tickets. No, I don't. Fool. I asked you in the spring and you blew me off. Hope you paid your cable bill.
I joke, but the same thing applies to the Savannah Food & Wine Festival. Yes, I have fielded emails and phone calls myself.
Of course, there is a ton of great food in any number of restaurants across town that week. There will be again this year. A ton, really. It is impossible to eat it all. Trust me, I have tried.
One event that is carving out its own space as a go-to is the James Beard Foundation Celebrity Chef Tour Dinner, set this year for Wednesday, Nov. 9. Those of us who have experienced this night of fantastic food during the festival all know the dishes never disappoint. All three years have been fantastic, but the consensus last year was that it was the best of the three. The food was absolutely stunning. The wines, very good in years one and two, were over-the-top fantastic. I could bore you with a list of dishes, varietals and commentary, but I value your time. If I could only attend one dinner that week, it would be this one. If I were on the fence, the lineup of chefs would knock me off of it. Like, real quick.
It's important for me to note that this isn't just an out-of-town chef dinner. Not at all. Every year, the event has had a local flavor to it. The idea is to celebrate Savannah's food scene with some amazing talent from across the South.
Chris Hastings, Steven Satterfield, Anthony Lamas and Jonathon Waxman are just some of the names who have come to Savannah and turned out some fantastic food. This year it is no different.
Sue Zemanick and Ryan Prewitt from New Orleans and John Currence from Oxford, Miss., are just three who will join Savannah chef Lauren Teague of Atlantic, Dusty Grove of Pacci, Jean Yves Vendeville of Savannah Tech and host chef Rob Britton of Cohen's Retreat. This has been and will continue to be a big deal in our city. The only thing that will change, really, is just how big of a deal it will continue to be.
Indeed you've read correctly - the "Beard Dinner" as we have come to call it, has moved to Cohen's Retreat in Savannah. If you aren't familiar with that property, you should be. Chef Rob has been on board since last year and has done a nice job overhauling the menus there, both lunch and dinner. The event is undoubtedly in good hands.
If you've attended this dinner in the past, then you know the tickets aren't inexpensive. The same way I can use this space to tell you all about a fabulous $10 burger in Bloomingdale, I will call to your attention the fact that tickets for this dinner are $185. Yes, each. No, you don't get to keep the dishes or silverware. I will follow that up by saying I'm not here to convince to you step into another stratosphere for dinner (especially for two), but I will tell you that the event has either sold out or gotten very close to sold out in years one through three. I have no trouble believing it will again. I'm hoping they'll let me stand outside the back door and toss me some table scraps.
Seriously, the quality of this dinner is tremendous. Those of us with a front-row seat watching Savannah's food scene evolve, grow and mature are very much loving the interest we are getting from some fantastic talents across the region. I've heard of chefs making commitments more than a year in advance to Savannah Food & Wine Festival because they want to be here. They know the market is growing. Of course, we do as well, but it's nice when we can enjoy some world-class Southern cuisine without getting on an airplane.
Yes, we have a couple of places in town where we can do that already, but it's always nice to mix things up a bit and play host to some fantastic talent. That's what you will find not only that entire week here in Savannah, but particularly Nov. 9 at Cohen's Retreat. It's quite likely you will eat it and like it.
See you on TV,