As we find ourselves mere days away from the start of the 2015 Savannah Food & Wine Festival, we are approaching that time where friends of mine (I will politely refer to them as procrastinators) start peppering me with questions about events and what they should attend.
I certainly don't mind answering any questions a friend may have about an event, but sometimes I do wonder why they just don't look up www.savannahfoodandwinefest.com for all of the information they need.
The biggest misconceptions about the festival, really, are price points. The average patron thinks the week is just a bunch of $200-a-head fancy dinners with very little food - and what you can identify you can't pronounce.
That really just isn't true. Yes, of course, there are some higher priced tickets during that week, but as I write this, they are probably close to sold out, if not completely booked already. Someone is obviously seeing the value in those dinners.
Not everyone can afford those types of prices, fair enough, but the reality is there are any number of affordable tickets that food lovers can enjoy. The World's Largest Lowcountry Boil on Nov. 7 is only $25. Taste of Savannah offers a ton of food and drink for $65 per person and the Rising Star Chefs Dinner at Smith Brothers Butcher Shop sold out long ago at $58 per person.
There are tickets available for any number of events, including two that I am pretty excited about.
The Secret Savannah Speakeasy represents the first time Eat It and Like It has gotten involved in the actual conceptualization and planning of a festival event. Certainly we haven't done it alone, but we started the dialogue about this fantastic party back in June. Yes, party.
There will be no sitting around tables flipping through Facebook and Instagram on your phone while you wait for the next course to be served. Not at all. We wanted this event to be more mixer than sit-down dinner. For starters, we wanted an A-list of Savannah chefs as part of this event and frankly, I don't know that I have seen a better collection for one single culinary event.
When you consider the restaurants represented - Elizabeth on 37th, Noble Fare, The Florence, Circa 1875, Tybee Fish Camp, The Wyld Dock Bar and 39 Rue de Jean - you get the idea. The layout at the Blacksmith Shop inside the Georgia State Railroad Museum is going to be along the lines of what some of you may have experienced at the Eat It and Like It Foodie Awards.
Stations will be set up for you to sample as much as you'd like from those great restaurants.
Each dish will be paired with a Prohibition-era cocktail, but there will also be beer and wine as well.
If you eat out with any regularity, then you know that is an absolute steal at $85. Food and drink included? It's tough to beat that. We are having cake for dessert courtesy of our friends at Coastal Confections in Richmond Hill. I haven't seen it yet, but I am told it will be something that would make Cake Boss Buddy up in Hoboken blush.
With most of the events surrounding the festival being wonderful sit-down dinners, we wanted to throw a party. I think we've accomplished that. I would also be remiss if I didn't mention the input and hard work offered by Amy Condon and her staff at Savannah Magazine, as well as event chair Kari Spano and the Do Savannah crew.
This is going to be a fabulous event for a couple of reasons. First off is the collection of culinary talent. Second is the fact it will undoubtedly be different than anything the festival has seen so far. I've spoken to almost all of the chefs involved in this party and they are excited for that very same reason.
One other event that's got me pretty fired up is a higher ticket item, but if you are on the fence about any of them, the Georgia Grown Trustees Wine Challenge Dinner has all the makings of being one of the best under-the-radar dinners of the week.
Of course the flash bulbs all pop when celebrity chefs roll into town for the Beard Foundation dinner, but the lineup for the Georgia Grown dinner is fantastic as well. I had the pleasure of being a guest for the Georgia Grown dinner at the James Beard House in New York City a few weeks ago and I can tell you that it was one of the best meals I've had in a long time. The fascinating part about that was all of the products used for that dinner in New York were "Georgia grown." Everything from the spirits to the beef from Hunter Cattle Company in Brooklet. All of it was flown to the Big Apple for a fantastic dinner. This time around, you don't have to hop on an airplane. You can enjoy it all right here.
If you haven't heard of the Georgia Grown program, it is the marketing arm of the Georgia Department of Agriculture. The idea is to promote only items from across the state that are used in some of Georgia's best restaurants. The number the commissioner shared with us in New York City a few weeks back was 700 restaurants statewide participating in the Georgia Grown program. These are some of the best the state has to offer. What better way to support Georgia's agriculture than at this dinner?
The talent is led by Holly Chute, executive chef at Georgia Grown. It was fascinating watching her keep the beehive that was the Beard House kitchen buzzing during that dinner. Also here in Savannah will be Matt Roher, senior executive chef at The Landings Club, Brandy Williamson from Local 11ten, Kasey Thexton from Savor Savannah and Dave Snyder from Halyards on St. Simons Island. That's a pretty impressive list.
But then again, all of the events that week have impressive lists. The festival has come along nicely in that regard, blending some names from out of town in with some of the best Savannah has to offer. Tickets for that dinner are $135 or $250 per couple. No, it isn't cheap, but I can guarantee you you will eat it and like it.
I could take up all of our time gushing and bragging and loving on all of the events that week. Beyond all of the planning we are doing, I am walking around like a kid in a candy store.
The entire week will be a blur, beginning with the Rascal Flatts concert in Forsyth Park on Nov. 7 as part of the Rock 'n' Roll Savannah Marathon, then the Lowcountry boil that afternoon. Georgia Grown dinner Nov. 9, Celebrity Chef Tour dinner Nov. 11, Speakeasy event Nov. 12 and Taste of Savannah on Nov. 14.
Just another reason why we live in one of the greatest cities in America.
I hope to see you all there.
See you on TV,