Raise a glass, fork and knife to Carolina festivals celebrating food and drink

Courtesy of Euphoria Greenville

Consider yourself a gourmet or a gourmand, or a person who just loves local food and drink? There are lots of reasons in Charlotte and across the Carolinas to celebrate food and beverages, and the chefs, farmers and artisan craft producers who make it possible for all of us to eat and drink local.

Many Charlotte-based chefs are on the road this season, celebrating all that is grown, raised, caught or made in the Carolinas at local and regional festivals. Some of these events span over several days and make a great excuse to take a three-day trip, while others are a singular event.

Plan your next Charlotte staycation or getaway now. You can center your travel on any of these 10 delicious excuses to eat and drink your way through the day, evening or a long weekend.

(1) March 10: Charleston Wine + Food 2019

Various venues in and around Charleston

Photo by Heidi Billotto
Among the sweet and savory bites Charlotte chefs are taking to the Charleston Wine + Food festival is this cucumber bruschetta from Chef Jamie Lynch of 5 Church.

Join 21 of the Charlotte area’s best known chefs and mixologists for Charleston’s annual festival of food and drink. The Queen City culinarians will participate in in various capacities, including demos and tastings in a Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority-sponsored booth from March 8-10 in the festival’s popular Culinary Village.

Many of the dinners and tasting events are already sold out, but you can still have a fabulous weekend with a Culinary Village ticket, available online. According to the Charleston Wine + Food website, your “all-inclusive daily ticket guarantees five hours of tasting, sipping, chef demos, live music, retail therapy, and more.”

(2) March 13, 7-9 p.m.: Taste of the Nation | No Kid Hungry

Brewers at 4001 Yancey

Courtesy of Mimosa Grill
Chef Thomas Marlow, a longtime supporter of Charlotte’s Taste of the Nation event.

Spend an evening with Charlotte’s food experts to benefit No Kid Hungry, a national campaign to end childhood hunger in America. In Charlotte, this annual event is sponsored in part by the Burke Hospitality Group, home to Charlotte’s Mimosa Grill, Upstream Seafood and the Harpers restaurants.

Now is in its 23rd year, Charlotte’s Taste of the Nation brings together 21 of the city’s chefs, restaurants and mixologists for a delicious night of bite-size fare, craft cocktails, premium wine and spirits and delectable desserts.Tickets are $85, or $120 to get in at 6 p.m. with VIP admission. The local No Kid Hungry beneficiaries for 2019 are the Community Culinary School of Charlotte and Second Harvest Food Bank of Metrolina.

(3) March 17: Piedmont Culinary Guild Symposium

Photo courtesy of Piedmont Culinary Guild

This day-long symposium is an in-depth, educational look at North Carolina’s culinary community from grain to glass and farm to table. Join area foodies, farmers, chefs, culinary educators, mixologists, food writers and other industry professionals to learn, teach and share news on what we eat, drink and how we can all grow a healthier, sustainable and diverse food culture. Tickets are $85 and include a continental breakfast, a keynote speech by Chef Katie Button of Curate and Buttons Bagels in Asheville; lunch by Chef Greg Collier and the team at Soul Food Sessions; and an afternoon reception, in addition to a seat in your choice of available sessions in each of the five time slots. Advance reservations are strongly suggested.

Johnson and Wales’ Uptown campus , 801 W. Trade St.

(4) March 25, 6:30-9 p.m.: Sugar Shock

Project 658, 3646 Central Ave.

Courtesy of Sweet Spot Studio in Charlotte
Red velvet cake shooters.

Life is short, so let’s start with dessert. Such is the philosophy with a seated dinner of desserts prepared by a half dozen of Charlotte’s pastry chefs and hosted by Chef Jossie Lukachik of Sweet Spot Studio.

The evening begins with a lineup of savory hors d’oeuvres prepared by Chef Phillip Platoni of Southminster Retirement Community. Guests are then seated to enjoy six courses of sweet treats, compliments of Ashley Anna Tuttle of Community Matters Café; Miranda Brown of The Asbury; Brigitte Oger, owner and chef at Craft Cakes CLT; Alyssa Wilen of Chef Alyssa’s Kitchen; Justin Burke-Samson, pastry chef and writer; and Samantha Allen, owner and chef Wentworth & Fenn. Each course will have a cocktail pairing prepared by Kel Minton of Soul Gastrolounge and Tamu Curtis of  Liberate Your Palate. Tickets are $75. Proceeds benefit the Project 658 culinary program and community feeding project.

(5) April 24-27: Charlotte Wine and Food Weekend

Various locations in and around Charlotte

Josh Bannen Photography

This annual celebration of local food and an incredible selection of wines started as a simple fundraiser in 1989. Since then, this festival has grown and continues to attract winemakers, vintners and oenophiles from around the world. In 2014, Forbes Travel Guide ranked the Charlotte Wine and Food Weekend one of the top five wine and food festivals in the United States. Tickets for vintners dinners, tasting events and grand tastings are on sale now. Events sell out fast, so start making plans today.

(6) April 28, 4-8 p.m.: KellyFest 2019

Bonterra Dining and Wine Room, 1829 Cleveland Ave.

Courtesy of Robert Foley Vineyards
Robert Foley wines will grace the bar at the annual 2019 KellyFest.

This wine-centric afternoon and evening salutes California-based winemaker Robert Foley. Bob crafts wines for his own Robert Foley Vineyards, as well as Switchback Ridge and several others. He and his wife, Kelly, have strong ties to Charlotte and come each year to celebrate friendships food and wine.

On this day after the Charlotte Wine and Food Weekend, The Bob Foley Band entertains while Chef Blake Hartwick and the culinary team at Bonterra Dining and Wine Room serve fried chicken and ‘cue, two of Kelly’s Southern faves. Robert Foley wines are featured at the bar, along with Triple C and OMB brews. Tickets are $125, and reservations are a must. Call Bonterra at 704-333-9463 for details.

(7) April 28, noon-5 p.m.: Asheville’s Carolina Mountain CheeseFest

Highland Brewing, 12 Old Charlotte Highway, Asheville

Courtesy of Looking Glass Creamery
On the WNC Cheese Trail, a wedge of Ridgeline.

Smile and say cheese while supporting North Carolina artisan cheese makers, creameries and dairies. Now in its fifth year, the Carolina Mountain Cheese Fest benefits the WNC Cheese Trail. Meet the makers and the milkers, explore the craft of cheesemaking, sample and buy lots of North Carolina cheeses. Tickets are $14 for general admission at 1 p.m. or $25 for VIP admission at noon. Additionally, you can buy tickets to attend a cheese and cider tasting, a cheese and wine tasting and a cheese and beer tasting.

(8) July 19-28: Charlotte Restaurant Week–Queen’s Feast Summer 2019

Various restaurants in and around the Charlotte metro area

This 10-day stretch is a perfect time for a staycation to enjoy all that is Charlotte Restaurant Week, aka Queen’s Feast. Held each year in the winter and then again in mid-summer, this much-anticipated event features special prix fixe menus from some 150 participating restaurants.

Patrons may order three specially designed courses for $30 or $35 per person. Chefs go all out to showcase what they serve on a daily basis, and the experience gives diners a great way to try new places and revisit old favorites. Details and the list of participating restaurants for the summer Queens Feast should be available in mid to late June.

(9) Sept. 12-15: Asheville’s Chow Chow

Location to be announced

Asheville is a city of fun weekend festivals, so there is always something food and drink centered on tap. In mid-September, enjoy the start of leaf viewing season and plan your fall mountain getaway around the city’s newest food festival, Chow Chow. It will celebrate chefs, makers and culinary collaborators, along with the Appalachian stories and history they share. Look for a wide variety of tasting events, chef demos, artisan craft and hands-on experiences. Plans are still underway, so get yourself on their email newsletter list now.

(10) Sept 19-22: Euphoria Greenville 2019

Various locations in and around Greenville, South Carolina

Courtesy of Euphoria Greenville
These delicious pumpkin brownies by pastry chef Ashley Boyd of 300 East in Charlotte were featured in 2018.

Held in the charming town of Greenville, South Carolina, each September, the vibe at this fall festival is all about food, drink and music. This four-day event includes tastings, intimate musical experiences, cooking demonstrations and wine seminars, as well as multi-course dinners and live music concerts. Many Charlotte-area chefs participate, and while plans for the 2019 festival are still being made, it’s never too early to save the date and make plans. Get on the mailing list, so you’ll be among the first to get details.


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