Chef Mike Lata said it was the greatest opening night party in six years. I can’t tell you whether I agree or not, because it was the first time I’d attended the Thursday night BB&T Charleston Wine + Food opening party, but I’ll take his word for it. The previous evening, I’d been told by a festival insider that demand for tickets was so high, it was like the Grammys or something.

The tent was spacious, the food that I ate (before quickly getting stuffed) was wonderful, and the wine was solid. I ran into a few folks, including Maverick beverage director Patrick Emerson, who pointed me to the good stuff in the back corner. Over the course of the evening, I kept my glass full with David Arthur Sauvignon Blanc. Thanks for the tip, Patrick.

My first bite came courtesy of Mike Lata of FIG — a hot little fried farro ball with cheese. Hot from the fryer, it burned my mouth, but I didn’t care. It was so good.

  • Mike Lata

Craig Deihl had housemade hotdogs (holy crap) and charcuterie (below).

We chatted with the delightful Julian and Sissy Van Winkle of Pappy Van Winkle fame and Julian promised he’d make us a Julian himself tonight at Husk Bar. We can’t wait for that.

  • The Van Winkles

In the tent lobby, Jamee Haley from Lowcountry Local First was encouraging attendees to take part in the silent auction. She was getting some encouragement from Louis Yuhasz, whose Louie’s Kids charity was the beneficiary last year.

I attended the VIP party beforehand. It was pretty dull. The most exciting part was watching the Travelocity gnome make the rounds.

  • Jessica Rodriguez and Melany Mullens

Donna Lee, from Magical Elves, the production company behind Top Chef, was circulating at the party, trying to put names with faces for casting the next season of the show. We also ran into a couple of former Top Cheftestants, including Brian Voltaggio who was hanging out with Sean Brock.

  • Sean Brock and Brian Voltaggio

VIPs: Nico Romo and Randall Goldman make the rounds.

  • Nico Romo and Patrick Goldman

At least I got to catch up with fellow tweeters/media folks. Jennifer Cole from Southern Living and Ida Becker from Charleston CVB were the highlight of the party for me.

  • Jennifer Cole and Ida Becker

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