Hillsborough, N.C. chef Bert Hamilton serves up pozole with braised pork | Photos by Samantha Connors

Charleston Wine + Food’s (W+F) Culinary Village kicked off today in Riverfront Park with a ribbon cutting ceremony. North Charleston Mayor Keith Summey cut the ribbon with a knife crafted by Charleston artisan Quintin Middleton, officially welcoming guests into the event. 

As guests entered the village, they grabbed custom W+F wine glasses, which were instantly filled with Champagnes and wines by attending sommeliers and winemakers.

Others sought out the beer garden to sip refreshing beers from local breweries, including Palmetto Brewery and Commonhouse Aleworks as well as visiting breweries like Charlotte’s Sycamore Brewing and Rock Hill’s Legal Remedy Brewing.

Buckets of oysters were available for guests to shuck and eat

The village itself is split into four “neighborhoods,” each offering a sampling of different cuisine. In “Shucktown,” hungry attendees shucked buckets of oysters and tasted seafood dishes including ceviches and shrimp and grits.

Swordfish ceviche from Ritual
Creole shrimp and grits from Hamby Catering

Barbecue and live-fire cooking stole the show in the “Grillin’ and Chillin’” neighborhood with chefs dishing out smoked meats in a variety of presentations from brisket to pozole. 

Guests flocked to the many barbecue offerings in the “Grillin’ and Chillin'” neighborhood

The Farm Fresh neighborhood welcomed South Carolina farmers and producers, who offered guests samples of grits, home-made ice cream, sauces and more. In the “Street Eats” neighborhood, guests sampled a wider variety of cuisines from different regions. 

South Carolina-produced items are available in the Farmstand tent
Farmers Market Flavors Ice Creams incorporates fresh fruit into this strawberry ice cream

Aside from chowing down on the many tasty bites, festival goers also enjoyed chef demos at stages and tents, music by a live DJ and fun party favors like Don Julio’s custom embroidered bandanas and Maker’s Mark leather keychains hand pressed with individuals’ initials. 

Cory O’Connor, the Chef Tournant of the Villa Resort at Kiawah Island Golf Resort, served short rib rillettes with bone marrow aioli

All in all, day one of the Culinary Village was a success with smiling faces all around and laughter ringing out across the park as people indulged in favorite dishes and new cuisines. — Samantha Connors

Ma’am Saab has soft opening during Thursday dinner

An overview of the new restaurant

Fifty lucky diners got a special Charleston Wine + Food treat Thursday night — they discovered their signature dinner was a soft opening for a new location for Ma’am Saab, the aromatic Pakistani pop-up that developed a loyal following during the pandemic. Chef Maryam Ghaznavi and husband Raheel Gauba say they expect to open full-time in evenings next month, a move that augments their popular Malika Pakistani Chai Canteen in Mount Pleasant.

Lamb and chicken kebabs
Four stars of Thursday’s dinner from right to left: Drinkmaster Raj Shukla, Ma’am Saab co-owner Raheel Gauba, Ma’am Saab Chef Maryam Ghaznavi, and Asheville Chef Meherwan Irani

Thursday’s themed dinner offered road food treats and dishes found along the Grand Trunk Road that stretches from Afghanistan through India. Ghaznavi shared richly spiced Pakistani dishes while award-winning guest chef Meherwan Irani of Asheville’s Chai Pani cooked tasty Indian treats as part of a four-course meal. Celebrity bartender Raj Shukla, an Indiana resident who appeared on Netflix’s Drinkmasters show, prepared gin-based drinks with a flair. — Andy Brack

A sampling of Indian and Pakistani street food that guests enjoyed
Raj Shukla shakes mixed gin-based drinks that complemented the four-course meal
Ma’am Saab Raheel Gauba talks with guests during the Charleston Wine + Food event on March 2

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