To many, John T. Edge has become something of an icon on the Southern food scene. Known simply as “John T.” to friends and even acquaintances, he is a personality who manages to command respect without demanding reverence. Perhaps it’s because his rise to semi-celebrity status happened quickly. Just 10 years ago, he was simply another graduate student working on a thesis (of course, his happened to be on the quirky food subject of potlikker) — but with the conception of the SFA and his role as its leader he became a pioneer in culinary preservation efforts.

Alongside that work, his journalistic career exploded, landing him writing gigs with Saveur, Food + Wine, The New York Times, and an array of other top publications. Today, he is a contributing editor at Gourmet and the author of several books. A revised and expanded edition of Southern Belly: The Ultimate Food Lover’s Companion to the South will be available this June. At the Charleston Food + Wine Festival, Edge will appear twice. He will be a speaker on a panel discussing “Is there really a Southern cuisine?” (Friday, March 2, 4:15-5:30 p.m.) And he will talk about the fish fry tradition in the South while Chef Drew Robinson fries catfish (Saturday, March 3, 1:45-2:30 p.m.). Read more about the Charleston Food + Wine Fest on p. 38.