[image-2] It’s only the second day of fall and Charleston is already gearing up for the March 2020 Wine + Food festival.
Tickets for the 15th annual fest went on sale this August with many selling out in just a few hours. Some of the top chefs that are expected to fire up the grills and stir the pots in the Holy City next spring met in Greenville this past weekend for Euphoria Greenville.
[content-1] The Upstate’s annual food festival is in its 14th year and continues to attract more and more talent from the southeast as the city’s culinary scene expands. While Greenville doesn’t transform quite like Charleston does for Wine + Food — some people around town weren’t even aware that Euphoria was taking place — Euphoria proves that you don’t always need the glitz and glamour to throw a good party.
Opening night at the 2019 Charleston Wine + Food Festival featured the Holy City’s premier chefs but also included some out-of-towners like Greenville’s Lazy Goat. At Euphoria’s Kick-Off Party, the focus was on the local talent with some familiar Lowcountry names in the crowd like Halls, Husk, Basil, and Cantina 76, all of which have locations in Greenville.
The setup was similar to Wine + Food; guests received a glass upon entry to the Old Cigar Warehouse that could be filled with wine, beer, or cocktails at various stations throughout the venue. Just like in Charleston, there were countless restaurants in attendance offering signature selections with highlights like the chicken and waffle donut sando from Farm Fresh Fast’s Jonathon Willis and the bacon wrapped lamb meatloaf from Nose Dive’s Eddie Wiles. So what makes Euphoria a different food fest experience then our home town event?
For starters, the price point. The Kick-Off Party, for example, was just $80, while tickets to the Opening Night for the 2020 Charleston Wine + Food Festival are currently on sale for $150. Saturday’s signature event called Feast by the Field was $90, while a Saturday in the culinary village next March will run you $135.
But beyond the price, Euphoria differentiates itself by providing a slower pace than CHSWFF. Fewer lines meant more time for relaxed conversation and less of the frantic jumping around to avoid missing out on a dish. With venues like the Old Cigar Warehouse, Larkin’s Sawmill, and The Loft at Soby’s, Euphoria maintained the same “cool factor” many are after, and Fluor Field provided a serviceable home base for many of the weekend’s events.
Sorghum & Salt’s chef de cuisine Christian Hunter made the trip to Greenville to participate in the Sunday Brunch and the Taste of the South, which featured 15 regional chefs who each showcased one dish epitomizing their idea of Southern cuisine. Hunter chose to make a Spade & Clover charred shishito pepper dish that was an ideal handheld for multi-tasking guests trying to snap a picture for their Instagram.
“I enjoyed Euphoria’s intimate feel because I had the time to interact with other chefs and guests,” says Hunter. “There was enough going on, and all the chefs were able to develop a camaraderie in between.” Hunter’s favorite dish at Taste of the South was an orzo with crawfish from Terra’s Mike Davis, but Charleston was represented well at the event, as McCrady’s pastry chef Katy Keefe’s dessert was the first to sell out.
Charleston Wine + Food is an annual spectacle unlike many food festivals around the country, and there are some aspects like lines and sold out items that simply come with the territory. Additionally, Charleston is better known as a national food epicenter, compared to Greenville, so a hike in prices is to be expected.
As chef Hunter put it, “Charleston Wine + Food is a big production for the entire region,” so it is definitely a must for food fanatics who live in the south. Still, the days that follow the festival each year are sometimes spent in an exhausted food coma that can be hard to shake. With a more casual feel, Euphoria Greenville provides those in search of a weekend revolving around food a similar experience with a slightly shorter monetary and physical recovery time.