There’s one non negotiable when it comes to making flavor-forward food. It holds true for anyone who’s ever stood in front of a stove, from home cooks to James Beard nominated chefs: Before you light up that bottom left burner, you gotta have a good soundtrack.
“Music, food, and wine are three of the most heroic things in life and we should celebrate them together more,” says Pass the Peas organizer Leigh-Ann Beverley. Whether that music is Echo playing Maggie Rogers on repeat or, for Obstinate Daughter chef Jacques Larson, Ranky Tanky, more often than not it’s the tunes that make the meal. “Pass the Peas, at the core of it, it’s a celebration of the magic that happens when like minds break bread over music and food.”
Beverley has been curating High Water’s culinary ‘experience’ for the past three years. This weekend’s event, as in years past, will take place Sat. and Sun. morning at Riverfront Park before the first act takes the High Water stage. Saturday’s brunch features chefs Larson (Wild Olive, Obstinate Daughter) and Shuai Wang (Short Grain, soon-to-open Jackrabbit Filly), as well as mixologist Craig Nelson (Proof) and sommelier Cappie Peete.
“All of these chefs like to color outside the lines,” says Beverley. “They’ve cooked together before… it’s insane,” she says of the Larson/Wang duo.
Sunday’s lineup includes chefs Jill Matthias (Chez Nous) and Evan Gaudreau (Renzo) with sommelier Femi Oyediran and Nelson providing the booze.
Beverley, who worked in the wine world for nearly a decade, is particularly excited about having friends Peete and Oyediran curate the vino selections both days; 2015 Eater Young Gun semifinalist Peete is currently the beverage director for Ashley Christensen restaurants and Oyediran, co-owner of Graft Wine Shop, was recently named one of Food & Wine magazine’s top sommeliers 2019.
“I actually met Femi DJing 10 years ago,” says Beverley. “He’s a great DJ. Everyone that we’ve wrangled is literally a huge music fan and that to me creates an insane energy — everyone is amped. It’s serious joy.” [content-5] Both days, the brunch begins with passed apps and an intro cocktail from Nelson. Then there are multiple, family-style courses paired with wine. Beverley says the last course features a cocktail with Bootlegger coffee, so you can re-fuel for the fest. She notes that if you want a beer, you can certainly get one, but “if you like liquor and wine, you’re golden.”
[image-2] Some menu highlights from Saturday include ‘snack’s like deviled eggs with cold smoked trout; risotto with cream of mushroom, spring peas, smoked ham dashi, and parmesan; and miso maple-glazed Holy City Hog ham. Sunday there’s a warm potato ensalata with rouille, octopus, and pimenton; whole roasted Abundant Seafood snapper with salsa verde; and tempura fried Spade and Clover fava shoots.
“We’re trying to be as local as we can,” Beverley says of their vendors. Nelson’s cocktails will feature Hat Trick gin and Virgil Kaine bourbon and Ambrose Farms’ famously beautiful strawberries will make an appearance during the dessert course.
There will also be a DJ spinning vinyl both days (duh) as well as flower crowns from Moonlight Iris Designs. Beverley, who has worked music fests as big as Bonnaroo, says she put a bug in the ear of AC Entertainment (who now puts on High Water) way back in 2011, letting them know about this sweet little spot called Charleston.
What HWF is doing with Pass the Peas is different than most festivals, Beverley says. “I don’t know that someone is putting James Beard talent in intimate places.”
“I will say, unique to this event, whether it’s someone who lives here or traveled form the Southeast or Germany, I feel like the chefs and all of us have a very clear focus on making this one of the most exciting culinary experiences in Charleston every year,” she says.
A portion of proceeds from Pass the Peas goes to The Green Heart Project, a local nonprofit that creates school garden programs to help foster community through “growing, eating, and celebrating food.”
A limited number of tickets are still available. If you’re on the fence, consider that, in addition to the killer food, cocktails, wine, music, and Instagram Holy Grail photos, there will also be a feeling, Beverley promises, that can’t be recreated anywhere else. “Honestly, the energy under the tent — if we could bottle it, we would all live forever.”