A mob of chefs paraded through the streets of downtown Charleston this morning to kick off the 2010 BB&T Charleston WIne + Food Festival. Maybe parade is too strong a word. Chefs gathered, milled about, filed onto the risers, and were applauded by the gathered crowd.

A nice touch was the vibe provided by a group of local boys, who pounded out some amazing rhythms on garbage cans and overturned buckets, Stomp-style.

Mayor Riley spoke about what a great festival it is, blah blah blah. Love Mayor Riley but his speeches are always so dull. W+F Chair Richard Widman said some words, as did the BB&T banker who supports the festival with a major sponsorship deal.

Then, some nice awards were handed out. Mickey Bakst of Charleston Grill was given the Laura Hewitt Legend Award. A fitting tribute to the host with the most. Not only is he a remarkable front man, but Mickey directs a great deal of his energy towards charity, raising tons of money and organizing efforts like Charleston Chefs Feed the Need. Kudos to him.

A new award this year was given to and named for Chef Marc Collins, the guy who came up with the idea of starting the W+F festival. He seemed genuinely touched.

Then, the sabers were drawn and the corks were sliced off by Charleston’s favorite sommeliers, including Patrick Emerson, Clint Sloan, and Brad Ball.

Overall, it was a nice kick-off to the festival as it brought as many chefs as possible together for a group hug, providing endless photo ops for yours truly.

Check out all our pictures here.