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Aug 29, 2008 12:18 PM

Bobby Flay Coming to Charleston's 2009 Food + Wine Festival

This is something that I've been eager to share for a long time, since I figured this is something that a lot of this crowd would be interested in, but I couldn't because it hadn't been announced to the public until last night. Anyway, since my internship with the Festival is over and I'm no longer associated with them, I got the chance to go to the 2009 launch party last night as your standard Charleston resident.

Anyhow, the gist of the evening's major announcement was that Flay is going to be coming to next year's festival with several of the chefs from his NYC restaurants and doing a charity lunch and a demonstration on making gourmet burgers.

The festival has grown a little every year, but I'm hoping as a resident, that luring a huge name like that, along with our three James Beard nominees this year, will help really cement Charleston as one of the major culinary places to be.

- DH - One Charleston College Student's Guide to Food and Film

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  1. How healthy are Charleston's best restaurants, I wonder? We were there last March, and there was buzz that some highly-esteemed places might be in trouble financially. It's a shame, that the sheer competitiveness of the scene should endanger a few great restaurants. But that's how it goes, I guess.

    Charleston has an unholy good restaurant scene, I think, almost unique, given the nature of the place. I'm not sure if Bobby Flay is an appropriate stimulus for it, if even for a day or so. Gourmet burgers and fast food foie gras, 2 things that don't quite make sense. Next they'll put an Applebee's in the historic district.

    We are constantly bemoaning the lack of a great food scene in our area. I wish to heck we could have just a few of Charleston's best, regardless of price and concept.

    Who were the Beard award nominees?

    2 Replies
    1. re: uptown jimmy

      He he, we did have an Applebee's in the historic district for awhile. It got replaced by a Noisy Oyster, somewhat of an upgrade I guess. At least NO is local.

      From what I understand Bobby Flay is a big fan of Charleston's food scene, but I get what you mean about him. FWIW, I've not been the biggest fan of the Festival--to date it has seemed too intent on proving it's "world class" while charging an arm and a leg for events, including mere access to the culinary village, while providing little in the way of information about what's actually going on at any given hour in said village. The result is that attendees seemed to be quite affluent but not necessarily knowledgable. The one event I went to last year was the BBQ get together. It was expensive (though reasonable by Festival standards) but did feature some great pitmasters. Unfortuntately, most of the attendees seemed to have little idea who any of the pig roasters were, so they just lined up like obligatory lemmings, hitting one booth after another in sequence, while I was running around with a mental list of whose 'cue I wanted to sample and in what order. Maybe I'm coming across as a food snob here, but I just don't understand paying good money without knowing/caring what you are paying for.

      As an aside, the whole "Wine" portion of the Charleston Food and Wine Festival bugs me a bit, too. We have one local winery in the area (and in the state last I heard). Wine is not exactly a strong point of Low Country cuisine. But I guess we have to make wine a part of the festival if we are to compete with the big boys.

      Sorry if I'm sounding grumpy here, but the festival has bugged me since it started. I hope eventually they take a cue from Spoleto and expand the festival (a la Piccolo Spoleto) so that it's more accessible to the general population, not just the South of Broad crowd and rich tourists.

      1. re: Low Country Jon

        I agree with you Jon in that I wish it was more open to less affluent masses. I'm a college student and even though I worked at the festival, I can't afford to really go to any of the events.

        The one thing you've got to keep in mind, though, is that unlike some of the other food and wine festivals out there, Charleston's is a non-profit (any revenue above cost goes to charity, scholarships, etc.) and like any other non-profit is in a constant state of fundraising and grant-writing just to cover expenses, so it's not like anyone is making a bunch of money off of it. I wish they'd publicize that fact more though, because I don't know if most people really realize that.

        Bobby is definitely a really good chef, but obviously the main reason they wanted him was because he's a good draw. I'd be much more upset if they had brought in someone like Rachel Ray or Paula Deen, who really aren't "chefs" at all. Interestingly enough, one of my jobs this summer was to go through all of the responses to the the survey the festival sent out after last years festival, and Paula Deen was the top choice for who people wanted to see come this year, but she wanted WAY more money than anyone else to come (which in my opinion is a good thing, because I would have no interest in seeing her)...

        Also, jimmy, the three nominees were Sean Brock from McCrady's (Rising Star Chef of the Year), Mike Lata from FIG (Best Chef Southeast), and Robert Stehling from Hominy Grill (won the Beard Award for Best Chef Southeast)...

        - DH - One Charleston College Student's Guide to Food and Film