Corrie and Shuai Wang kicked off their speech with a knock-knock joke. Who's there? "Short Grain Motherfuckers!"
I confess, in my younger, sassier days, I lived for tweeting snarky comments at Pecha Kucha. The chance to subtweet was just too alluring. Forgive me Charleston, I knew not what I did. (...in my defense, however, some of those 140 character critiques were warranted. You know who you are.)
That said, at last night's Charleston Wine + Food Pecha Kucha, there was no need to break out the biting banter. Each of the eight speakers were competent and then some. I could give you a play-by-play, but nothing beats the real thing, so instead here are six key things I learned watching some of the city's most influential food-focused citizens.
1) Carrie Morey of Callie’s Charleston Biscuits has turned down business opportunities in order to put her family first. Think about that. The biscuit maven, who has three restaurants, a cookbook, and has rocked the Home Shopping Network, could probably be serving ham biscuits at Mar-a-Lago for all I know, but no. She's said no because family is everything. And according to her lines on King Street, that M.O. doesn't seem to be hurting her bottom line.
2) The host of the Southern Fork podcast, Stephanie Burt, is concerned that we have lost the art of conversation over food. And she's right. Sure we're all talking a lot about food — ad nauseam even. But when's the last time you had a phone-free meal? A dinner that didn't involve instagramming your poke? If food is supposed to bring us together, is our need to share our food moments tearing us apart?
3) I want some of Corrie & Shuai Wang's magic fairy dust. Call it karma or the fact that good things happen to good people, but these two — what with a James Beard longlist nod for Shuai and a new book release for Corrie — seem to have the Midas touch. I'd give 'em a hard time if they weren't so damn deserving.
4) Weston Fennell, the guy behind seemingly everything at Limehouse Produce, is a logistics madman. If you're dining in Charleston and wondering about the journey the asparagus or peaches on your plate took to get there, it likely involved Fennell on a phone call with someone, probably at 3 in the morning.
5) Ben Towill, the owner of NYC's The Fat Radish, is opening a Charleston restaurant called Basic Kitchen. That is all I know right now, but by God Imma find out more.
6) Finally, Germaine Jenkins, the woman behind North Charleston's Fresh Future Farm, is incredible and deserves everyone's attention and respect. Her efforts have not only brought an urban farm to a food desert, but she's also creating jobs and fostering community. Suffice it to say, she's a maverick and I mean that in an entirely pre-Sarah Palin sense of the word.
So there you have it. It was a great, snark-free night. I had a blast. I learned a lot, oh and I'd be remiss if I didn't recognize MC Chris Winn of Tradesman Brewing Co. Winn brought the right enthusiasm and kept the audience engaged and entertained. Well played, sir.