The BB&T Charleston Wine + Food Festival is mere weeks away, and the staff over there is busy making final preparations and dealing with some last-minute schedule changes. The biggest headache this year has been the 6 Top Chefs Challenge, a cooking event slated to take place under the big tents at Marion Square on Fri. March 4.
According to Erika McMillan at W+F, the Top Chef: All Stars reunion show will be shooting on the same day, causing their original emcee and season seven representative Tiffany Derry to drop out. They also lost Carla Hall from season five and Casey Thompson from season three. It took some doing, but they were able to find replacements and still have each season represented. The current lineup is Marisa Churchill (season two), Ariane Duarte (five), Kevin Gillespie (six), Brian Malarkey (three), Dave Martin (one), Ryan Scott (four), and Kenny Gilbert (seven), who will also emcee the event.
Elsewhere on the schedule, we heard about a change that should chap some hides. Michael White of Marea in New York City was part of the superstar lineup of guest chefs at FIG's Dine Around on Friday night. As he did last year when he was supposed to cook with Ken Vedrinski, White pulled out. But FIG diners have nothing to worry about. Chef Mike Lata will be joined by Frank Stitt of Bottega and Highlands Bar & Grill in Birmingham, Ala., and Kevin Gillespie from Woodfire Grill in Atlanta, both of whom were in the original lineup. Steven Satterfield of Miller Union in Atlanta will replace White.
If you haven't made your festival plans, there are still tickets left to plenty of events. Of the Dine Arounds on Friday night with availability, there's a Guerrilla Cuisine dinner with Chef Kevin Johnson. This is the first time GC will be an official part of the festival, and you can expect them to do it up right. There are also tickets to the Hominy Grill dinner, which will feature the Malaysian-inspired cuisine of Zac Pelaccio of Fatty Crab, Fatty Cue, and Cabrito in NYC.
Other hot tickets include the Big Bottles Tasting and Tour with Andrea Immer Robinson on Saturday. They tell us that's a must for wine lovers.
A new event this year is the Locavore Luncheon at High Cotton on the afternoon of Thurs. March 3. It's pricey and you'll need to take the afternoon off work, but if you're a food and beverage worker who doesn't get to experience much besides the hard work and the late-night afterparties, this might be a good choice. There's also Winemaker Luncheons at Halls Chophouse and 82 Queen on Thursday and a Sake Lunch at O-Ku on Friday.
The charity auction went live last week, and this year's beneficiary is Lowcountry Local First, an organization that's near and dear to our hearts. Go to charlestonwineandfood.com and you can bid on everything from Abundant Seafood's catch of the day to an extravagant party on the Crosby's dock on Folly.
And if you're flat broke and have no money for tickets or auctions or even a dinner out for that matter, then head to Facebook, become a fan of Mr. Lexus Chance, and find out how to win free tickets. They'll be giving away a pair each week between now and the festival.
So there you have it. A W+F festival update in 300 words or less.