Chapel Hill, N.C. — The extraordinary collaborative meals presented by some of the best chefs in the South, and the thought provoking discussions lead by artisans and sustainable food advocates, often leave fans of the TerraVita Food and Drink Festival wishing they could stay for just a little bit more culinary magic. This year, they can.
For its sixth annual festival, organizers are opening formerly closed doors with public "after parties" that give lucky ticket holders a chance to rub elbows with trendsetters whose work is changing the way people outside of the South view our gastronomic achievements. It's a chance to connect with thought leaders who will participate in two days of Sustainable Classroom sessions, chat with chefs and producers who mindfully usher ingredients from farm to table, and make lasting connections with others who feel passionately about our Southern foodways.
"The events each have their own vibe with great food and drink," says TerraVita founder Colleen Minton. "The after parties we held in the past were small, private gatherings for participants. We're happy to open it up this year so more people can enjoy the experience. They offer a great chance to engage the chefs, distillers, producers, writers, and all-around movers and shakers in a relaxed, low-key environment."
For example, the day need not end with Thursday's traditional Carolina Table: East Meets West Dinner (now sold out). Stars will continue to shine as the evening shifts to Lambs & Clams After Party mode at Weathervane at Southern Season (9-11 p.m., $55). This bash is perfect for so many of us wannabes unable to make the annual pilgrimage to Lambstock, Craig Rogers' celebration of all things lamb for industry insiders at Border Springs Farm in Virginia. For this after party, Lambstock's legendary Lambs & Clams feast, a partnership with Travis Croxton of Rappahanock Oysters, will be recreated with several major players in Southern food and drink.
Among those joining Rogers and Murphy will be Brandon Carter of the soon-to-open FARM Restaurant in Bluffton, SC; Kyle McKnight of Highland Avenue in Hickory (recently named one of the South's best restaurants by Southern Living); Josh Munchel from Counting House in Durham; and Jay Pierce of the Marshall Free House in Greensboro. Beverage options will be provided by Cathead Distillery in Mississippi, Crude Bitters & Soda of Raleigh, Fullsteam Brewery of Durham and Mystery Brewing of Hillsborough, wines from Piedmont Wine Imports of Durham and the fledgling End of the Vine of Chapel Hill, as well as coffee from Winston-Salem's Krankies.
Following Friday's first day of Sustainable Classroom sessions, TerraVita introduces a new dinner event: HILL FIRE: Pits, Spits & Grills (5:30-8:30 p.m., $75). The Carrboro Town Commons will become a pitmasters haven as celebrated Southern chefs grill everything from pig to seafood and vegetarian options. The truly all-star lineup includes: Jason Stanhope (2015 James Beard "Best Chef - Southeast") of FIG in Charleston; Ashley Christensen (2014 James Beard "Best Chef - Southeast") of AC Restaurants in Raleigh; Sam Jones of Skylight Inn of Ayden; Joe Sparatta of Heritage and Southbound in Richmond; Clay Trainum of Autumn Olive Farms in Virginia's Shenandoah Valley; Wyatt Dickson of Pig Whistle and, with partner Ben Adams of the soon-to-open Picnic in Durham; among others. Cary baker Norma Kessler of Sweet Arielle and Deric McGuffey from G2B in Durham will be providing signature desserts.
The Film and Fare After Party (9-11 p.m., $40) will follow at TOPO Distillery. The highlight of the event will be screening of special footage from Original Fare, a PBS series in which globetrotting host Kelly Cox searches "for the best ingredients on earth." The third season of the food and travel program recently launched on PBS stations nationwide. Nibbles will be provided by two great talents based in Cary: Lionel Vatinet of La Farm Bakery and Steven Deveraux Greene of Herons at The Umstead Hotel & Spa, each of whom will incorporate Raleigh's Videri Chocolate and Sunburst Trout from Canton, North Carolina, in their creations. Drink options include craft beer from Cameron Read of Edmond's Oast in Charleston and cocktails byTOPO Organic Spirits and Asheville Distilling Company.
Tickets for these and all other TerraVita events are available online at TerraVitaevent.com.
WRAL's Out and About is a sponsor of TerraVita.