Euphoria wades into kiddie pool with new festival event

The farm-to-table Sunday Supper at Wyche Pavillion at an earlier edition of Euphoria (Lynn Seldon)

If there was any question regarding the intended audience for the Charleston Wine + Food Festival, the event’s kickoff party this weekend put it to rest: “Let’s get boozy!” promotional materials urged.

Children are decidedly not welcome at the majority of food festivals, which are structured as sophisticated explorations of the contemporary culinary scene, meaning beer, wine and liquor are constants. But Euphoria, this month celebrating its tenth anniversary as Greenville’s signature food festival, is bucking tradition by adding a child-centric program to its schedule.

At “Kids in the Kitchen: Healthy Lunchtime Throwdown,” children from area schools will compete to create a recipe for Greenville County School cafeterias. The program was modeled after the White House’s Kids State Dinner.

“I’ve looked into it quite a bit, and the only big food and wine festival I have found that includes family programming is Hawaii,” says Euphoria director Brianna Shaw. “Which I think is funny, because it’s not like we’re neighbors.”

Each of the four students, selected through a months-long tournament, will be assisted by a professional chef.

“We have this amazing lineup of chefs,” Shaw says of Bayou Bakery’s David Guas; Momofuku’s Sean Gray; Manresa’s David Kinch and Grace’s Curtis Duffy. The latter three chefs have received Michelin stars. “We joked about them judging, and they all wanted to cook with the kids. They’re all dads. They’re thrilled to be participating.”

Euphoria has a long history of including young eaters on Sunday mornings, when older participants are sleeping off Saturday night’s festivities. The festival’s jazz brunch has always been pitched as “family-friendly.” Part of the friendliness, Shaw says, is the cost: Brunch is priced at $45 a person. The new Lunchtime Throwdown is free.

By contrast, the fee for the Saturday dinner featuring Gray, Kinch and Duffy is $350.

“At that price point, people are looking for it to be adult-only experience,” Shaw says, confirming that diners don’t have to worry about having their meals and wine tastings disrupted by screaming kids.

In addition to offering free admission to the Lunchtime Throwdown, Euphoria is setting up tables, chairs and a stage in the street so community members can experience a portion of the program without paying. The festival is also hosting a pair of free al fresco exercise classes.

“We wanted to kind of extend the olive branch and show what we’re about,” Shaw says.

For the 21-and-over crowd, Euphoria begins Thursday night with Lambs & Clams and a songwriters’ roundtable; the festival runs through Sunday night. For more information, visit euphoriagreenville.com.