Stretching from coast to coast, the guest list for the BB&T Charleston Food + Wine Festival is better than ever, says Executive Director Angel Postell.
Headliners for the 2008 festival, to be held Feb. 29-March 2, include chefs such as Suzanne Goin of the acclaimed Lucques restaurant in West Hollywood, Calif., and David Chang of Momofuku restaurants in New York City. Chang, who's been branded a "culinary rebel," made the "noodle bar" and its innovative food the rage of New York and beyond.
Closer to home are Hugh Acheson of the Five & Ten in Athens, Ga., Chris Hastings of the Hot and Hot Fish Club in Birmingham, Ala., and Scott Crawford of The Cloister in Sea Island, Ga., former chef at The Woodlands in Summerville. Louis Osteen will return for his third year, fresh from exporting his "Fish Camp" concept from Pawleys Island to a new restaurant in Las Vegas.
Dessert lovers may be sweet on pastry chef Gale Gand of Tru restaurant in Chicago, author of "Chocolate and Vanilla" and star of the Food Network series "Sweet Dreams," or pastry chef Michael Laiskonis of Le Bernardin in New York.
Ruth Reichl, editor in chief of Gourmet magazine and a former New York Times restaurant critic, leads a group of national authors who will participate in the festival. They include Bruce Aidells, founder of Aidells Sausage Co. and author of 11 cookbooks, and Marvin Woods, star of the popular "Home Plate" cooking show on Turner South and former executive chef of Anson restaurant at the
Getting master winemaker Doug Shafer of Shafer Vineyards in Napa Valley to come to the festival is "a big deal," Postell says. Suzanne Hagins, owner and winemaker at Lutea in Santa Rosa, Calif., is a South Carolina native and former Charleston resident.
Lutea makes organically grown Pinot Noir.
In all, the list features 21 guest chefs and pastry chefs, 21 wine professionals and 15 authors.
"I think the local chefs did an outstanding job of reaching out to their colleagues around the country," Postell says. "Almost all of these are James Beard winners."
Postell adds, "We don't have a Tyler Florence-type from the Food Network, but that's not our goal. I think the people we have coming in are our best lineup yet. I think any foodie would recognize them."
Postell says there was a lot of collaboration on the guest list. For example, wine directors from participating local restaurants gave organizers a list of whom they wanted to have here.
"We were able to get that feedback. A lot of these wines are those you will find in restaurants here," Postell says.
Meanwhile, tickets sales are "going really, really well, about triple compared to where we were last year," she says.
Some of the Dine-Around events have sold out, including those at Charleston Grill, Peninsula Grill, High Cotton and Oak Steakhouse. Others are close to that point, Postell says.
The complete list of guest chefs, wine professionals and authors and other information can be found on the Web site, charlestonfoodandwine.com.
More than 50 events are planned throughout the weekend. Highlights include the Celebration of Charleston Chefs Opening Night Party, Restaurant Dine-Around, Bubbles & Sweets, King Street Sip & Stroll, Lowcountry Gospel Brunch, and the BBQ, Blues & Brew.
An expanded Culinary Village takes over Marion Square in downtown Charleston with two Grand Tasting Tents, culinary competitions, cooking demonstrations and chef tastings.