Two symbols epitomized this year's Charleston Wine + Food Festival — the X and the hashtag. Giant X's, a symbol of the tenth anniversary of the culinary event, were all over the Lowcountry this weekend. Fashioned from every material imaginable, the letters marked the entrances to all the wine and food happenings.
On Twitter, the #chswff hashtag filled feeds all weekend long. Attendees and participants posted selfies, food porn, chef sightings, and gripes about the weather. The constant barrage of tweets catapulted the hashtag to trend on a national level.
Here's a summary of what we saw at the festival.
• The Opening Night Gala brought together Charleston's finest chefs for a salute to the legendary Charleston Receipts cookbook. Sean Brock foamed celeriac for his scallops, Jason Stanhope jiggled rabbit "Jell-O" for his terrine, and Michelle Weaver got into the spirit of the X.
• On Thursday evening, festival-goers braved the rain to chow down in the Royal American parking lot for Cross Culture BBQ. A few patron tried to stay dry, but for the most part, everyone gave up on the umbrellas and ponchos in favor of grabbing bits of roasted meats. We heard one attendee mutter, "This weather sucks," but was quickly quieted with a bite of brisket.
• The weather didn't keep many ticket holders away, but it did stop a few culinary stars from making it to Charleston on Thursday. Among the many stuck up north, due to snow, were Pok Pok's Andy Ricker, Prune's Gabrielle Hamilton, Bon Appétit editor Andrew Knowlton, and famed mixologist Jim Meehan. Many were able to get out the next day.
• Robert Dickson, The Singing Chef, gave an impromptu performance of "Food, Glorious Food" at the Throwback event.
• Top Chef winner Kristen Kish, bourbon baron Julian Van Winkle, and
King Cocktail Dale DeGroff* made appearances at the Billy Reid-hosted after-party. Oh, and local reality show guy Shep Rose was there too. [*Update: Just a rumor.]
• Mayor Joe Riley declared Friday's weather as "invigorating." To officially kick off the festival, a group sabered multiple champagne bottles to "toast the decade."
• The line was out of the tent for Sean Brock's book signing.
• There was a ball pit.
• FIG/The Ordinary chef Mike Lata hosted a backyard fish fry, and owner of Grassroots Wine Harry Root told the tale of how he and Lata became besties on a trip to Italy. Wine might have been involved.
• Attendees at Pecha Kucha were rather excited to see emcee Brooks Reitz strip down his wardrobe between presentations (he ended the night in a pajama onesie).
• Dresses made of Skittles, conversation hearts, coconuts, and plastic straws appeared at Pop Chic!
• Atlanta chef Chris Hall took home the title of Master Blaster for the 2015 Waffle House Smackdown. Judge Mike Lata called the competition the most difficult on the food circuit.
• These ladies rocked the Betty Brunch.
• Once the weather warmed, everyone wanted to hang in the Rosé Garden or play Jenga in the Beer Garden.
• Sommeliers sampled a 150-year-old wine bottle found at the bottom of the ocean — it tasted like sea water with hints of gasoline.
• And Eater took to Snapchat to cover the rest.