This past weekend, the SFA celebrated its ninth annual Taste of the South weekend in conjunction with Blackberry Farm in Walland, Tennessee.
Highlights of the weekend included:
* For his Southern cuisine, which is informed by history but not afraid to break new ground, Chef Sean Brock of Husk and McCrady's in Charleston, South Carolina, was inducted as the newest member of the Fellowship of Southern Farmers, Artisans, and Chefs.
*Jamey Whetstone of Whetstone Wine Cellars in Napa, California, poured his best bottles all weekend long.
* Blackberry Farm chef Joseph Lenn orchestrated not one but FOUR separate supper menus on Friday night: one to showcase artisan ingredients and three others to complement whiskey, wine, or beer pairings.
* Saturday lunch, prepared by Ashley Christensen, Karen Barker, Betsy Hitt, Vivian Howard, Cassidee Dabney (executive sous chef of Blackberry Farm), and Krissy Blauvelt (Blackberry Farm head baker) paid homage to the SFA's 2013 programming theme: "Women, Work, and Food."
* Guest chefs Vivian Howard, Tyler Brown, and Mike Lata prepared a knockout supper on Saturday night.
* Speaking of knockouts, "Natureboy" Ric Flair, 16-time World Champion and one of Sean Brock's idols, made a surprise appearance. Though Flair didn't put anyone in his signature Figure Four lock, many guests took to the ring (which had been specially constructed for the event by the Blackberry Farm staff) to show off their WWE moves.
* Adventurous guests participated in a scavenger hunt led by the Fellows, which included a crash-course in whiskey tasting and a quiz on identifying heirloom vegetables in the garden.
* Patterson Hood of the Drive-By Truckers played a Friday-night concert for the guests, including his number-one fan, Sean Brock.
* The Taste of the South auction, emceed as always by SFA member Mike "Rathead" Riley, was an overwhelming success. It raised more than $165,000 in operating funds for the SFA, a Taste of the South record.