Charleston has had plenty of buzz over the last year. Landing on several Best City lists and hosting this season of Top Chef, the town has become a top choice for those looking for food-fueled fun. February and March—the end of low season in Charleston— are actually some of the best times to be there for food-lovers. While the largest and flashiest culinary event is Charleston Food + Wine, a non-profit, multi-day event that benefits local food initiatives and showcases the talent of chefs and bartenders from around the globe, there are lots of other delicious reasons to get yourself to the Charleston area during this two-month stretch.
1. The Southeastern Wildlife Exposition February 17-19
This is the largest wildlife event in the nation and draws artists and nature enthusiasts from around the world for three full days of fine art, exhibits, VIP parties, educational programs and seminars. There’s also a lot for food-lovers to enjoy, including chef tasting parties, demos hosted by culinary stars, and an official oyster roast party. Unlike a lot of food events, this one offers the unique aspect of wild game hunting expertise and even events like the Cast Net Demo, where local professional anglers display and teach perfect throwing techniques. It’s a chance to truly connect with your food via nature-to-table adventures.
2. The Brazil Bash at Mex 1 Coastal Cantina Feb 25
This restaurant is famous for incredible tacos and spicy, refreshing margaritas, and it's also known for throwing incredible parties. If you missed the weekend when the staff filled the parking lot with fake snow and held a snowboard competition, you still have time to attend the annual Brazil Bash. It’s a fundraiser for a local Capoeira group and takes place on Feb. 25 from 6pm to closing. “We move a bunch of tables out of the restaurant, and they set up their Brazilian band inside and then showcase Capoeira and Maculele, which is Brazilian dance fighting,” says Morgan Hurley, beverage director. “There are Samba girls in full outfits and a huge drum dance. It really turns into a fun party.”
3. Charleston Wine + Food March 1-5
This extravaganza involves more than 100 unique food events. Founded in 2006, the festival operates as a non-profit and has donated more than $355,000 to the food industry. This year, you can enjoy options like live-fire cooking displays held beneath the Spanish Moss at the Ashes at Runnymede Plantation, but you can also opt to get your own hands messy. The Spectator is one of the city’s newest hotel properties, and this year, barman Allen Lancaster will host a Coffee Cocktails Seminar where he’ll teach a fun crash-course on making your own coffee liqueur. Relax afterwards by sipping his The Dude Imbibes drink with Chai-Vanilla Cathead Vodka, Carolina Cream Liqueur, almond milk and an Espresso St George Coffee Liqueur Ice Cube.
4. Family Chicken Dinner Night at Harold’s Cabin Every Sunday
If you’ve got the whole family with you, head to Harold’s Cabin on Sunday nights between 6:30 and close. The team just launched Family Chicken Dinner night, and it comes with a bonus. Each evening, as you dig into that week’s chicken dish (past iterations have been Chicken Pot Pie, Chicken & Dumplings and roasted half chickens), you'll also enjoy the sounds of musician Richard Andre Blakeney. He refers to his music as #GospelofChicken on social media, and it’s a mix of blues and hearty, soulful hymnals, plus opera. It’s an event for the ears as much as the tastebuds, set in a cozy, cabin-style space.
5. Cooking Classes at Zero Restaurant + Bar February & March
Zero George Street is a boutique hotel set inside three lavish Charleston homes and two carriage houses, all built in 1804 and connected by a central courtyard. It was named the "Top 5 Foodie Hotel in the World" by Condé Nast Traveler, thanks to Zero Restaurant. You enter at reception, where the front desk is flanked by a completely open kitchen. It’s a live show of chef Vinson Petrillo (pictured above) preparing incredible tasting menus nightly. Zero George Street is a bucket-list-worthy spot where you can sharpen your own culinary skills via the rotating eight-person cooking classes, which happen twice weekly on Monday and Saturday. They each include three courses with paired wines for $150. This March on a still-to-be-decided date, local author Jess Murnane will host a class and dinner, showcasing the recipes from her brand new cookbook, One Part Plant. Petrillo is the only Charleston chef featured in the book; keep your eyes open for more event details.
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