Music City Magic at Nashville Food and Wine Festival


Cooking is like love, it should be entered into with abandon        or not at all.  

-Harriet Van Horne


Music and food have always possessed the remarkable ability to take us back to a certain time or place. A single line of a love song from our youth can give us a rush of emotions. In much the same way, the smell of cornbread baking in your grandmother’s cast iron skillet can bring a wave of nostalgia so strong you’d swear it’s almost a religious experience.

So it is no surprise that two days of incredible music and food held in the beautiful city of Nashville, TN, made for a very cool weekend. Add the fact that the founders of the Music City Food and Wine Festival, the southern rock band Kings of Leon and world-renowned chef Jonathan Waxman, brought together not only the best chefs in the Southern culinary scene right now but also a superstar lineup of musicians who paid homage to country music’s classics at the Harvest Night celebration. The harmony of the two sent foodies and music lovers like myself over the top.

The two-day festival was held in Nashville, the city that has historically gained its reputation by being the Mecca of country music.  But what really makes Nashville the perfect backdrop for this festival is the reinvention of the city’s culinary scene. The city was featured by Food & Wine magazine recently for its “booming Music City food scene,” and is attracting a breed of young chefs who are breathing life into a tired food scene.  Their energy compliments the established chefs who are preserving their deep-rooted culinary heritage while embracing new culinary trends.

The mutual admiration between the culinary and music worlds was evident over the course of the festival. Panels of chefs shared their love of music and the role it plays in their creativity. The musicians returned the love by showing their support for the culinary arts.  You can get the impressive line-up of chefs and musicians at MCFW 2014 here.

The passion of which Van Horne spoke in the quote above was apparent in the work of the artists on display this past weekend. They all approach their respective crafts “with abandon” and are committed to preserving and improving these art forms so that we all can continue to be moved by their magic for years to come.







Chef Tyler Florence



Chef Tim Love from Texas teams up with Kings of Leon drummer, Nathan Followill, to talk about the art of burning food.



Sweet potato hummus with pecan sage pesto

Andy Ticer manning the birds.

Chef Andy Ticer manning the birds.

Always creative and fun ideas pouring at the Tito's table.

Always creative and fun ideas pouring at the Tito’s table.



Hunter Hayes owning the stage.




Caleb and crew saying good night.


Photos by Evelyn Savage

Husk, Where Have You Been?

I must say, I am getting pretty darn excited about going to Charleston for the Charleston Wine + Food Festival (CFWF). Just like Music to Your Mouth, I will be surrounded by some of the greatest chefs in the country.

One of those chefs, Sean Brock, recently had a restaurant ranked in the top 3 of the country by Bon Appetit. It’s no surprise his restaurants receive such accolades, considering the star chef running them has been given the James Beard award for “Best Chef Southeast”, winner of Food Network “Next Great Chef” and competed on “Iron Chef America.” Chef Brock has been in this business for a long time now and has built a reputation of not only preparing the most mind-blowing dishes but of leading the movement of heritage foods preservation and refining the farm to table efforts now sweeping the country.

I was in Charleston recently with my partner in crime, Evelyn, and paid a visit to Mr. Brock’s establishment, Husk. It was an early Sunday brunch on our next to the last day in the city. More importantly it was (gasp) our first time in. We moved quickly after scanning the menu and did what any two proper Southern girls would do…we ordered one of everything.

Okay, maybe not one of everything, but more than enough. Our waiter suggested her favorites and we picked some other irresistible dishes. The first course included three appetizers (we weren’t messing around). We had the trend-setting Fried Chicken Skins, Pimento Cheese crostini, and the Kenutckyaki glazed pig ear wrapped in lettuce and served with orange marinated cabbage slaw with toasted peanuts and cilantro. Yep. You heard nothing after glazed pig ears, did you? I was a little skeptical about them myself, but the older I get the more open I am to trying new things. (Not ready for the lamb “fries” just yet, though). All of the first courses were equally divine but my favorite was the Pimento cheese crostinis.

Our next course was the classic low-country dish–shrimp and grits, offering a less than predictable and delicious version that was a lovely surprise with every bite . It was a marriage of creamy charred scallion grits and sweet corn, peas, and bacon in a bowl with plump red shrimp thrown in there, all topped with a poached egg.


When we decided it was time to leave Husk–they weren’t going to bring us any more food–we paid our bill and left by the way of the wall-sized blackboard in the foyer listing all local sources for their foods. Quite impressive, as were the shelves of canned vegetables stacked neatly in front of the open kitchen.

I was so pleased to finally eat at Husk. We loved the whole experience and can’t wait to see what the Chef whips up for the wine and food festival in a few weeks!

Photography by Evelyn Laws.

Music to Your Mouth


Whoever first coined the phrase “you can’t go home” was probably in the middle of a long weekend at Palmetto Bluff, the setting for the 6th Annual Music to Your Mouth Festival (MTYM).

MTYM is a food festival to end all other food festivals.

It’s hard to explain the first time you enter the 20,000 acres that is Palmetto Bluff. The vast beauty of the conservation preserve filled with spanish moss and 32 miles of riverfront is breathtaking. Without a festival to attend, one could still get lost for days in the beautiful residential community with a resort spa and Jack Nicklaus signature golf course. And if being pampered or hitting the links is not your thing, there’s always kayaking, biking, and fishing.

Adding a weekend of culinary indulgence to this serene environment, and you’ll think you’ve gone to heaven. It’s hard to name another event that features so many of the South’s finest chefs in such a relaxed, approachable setting.

Sean Brock, Drew Robinson, Hugh Acheson, Chris Hastings, John Currence, Allan Benton, and Ashley Christensen were just a few in the all-star lineup. The James Beard Foundation and Southern Foodways Alliance were active participants with awards and showings of short films showcasing the legendary bourbon-maker, Julian P. Van Winkle, III and the godfather of pork, Allan Benton.


Two days of bluegrass music created the perfect soundtrack to this Southern foodie weekend. But the best part, for me, was walking from table to table sampling the best in culinary creations while listening to interviews by John T. Edge and demonstrations by some of the finest chefs of the South.

Limited tickets meant no long lines, which is a good thing when you are transfixed by the smoked ham and cast iron skillets of bacon on Allan Benton’s table. Or when you’re being served a plate of Jim ‘n Nick’s perfectly smoked pork on white bread drenched in BBQ sauce and a couple of their divine cheese biscuits. Hungry yet? And since there was only a small band of Southern food worshipers,  finding a spot at fire pit to roast your gourmet s’mores was easy.

The MTYM folks got it right even more by donating a portion of every ticket to Second Helpings, a local organization set up to fight hunger.

From the potlikker block party to the oyster roast, the event was Dixie at its best. After all, a festival which sports a Bacon Forest and Game Day Beer Garden just takes things to another level, right?



I survived the weekend of indulgence. My waistline wasn’t so lucky. But I have a year to work off the damage before next year’s Music to Your Mouth Festival!

Photography by Evelyn Laws