By Elizabeth McGough
For nearly 30 years, the Taste of Charleston has celebrated Lowcountry cuisine, featuring some of Charleston’s finest, nationally renowned chefs.
This year’s event, spread out over the entire weekend, brought together more than 40 of Charleston’s best restaurants to host more than 10,000 locals and tourists alike. Put on by the Greater Charleston Restaurant Association (GCRA), the Taste of Charleston has long been lauded one of the “top 20 events in the southeast” by the Southeastern Tourism Society. The addition of three new events to this year’s schedule catered directly to visitors, enticing a weekend-long culinary indulgence from regional and national tourists.
For the first time, the Taste of Charleston offered a full weekend of events that included a local Iron Chef competition and a downtown art walk, but it was Sunday’s main event at Boone Hall Plantation that drew huge crowds. Visitors poured into Boone Hall to take advantage of the first-rate food and live entertainment, set amongst one of Charleston’s most historic backdrops. Fine representations from Charleston’s best restaurants offered visitors a true “taste” of Lowcountry cuisine and a chance to sample local fare without the huge impact to their wallet.
Live music and good libations may be enough to draw a steady crowd to Taste of Charleston on a muggy October day, but it is the food that keeps people coming back year after year. Standouts included seared duck with broccolini in a fig-wine reduction from the Library at Vendue Inn as well as the Maverick Southern Kitchens menu, which featured a vegetable tart with pickled shrimp and beef sliders done right. Most notable though was the abundance of fresh ingredients – much of what has recently been available at the farmer’s market presented itself in many of the restaurants’ tastings. Local event-goer Lindsay Branciforte said, “To be able to create so many small plates at such high quality is truly a testament to these restaurants, and all with the historic Charleston experience of Boone Hall Plantation. The only thing lacking about the Taste of Charleston is the parking.”
The Taste of Charleston also serves as a forum for the GCRA to give back to the community in which it thrives. The GCRA represents the largest private sector employer in the tri-county area and serves as the voice of the Charleston Area food industry. The Taste of Charleston and the annual Lowcountry Oyster Festival, both sponsored by the GCRA and held at Boone Hall Plantation, raise funds for local charitable organizations such as the Hollings Cancer Center and Charleston County Schools enrichment programs.
For more information about these events, visit www.charlestonrestaurantassociation.com.