The State Museum is hosting a two-day film festival that invites the public to explore South Carolina foodways through film, food, conversation and more.
The Feast Film Fest on June 8-9, held in conjunction with Farm to Table Events Co., will feature two screenings per evening of locally produced films paired with guest speakers and food tastings from local chefs.
“Feast is an opportunity to explore the diverse foodways of South Carolina,” said Paul Matheny, director of collections at the State Museum. “This program celebrates the chefs, farms and the culinary intersection of flavors, traditions and concepts that have developed the rich food history in South Carolina, and its continuously evolving food scene.”
Matheny, museum staff and Vanessa Bialobreski, managing partner of Farm to Table Event Co., have been planning the film festival for two years. The idea was sparked at the 2015 Farm to Gallery Makers Dinner held at the museum. At the Gallery Makers dinner, artisans from around the state created handmade pottery and tables, and chefs prepared locally grown foods. With Feast, organizers are bringing together chefs, farmers, filmmakers and food historians for the two day event.
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“The timing is perfect,” says Matheny. “Columbia is growing ... and new restaurants opening.”
Bialobreski says she has seen the disconnect that once existed between farmers and chefs begin to disappear over the past few years. “It’s a constant education,” she says, about where our food comes from. “Feast is a chance to reach the entire Midlands community” through film and food.
Since the museum has a good relationship with South Carolina ETV, the Feast lineup will include documentaries produced by SCETV and episodes of Palmetto Scene in addition to entries by independent filmmakers.
Charleston-based filmmaker Thibaut Fagonde will be presenting his work, “Overalls & Aprons,” on Friday evening and hosting an audience discussion afterward. “Overalls and Aprons,” which previewed last year at Indie Grits, shows the relationship between Lowcountry chefs and farmers and food producers and explores the costs and benefits in a community investing in a sustainable food system.
“I see the film as a tool kit for others to become inspired and organized,” says Fagonde.
Locally grown food is actually cheaper and healthier, he says, and the impact on the environment can be more readily monitored at the source.
The subject of one of Fagonde’s future projects, Chef Benjamin (BJ) Dennis, will also be attending Feast. Dennis is a personal chef and caterer in the Lowcountry and part of the Gullah Geechee community. He was featured in an episode of “Top Chef: Charleston” on Bravo TV in which he prepared dinner for the cheftestants. Along with David Belanger (Clammer Dave), Dennis will host one of the Friday evening screenings.
Among the list of speakers are Bialobreski (Farm to Table Events Co), Stan Woodward (filmmaker), Eric McClam (City Roots), Keith Mearns (horticulturist at Historic Columbia), Tim Gardner (owner/sommelier, Lula Drake), Nat Bradford (farmer), David Shields (chairman, Carolina Gold Rice Foundation) and Glenn Roberts (Anson Mills).
Mike Davis, chef/owner of Terra in West Columbia, will also be in attendance on Friday. He will prepare a Carolina Gold rice dish to complement “Southern Foodways Alliance: Carolina Grist,” which focuses on Glenn Roberts, the founder of Anson Mills.
“Most folks don’t know that Glenn is here in Columbia and how far-reaching his work is across the United States,” Davis said. “He is so well respected. I’ve seen Anson Mills products on the menu at French Laundry (Thomas Keller’s three-star Michelin restaurant in Yountville, Calif.).”
Davis is looking forward to Feast. “Anything to get people fired up about food,” he says. “It’s all about opening the eyes of the public... to bring awareness to South Carolina food.”
In addition to Davis, some of the participating chefs are Todd Woods, Blake Fairies, Lou Hutto, Frank Bradley, Kristian Niemi, Charley Scruggs, Pierce Bowers and Tim Gardner. Beverages will be provided by Swamp Cabbage Brewing Co., Crouch Distilling, River Rat Brewery, and Copper Horse Distilling.
FEAST Film Festival
When: Thursday, June 8, and Friday, June 9
Where: State Museum, 310 Gervais St.
Tickets: Opening night: $75 ($60 for museum members); Friday lunch, $40 ($32 members); Friday night, $75 ($60 members). Two-day pass, $170 ($135 members).
South Carolina on a plate
In recent years there has been a resurgence of Southern food, some of it originating in South Carolina. Did you know...
Anson Mills, founded in Columbia by Glenn Roberts, specializes in growing and milling heirloom grains including Carolina Gold Rice, Old and New World buckwheat, benne, corn, wheat, rye, oats, farro, and Southern peas and beans. www.ansonmills.com. WATCH: Glenn Roberts talks about SC’s culinary history
Carolina Gold Rice Foundation, chaired by USC professor David Shields, began as a group of scientists and scholars focused on the recovery, preservation, and reintroduction through growth and distribution of heritage grains that have been threatened with extinction. Some of the heirloom products “brought back” include Carolina Gold Rice, the Bradford watermelon, Sea Island peas, white flint corn, purple ribbon sugarcane and the Carolina African runner peanut. www.carolinagoldricefoundation.org
The Herbemont grape was cultivated and grown in downtown Columbia in the early 1800s by Nicholas Herbemont, a native of the Champagne region in France. The Herbemont is one of the six grape varieties that form the basis of the American grape industry and the source of fine red and rose wines at the time. In the 1870s, nearly every Herbemont vine in the United States – from the Carolinas to Missouri and Texas – was dug up and sent to Europe, because it was resistant to the devastating phylloxera mite. Columbia’s Herbemont grape saved the French noble vintages. In 2016, Historic Columbia received root stock plants from Texas A&M – the Herbemont is still used in Texas wine production today – which were planted in the gardens at Robert Mills Historic House. In early 2017, two vines were planted at City Roots Farm in Columbia. www.historiccolumbia.org READ MORE
The Bradford watermelon is a heirloom that was thought to be lost. From the 1860s through the 1910s, the Bradford was the most sought-after melon in the South because of its flavor. The Bradford fell out of favor in the late 1910s because its thin rind made it difficult to ship. In 2013, Nat Bradford, who had been growing the watermelon that bears his family’s name in a few acres near Sumter, contacted the Carolina Gold Rice Foundation, among other groups, in order to bring his family’s watermelon back to market. After almost 100 years, the Bradford has reappeared in limited production and seeds are available for the home gardener. bradfordwatermelons.com READ MORE
Rodger Winn is a seed saver in Little Mountain. His passion for saving and growing heirloom varieties of vegetables and flowering plants has earned him a national reputation and a second job as a grower for seed catalogs. www.rodgersheirlooms.com READ MORE