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Two words: bison tongue. Thank you chef Michael Paley (of Proof on Main in Louisville, KY) for introducing my palate to the beauty that is this savory treat at last night’s Farm Feast Auction. Cowboy boots and hats were on display as early festival attendees bid on silent and live auction items benefitting Feed the Need and Lowcountry Local First’s Incubator Farm and Training Center. And, thanks to the Blue Plantation Band, the event got off to a jolly start as guests entered to the sounds of “Dixie.”

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Along with Paley, chefs Tyler Brown from the Capitol Grille in Nashville, Anne Quatrano of Bacchanalia and other venues in Atlanta, Linton Hopkins from Restaurant Eugene in Atlanta, Bill Smith of Crooks’ Corner in Chapel Hill, and Charleston's own Nathan Thurston (who’s soon to open Stars restaurant on King Street) dished up small bites at stations throughout the Marriott Courtyard Hotel. Hungry guests squared off for Smith’s fried oysters while others nibbled Hopkins’ surprising pate-like shrimp rillettes.

Of course the wine and beer flowed, but guests’ attention was on the food—that was until Mickey Bakst of Charleston Grill took the mic to begin the live auction for items such as "The Last Supper" with chefs Mike Lata, Michelle Weaver, and Sean Brock and a “Coast off to Cabo” vacation up for bid. The numbers have yet to be tallied on how much the event brought in, but given the happy atmosphere, early projections are positive. All in all a nice kick off to the food frenzy that lies ahead.

Next up: Tomorrow I head to the Festival Opening Ceremonies! Follow me on Twitter @kinsey_gidick & @charlestonmag for live updates.

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