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In its sixth year, Charleston’s sold-out ‘Salute to Charleston Chef’s’ opening party was the best yet and proved that years of hard work and trial and error have paid off. 

This year, the design layout allowed for an easy flow of patrons, short lines and few bottlenecks. The room felt especially homey with comfortable seating areas placed throughout.

While wine and cocktail stations were placed throughout the venue, the real focus was the food. The crowd's energy for Cypress chef Craig Diehl’s homemade hotdogs was infectious, and the buzz quickly spread not to miss his famous charcuterie.  Pig ear sandwiches won curiosity seekers over at Chef Sean Brock and Chef de Cuisine Travis Grimes’ Husk station.  The pork theme continued to be a favorite among diners at Peninsula Chef Bob Carter’s stationhis pork rillettes warranted a second visit. Desserts were available and not to be forgotten, although in an effort to pace my sugar intake for the days to come, I decided to forgo the sweets and have a Boris VanDyke specialty cocktail, The Ginger Apple Mojito.

The attendees this year were an eclectic mix of couples and clusters of foodies, excited to have the opportunity to sample so many restaurants and to chat directly with the chefs.  Some favorite food and wine personalities were in the crowd, as well. Guerilla Cuisine founder Jimi Hatt, barbeque pit master Jimmy Hagood, UCookwithBob chef Bob Carter, and Pappy VanWinkle bourbon owner Julian VanWinkle all had plates in hand and were making the rounds.  Guest chefs and celebrities who were already in town were enjoying the evening. Ray Isle, Food and Wine magazine’s wine expert, and Brian Voltaggio of Volt restaurant were spotted.

This is one event where they town can kick back and be treated by Charleston’s chefs before it’s their turn to show off at Marion Square or during Friday’s Dine Around. Cheers to this successful start and check back in for more on the Culinary Village, wine tastings, and Saturday night’s Festival After Hours party!