What to expect at the PCG Food & Beverage Symposium

oEKH4krD By Amber Donoghue

March 7, 2017

This Friday the Piedmont Culinary Guild will kick off the second PCG Symposium at The Art Institute of Charlotte welcoming chefs, farmers, food writers, bloggers, culinary educators, mixologists, restaurateurs and industry affiliates. Hosted by Kris Reid, Piedmont Culinary Guild executive director, the convention’s theme is Looking Back – Looking Forward. The idea is focused around food culture: what we eat, what we drink and how we can work together to create a healthier, more sustainable food environment for the future. “Our terroir is like nowhere else in the world,” Reid explained. “Our wonderful climate and soil demands our attention and respect as it is producing extremely unique flavor experiences from our fields, to our breweries, to our wineries, to our distilleries, to the plates coming out of the kitchens that support the preservation of flavor!”

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Courtesy of PCG

Last year’s event drew quite the crowd with classes on butchering, canning, farmer/chef relationships, social media management and branding and vegan cooking. This year will be much more intimate, Reid told us: “The venue is a bit smaller so I think the overall vibe will be way more personal. Class sizes will be smaller.”

What can you expect to learn at this event? Head Chef of Earl’s Grocery Marc Jacksina is hosting a fermenting pickles class. Jamie Swofford, chef turned farmer, will be sharing his shrub making skills. A coffee cupping will be hosted by writer and barista Diana Mnasakanyan, creator of Under Current Coffee (opening in Plaza Midwood this Spring). Internationally recognized and award winning Mixologist Bob Peters, host of The Punch Room in The Ritz Carlton, will be demonstrating the steps of designing a cocktail. Lenny Boy’s owner Townes Mozer is teaching a kombucha brewing course. James Beard semi-finalist and chef/owner of Heritage, Paul Verica will host a modern cooking techniques class. There will be mushroom cultivation, sausage making, beekeeping, cow butchering, ethnic flavors in local food, meatless meals, beer brewing and more.

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James Beard semi-finalist Paul Verica will host a modern cooking techniques class. Photo by Jonathan Cooper

Historian and writer Dr. Tom Hanchett will be the event’s keynote speaker. Known for his curating of the award-winning exhibits at the Levine Museum of the New South, Dr. Hanchett has been named by Charlotte Magazine as “Charlotte’s Dr. History.” Hanchett will start his speech, “Food from Home,” by addressing the audience and asking them to share their food memories growing up. “Then I’ll talk a bit about my own journey in writing the Food from Home column for the Charlotte Observer since 2009,” Hanchett said. “Among the international cultures with influence that reaches way back in Charlotte is Germany. Guess where livermush — perhaps our most distinctive food in the Charlotte region — comes from?” While the lecture isn’t the center focus of the symposium, it’s surely a highlight not to be missed.

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Historian Dr. Tom Hanchett.

But it’s not all learning. “Friday we will be at Free Range [Brewing] for a special Order/Fire screening that was produced just for us,” said Reid. Food and drinks will accompany the entertainment. Order/fire, a local web series hosted by PCG member Marc Jacksina will feature aquaponics farmer Brad Todd of Lucky Clay Fresh. Saturday, after classes end, ticket holders will enjoy a cocktail party on the AI campus. With two full days of learning, lunch will be provided by the culinary students of Art Institute.

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Courtesy of PCG

“From production to consumption the Piedmont has a lot and Piedmont Culinary Guild believes, just like our motto ‘All Ships Rise,’ that working together we will be able to raise our voices loud enough that the world will hear it,” Reid shared. Events like The PCG Symposium help keep knowledge, traditions, resources and information alive. There has never been a more important time to be educated on these topics that seem to have fallen dim to the clutches of convenience. All ships rise. It takes educated and passionate hands to lift them. Hands like Kris Reids. Hands like Dr. Tom Hanchett’s. Hands like yours.

Learn more about the PCG Food & Beverage Symposium happening March 11-12.

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