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With a little help from his friends, Chef Kyle McKnight’s Hootenanny gathers Southeast’s best

By Amber Donoghue

March 24, 2016

Food is a binding agent that holds our most organic pieces together; Families, traditions, communities, friends sharing a table, a sandwich, a memory. Food is at the root of our subconscious, strong in presence. For people like Chef Kyle McKnight, food is an art medium through which he tells a story. Kyle writes a history lesson of his heritage, training and upbringing on this plate. On Monday, March 28 at Highland Ave in Hickory, NC Chef Kyle and many of his talented friends will tell a story of how food can help raise others up.

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Chef Kyle McKnight

Kyle and Friends Hootenanny, a collaborative dinner contrived of 33 chefs, brewers and distillers is set to benefit the Hickory Soup Kitchen which has been feeding several of our communities less fortunate since 1983. Chef Kyle has made it his priority to get involved in charity work that has a direct connection to food. “Hootenanny” is a Scottish term meaning celebration or party. Scots were one of the largest groups to settle in the Appalachians bringing with them their cooking techniques, farming practices, music and distilling methods of whiskey (which would later translate to moonshining in the mountains). And who better to throw a party with than friends?

“Kyle and I have known each other since middle school and ended up attending culinary school together in Charleston, SC.” says Chris Edwards, Chef de Cuisine of the Salamander Resort and Spa. Edwards is excited to cook a dish for the Hootenanny that ties Southern BBQ with traditional Indian curry.

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Highland Avenue Restaurant in Hickory, North Carolina

The number of people who are involved in this dinner is quite impressive and speaks to McKnight’s strong character and his passion for food.  “I buy food from friends,” McKnight has been quoted to say. He considers small farms from many regions to be worthy of support, not necessarily those within 100 miles or just in the Carolinas. Working relationships built over time have been cultivated through the industry, social media and networking. The participants in the Hootenanny will be traveling from Virginia, Georgia, Alabama and more!

“It’s the friendships we develop that communicates the message throughout the culinary universe. It’s how information is shared and advancement of our industry is achieved. It’s the lessons that we pass on to the chefs of the future, by working together and storytelling. It’s how the history is documented.” says Edwards when asked about the importance of collaborative dinners.

An event like Kyle and Friends Hootenanny is extremely unique in the sense that the diner is exposed to so many different flavors, cuisines, and stories told by the people making the food and drink. Almost like an intimate food festival without the lines or hassle, Chef Kyle has asked some of the South’s most brilliant culinary minds to come and share their passion in the name of a wonderful cause.

Clark Barlowe, Chef/Owner of Heirloom will be cooking Monday’s dinner. “It is so uncommon in the restaurant industry due to the hours and schedules of everyone that I welcome any opportunity to cook with other chefs, especially in an environment such as this where the pressure is off and we all enjoy each others company.”

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Chef Clark Barlowe

If you are looking to catch some good karma and geek out in an epicurean manor check out the dinner Monday night in Hickory, NC. With a little help from his friends, Chef Kyle McKnight is looking to fill the bowls of the Hickory Soup Kitchen with the proceeds from his benefit dinner. Serving several counties in the area the soup kitchen and Kyle have quite the task at hand. A hootenanny is in order. Won’t you join us there?

More details on the Kyle and Friends Hootenanny on Monday, March 28 at Highland Avenue 

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