Culinary Guild Symposium Showcases Charlotte’s Rich Food Scene

Piedmont Culinary Guild programs and badges

In early March, JWU’s Charlotte Campus played host to — and participated in — the first annual Piedmont Culinary Guild Food & Beverage Symposium.

The event brought together 30+ presenters from all sectors of Charlotte’s thriving food scene, from farmers, growers and butchers to chefs, cheesemakers and bakers to share their expertise and knowledge with more than 200 food professionals, purveyors and enthusiasts.

Labs were filled with people learning the crafts of yogurt, jam and cheese-making, the art of pickling, and techniques for whole animal butchery.

Classrooms engaged in lively conversations about social media and branding, sustainable ingredients and menus, and other trending topics in the food world. Roundtable discussions and labs alike highlighted regional food production and sustainability among Charlotte’s amazing food scene.

Heirloom’s Clark Barlowe gives guests instructions on rabbit butchery (left) and Chef Ashley Boyd (300 East/Heritage Food & Drink)  discusses cheese-based desserts.

Heirloom’s Clark Barlowe gives guests instructions on rabbit butchery (left) and Chef Ashley Boyd (300 East/Heritage Food & Drink) discusses cheese-based desserts. Photos courtesy Piedmont Culinary Guild.

Local purveyors handing out samples included Redemption Brew Works, Lucky Leaf Farms, Uncle Scott’s Root Beer, Farm to Home Milk, Leading Green Distributing, Muddy River Distillery and Queen City Pantry. (Lunch was all local as well, utilizing veggies, meats and grains from the greater Charlotte area.)

In addition to hosting the event, JWU was well-represented by alumni and faculty who led many of the demonstrations, including Chef Megan Lambert (“Jammin’”), Chef Paul Malcolm (“Whole Hog Butchery”), and Heirloom chef-owner Clark Barlowe '09, who led the goat and rabbit butchery lab along with Chef Steven Goff.

Noted food historian David Shields giving the keynote address on seed saving.

Restoring Southern cuisine through seed-saving: David Shields giving the Symposium Keynote. Photos: Piedmont Culinary Guild (left) and Sarah Turner Wells '15 (right)

Food historian and author (“The Ark of Taste”) David Shields gave the keynote presentation to a packed auditorium.

Shields, Carolina Distinguished Professor at the University of South Carolina’s College of Arts and Sciences, highlighted the significance of Southeastern cuisine, a blend of Native American, African and European cultures. Providing tidbits of history interspersed with facts about imperiled fruits and vegetables, Shields enthralled us all with his enthusiasm for the preservation of our local crops. (Shields has served as an inspiration for JWU alum Sean Brock’s own efforts to save and revive traditional Southern crops like Jimmy Red corn and benne.)

In parallel to the Symposium, the Culinary Guild also sponsored their first-ever Student Scholarship Competition, with a total of $1000 in prize money at stake. Students were tasked with creating two dishes (an appetizer and main) from Mystery Basket ingredients that included Benton’s Bacon and Tega Hill Farms lacinato kale.

Students getting ready for the Mystery Basket competition at JWU Charlotte.

Culinary students competed for prize money in the Culinary Guilds first-ever Mystery Basket competition. JWU Charlotte student Megan Weathers won. Photo: Sarah Turner Wells

JWU student Megan Weathers won first place and $500 for her kale, frisée and bacon salad with pear-lemon vinaigrette (app) and thyme-crusted pork loin with tomato broth and crispy polenta (entrée).

Naomi Knox of the Art Institute of Charlotte earned second place honors and $250 for her bacon and sweet potato hash kale wrap with citrus drizzle (app) and cormeal-coated pork tenderloin with apple, pear and kale slaw (entrée).

JWU Charlotte’s support of the PCG’s Symposium illustrates our local and sustainable initiative and was evident within this symposium which allowed food and beverage enthusiasts to meet, share and learn about this thriving community within our region.

NOTE: Sarah Turner Wells '15 contributed photos and additional content to this article.

Lunch is served: Pickle bar and salad bar, all made from locally-sourced ingredients. Photos courtesy of Piedmont Culinary Guild.

Pickle bar and salad bar, all from local ingredients.

Topics: Food economy Charlotte Alumni Academic Collaborations