Grains & Grits, a festival of southern spirits and gourmet grub located at the Townsend Visitors Center, will return for a third year on November 3, 2018. This year, attendees can expect a new addition. The event’s culinary aspect will be elevated as high-profile chefs in the area offer tastings of their renowned fare and tickets for dinner-sized portions will be available.
The festival will continue to have a focus on bringing together whiskey lovers and distillers from across the country to celebrate the culture of whiskey, spirits and distilling in Tennessee. However, the additional emphasis on food will enable the festival to reach a broader audience, highlight the area’s unique culinary offering and ensure guests at the event are satiated.
Chefs from throughout the region will team up with distillers to demonstrate how whiskey can be used as a culinary ingredient, providing tastings for attendees. The tastings are included in the Grains & Grits Festival ticket price, but for attendees who would like a dinner-sized portion of their favorite fare, additional $10 food tickets will be available for purchase at the event and online through pre-sale.
Dancing Bear Lodge Executive Chef Shelley Cooper, a participant in the Grains & Grits Festival since its inception, is leading this year’s culinary component of the event. She
finds that showcasing the ability of chefs in the region provides a new perspective.
“The chefs participating in this year’s festival are passionate about the whiskey, our region and the culture and their cuisine will be representative of this,” said Cooper. “Whiskey is great for drinking, but the chefs will show how whiskey has broader applications and can also be used for cooking.”
Geoff Kenny, corporate chef for Nama, Shuck and Cru Bistro and Wine Bar in Knoxville, Tennessee will join the Grains & Grits Festival bringing decades of experience and a passion for local ingredients and creative cuisine. From Asheville, North Carolina, guest chefs Ryan and Catherine Kline of Zambra will also share their delectable farm-to-table, Western Mediterranean-inspired fare incorporating the best ingredients in the region.
Nancy Bruns of J.Q. Dickinson Salt Works joins the festival as a vendor. This high-end salt provider located in the West Virginia harvests all-natural salt by hand trapped below the Appalachian Mountain. The salt is incorporated into many of the chefs dishes.
The festival is arranged and hosted by the Tennessee Distillers Guild and the Smoky Mountain Tourism Development Authority. The 2017 festival was a hit with over 700 whiskey and spirits enthusiasts and foodies. Each year the organizations spearheading the event seek to make it even bigger and better.
“We think both whiskey and culinary enthusiasts alike will enjoy the broader food selection this year,” said Blount Partnership Director of Tourism Kim Mitchell. “The ticket price for Grains & Grits will remain the same, but the option to purchase an additional food ticket for a larger, dinner-sized food portion in addition to the tastings will ensure guests don’t leave hungry.”
Tickets for Grains & Grits are $65 online or $75 the day of the event and include live entertainment, whiskey and food tastings. Tickets for dinner-sized meals are $10.
For more information or tickets to Grains & Grits, visit the event website at grainsandgrits.com.