In May, I had the absolute pleasure of attending the Southern Food Writing Conference in Knoxville, TN. Y’all let me tell you, this conference is the place to be if you’re at all interested in writing about Southern food or just shaking the hands of the movers and shakers of the Southern food writing world.
According to the Southern Foodways Alliance, this conference is the gathering place for Southern food-writing icons to discuss what makes our food and culture worth writing about. I have to say I couldn’t agree more. I looked around the room at one point and found myself surrounded by the likes of established cookbook authors, James Beard award recipients, contributors to magazines such as Garden & Gun, Southern Living and The Local Palate and people who have made food blogging their life’s passion. I have to admit, I was star struck.
Left Middle: Linda Carman, Test Kitchen Director of White Lily and Martha White with Robyn Stone, Publisher of Add a Pinch; Bottom Left: Chef Edward Lee, James Beard award Nominee, Author of “Smoke and Pickles” and a fan favorite on Top Chef Texas; Right: Jessica Mischner, Senior Editor at Garden & Gun, John T. Edge, Director of The Southern Foodways Alliance and Hunter Lewis, Executive Editor of Southern Living. Wow! All of these people, all of this talent, all together in one room?! Oh my sweet goodness!
After a fun-filled day of soaking in all of the knowledge passed down from the experienced food writing professionals, it was time to venture out for dinner at Blackberry Farm in Walland, TN. On the bus ride over I was fortunate enough to get to enjoy a lovely chat with Jessica Mischner, Senior Editor of Garden & Gun. She had such wonderful things to say about Blackberry Farm, I found myself growing more and more excited about arriving. I certainly did not expect it to be this beautiful!
After enjoying some social time on the grounds, we were invited into the barn for dinner. Not just any ‘ole dinner, y’all, I’m talking 5 courses of melt in your mouth, died and gone to Foodie Heaven kind of good. The kind of good that would earn someone a nomination for a James Beard award for being the best chef in the Southeast. Oh, wait, that is exactly how good it was because it was actually prepared by the Barn’s Executive Chef Joseph Lenn, and his team of culinary professionals.
Bottom Left: Joseph Lenn running his kitchen like clockwork.
Everything about this dinner was absolute perfection, from the Chicken Liver Pate to the Olive and Sinclair Chocolate Mousse, but I have to say that the Benton’s Bacon Wrapped Rabbit was the winner for me. If you’re not familiar with Benton’s Bacon, you should look into fixing that. You haven’t had bacon until you’ve had Benton’s!
After a fun-filled day of learning, networking, and most importantly EATING, I was absolutely exhausted. I couldn’t wait to get back to my room and fall into a foodie coma. 😉 While I had no problem sleeping like a baby, I was like a kid waiting on Christmas morning looking forward to what was to come the next day. The following afternoon, I was going back to Blackberry Farm to go on a private tour of their grounds. From the moment I stepped off the bus, I was in love, but you’ll have to come back later to find out all about my adventures there!