The whispers started some time ago. “Why can’t Savannah host a world-class type culinary event?” We have so much more great food to offer in Savannah than people realize. There is magnificent talent all over town cooking up some wonderful things. When Michael Owens took over the Tourism Leadership Council last year, one of his primary objectives was to make Taste of Savannah better. The annual event at the Convention Center had kinda/sorta run its course and was becoming predictable. Not to mention less and less popular. Thousands of ‘freebie’ tickets were handed out last year, a fraction of them showed. Don’t get me wrong, it was still a great event. The winning dishes were outstanding. But the fact remained…
Savannah could do better. Much better. A handful of us who discussed it knew that.
As soon as the calendar flipped to January, Owens went to work. Indoor? Outdoor? Night in Old Savannah? Maybe something a little more forward thinking. Discussions that could best be described as ‘aggressive’ began with all of the people in Savannah who could pull together such an event. And they did. They introduced Jan Gourley who is a major player in the very successful Hilton Head Island Wine and Food Festival every spring, got a couple of venues on board, invited a few well known chefs and you get the Savannah Wine and Food Festival.
“This is going to be huge.” Owens says. I can’t argue with that.
Eat It and Like It was created a few years ago because Savannah has great food all over town, not just the fried chicken lines. We knew this was a culinary destination. A lot of people knew this was a culinary destination, but not enough people know this is a culinary destination. This sounds the horn, doesn’t it?
The reality is a lot of people still won’t understand how significant it is to have James Beard Award Foundation on board with this event. The foundation is the top of the charts when it comes to chefs and acknowledgements. Hollywood types win Academy Awards. Chefs win James Beard Awards. It’s the highest of honors you can get as a chef. The Foundation will be a part of Savannah’s first true Wine and Food Festival. That’s something Charleston can’t put up on their marquee.
This is going to be so much fun. This is going to be amazing. The names of chefs that are coming to town will be coming soon, but mark my words, this is going to be a very big deal. This is going to draw people from near and far to be a part of this. Obviously year one will be a great show, but this going to grow. Fast. I will go so far as too say, this can become Savannah Film Festival huge very, very quickly.
Get ready Savannah. Get ready to Eat It and Like It on a stage we’ve never seen before.