Steak & SOMM

The Savannah Food & Wine Festival’s screening of SOMM – a seriously compelling documentary that follows four friends in the lead up to taking the famously impossible Master Sommelier test – was simply not your ordinary film screening event. No, no! There were delicious Beringer wines, some tasty treats from Back in the Day Bakery, and what’s that…the Great Steak Challenge, featuring the Big Green Egg? I will now expect steak at every film screening I attend. Please and thank you.

Hosted by The Local Palette – a gorgeous, fancy food & drink magazine based out of Charleston – the evening kicked off with a bit of schmoozing and wine sipping amidst the welcome scents and smoke emanating from those ubiquitous egg shaped wonders. Really, we were all just sort of hovering around, waiting for the steak, which was being furiously prepared by local chefs Lauren Teague, Tim Rutherford, Gearry Caudell and Zebulon Berry.

When the moment finally arrived, it did not disappoint. In a cute twist, guests voted for their favorite steak by dropping a wine cork into the chef’s hat of their favorite contestant. And although Chef Teague’s unique blue cheese conception had my heart, it was ultimately Chef Zeb’s black truffle demi-glace creation that won the day. Truly, all efforts were delectable, and I only wish there had been more steak for us all to feast upon.

But wait! We still had a film to watch! Steak can be so distracting. And as much as the steak was what many of us were most excited about, SOMM was clearly the true winner of the evening.

An absolutely fascinating and personal look into the intense process of preparing for and taking the Master Sommelier test, SOMM follows four friends as they put everything else in their lives on hold in an attempt to pass a test that only 218 people in the world have ever succeeded at. Prior to watching the film, I was aware that becoming a Master Sommelier was no easy task. Post-film? Let’s just say your parents may not have heard of the Master Sommelier test when they told you that nothing is impossible. Regardless, the film was terrific, albeit a little too long, and you have to commend the filmmakers for putting together such an exciting documentary on a subject that easily could have been bone dry.

And lo and behold, we actually had a Master Somm in the house! Robert Jones – one of the people crazy enough to go through the maddening process of becoming a Master Sommelier – held a fascinating Q&A after the film, fielding questions mostly about why anyone would ever attempt this near-impossible feat.

All in all it was a fun, if low-key evening. I got to chat for a while with possibly the nicest people in the entire world, Del and Debra Ferguson of Hunter Cattle Co., who are part of the big Savannah feature in the latest issue of The Local Palate, by the way. Pick one up today!

We all filled our bellies with meat and wine, and we learned a whole lot about the world of being an über wine geek, including the notion that none of us ever want to go anywhere near that test. I’ll stick to just drinking the wine, thank you!

Dan Gilbert
Eat It and Like It

Eat It and Like It launched in Savannah, Georgia with television personality Jesse Blanco as the host. His passion for food and travel has made Eat It and Like It a two-time EMMY nominated program about contemporary and traditional Southern food.