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FeastivALL raises funds for arts celebration with 5-course meal, more

KENNY KEMP | Gazette-Mail
Berry Hills Executive Chef Heath Ax prepares a dish in the kitchen. Ax spent two to three months writing, testing and tweaking this year’s FeastivALL menu.
Heath Ax (left), Rich Ireland and John H. Brown toast to FeastivALL. Ax and chef Paul Smith will prepare a five-course meal for FeastivALL Saturday, while Ireland and Brown select beer and wine pairings to go with each course.

It’s all tied up in Charleston’s battle of wine versus beer.

Guests at the fifth annual FeastivALL event Saturday will have the chance to cast their tie-breaking votes to see which beverage pairing comes out on top — until next year.

FeastivALL, a weekend-long fundraiser for Charleston’s FestivALL events, will take place this weekend.

The “signature” FeastivALL dinner is at Berry Hills Country Club Saturday evening, where guests will enjoy a five-course meal prepared by Chef Heath Ax of Berry Hills Country Club and Chef Paul Smith of Buzz Food Service.

Each course will be paired with a wine, chosen by Vines & Vittles columnist and local wine expert John Brown, and a beer, chosen by local beer expert Rich Ireland.

Guests will vote on which drink went best with each course — casting their votes for an overall winner.

“We’re not sure what’s going to happen,” Brown said. “We have no idea.”

“Yeah, it’s all tied up,” Ireland said. “It depends on the crowd. Sometimes you pick a beer, or he picks a wine, that people just don’t like. They can’t get past that.”

Friendly competition aside, Brown and Ireland said they look forward to the event as their way to give back to Charleston’s celebration of the arts.

“It’s a fun night,” Ireland said.

“And it’s for a really good cause,” Brown said.

Ax, who wrote this year’s FeastivALL menu, said he spent two to three months writing, testing and tweaking the five-course menu along with Smith.

Each course features “different flavor profiles,” he said, ranging from spicy, and sweet, to earthy and tart.

Ax’s first course is a black cherry wintergreen dish with oak leaves, candied hazelnuts, pomegranate and roasted black cherries served with poppyseed dressing.

The second course is a grilled barramundi fish served with Moroccan root vegetables and braised leek au gratin.

The third course, a “palate cleanser,” will be an intermezzo dish with brown sugar quenelles with apple pie foam.

Ax’s fourth course is a beef saltimbocca braciole with Tuscan kale, smoked Gouda, prosciutto, fresh sage and roasted red peppers with herb garlic beurre blanc.

The last course, a dessert, is a pineapple mille feuilles, which includes granola brittle, cherry pearls and maple brown sugar foam.

“With all the different flavor profiles, it’s not redundant,” Ax said. “All the different profiles should be really easy to pair up with. There’s enough versatility.”

Ax, who is originally from Michigan, said he is looking forward to giving back to the community using his culinary skills.

Event chair Ashley Harmon said there are expected to be 250 guests for the FeastivALL weekend’s signature event Saturday. Limited tickets are still available for purchase online, she said.

The FeastivALL dinner begins at 6 p.m. with a cocktail hour and dinner to follow. The event also includes a silent auction, live music and theatrical performances,

FeastivALL event chairwoman Ashley Harmon said while this year marks the event’s fifth anniversary, this year will be the first weekend-long FeastivALL celebration.

“A lot of the FestivALL events focus on the traditional forms of art. FeastivALL weekend came from an idea of celebrating culinary events,” Harmon said. “This is a weekend dedicated to that.”

The weekend of culinary arts celebration begins Friday with a cooking and a painting class at Uncork & Create from 6 to 9 p.m. Attendees will create a West Virginia-themed painting, or participate in a cooking class, where they will learn how to cook “Appa-Tappas” — Appalachian-inspired tapas. Food and beverages will be provided by FestivALL, and a portion of the proceeds will go to FestivALL. Tickets are $40 and can be purchased online. Limited tickets are still available for each class.

Also new this year, Harmon said FeastivALL has partnered with Bluegrass Kitchen to offer a “Last Chance Valentine Brunch” for the whole family on Sunday from 9:30 a.m. to noon.

For $30 each, adults will enjoy a “classic brunch” from Bluegrass.

Adult ticket menu items include two drinks (limited to mimosas, bloody marys and a selection of craft beers, coffee and juice); petite steak and local eggs with red eye gravy, potatoes and Texas toast; asparagus tart with local scrambled eggs, crispy lardons, hollandaise and brioche toast; and a savory cheddar and bacon waffle with fried chicken and country gravy

Children’s tickets are $17 each for the brunch. While the adults enjoy their brunch, kids will be taken to a different room with a team of volunteers to enjoy a make-your-own breakfast taco buffet, kid-friendly crafts, mini cinnamon rolls and fresh-squeezed orange juice.

Harmon said the FeastivALL weekend is about giving attention to the — sometimes forgotten — art form of culinary arts.

“A lot of art forms are all about creativity. That’s something we don’t give a lot of recognition to — the science, the creativity in the culinary arts,” she said. “It’s what FestivALL is all about — giving people new and different things.”

For more information, location details and to purchase tickets for any of the FeastivALL weekend events, visit festivallcharleston.com/tickets.

Reach Carlee Lammers at carlee.lammers@wvgazettemail.com, 304-348-1230 or follow @CarleeLammers on Twitter.

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