It's been quite a busy weekend for us.
We've made at least seven stops in Georgetown County to buy take-out and support eateries locally and traveled to McClellanville to make two more stops.
Our McClellanville stops were to Boats N Hoagies and McClellanville Diner, both of which really need the continuous support of town folk and from abroad.
The most common thoughts in providing help to our hospitality industry, specifically our restaurants, are geared towards buying. Whether it be curbside, delivery and/or take-out possibilities, we want to take advantage of what is offered to help keep these businesses alive.
More, we think of gift cards. That helps, too.
A new week brings new challenges. Everyone is day-to-day with their preparation. Some have already had to make the hard, tough decision to close until further notice. Now, that presents a scary situation.
Factoring the length of our restaurants being shuttered to dine-in customers, staffing and product availability, restaurants that close face an uphill battle in getting reopened.
Reports on the national scene say as much as 40 percent could never reopen again. Either way, the landscape will change. We face a possibility of losing a few eateries we've enjoyed for years when this clears.
I have shared via e-mail and social media a Facebook group for Georgetown County in which we can see and share what restaurant is offering curbside, delivery or takeout. I urge you all to join it, share on your social media and contribute.
You can add places you know of, share photos of food you get and do live videos encouraging the owners and chefs.
Another suggestion is cease all negative reviews on web platforms i.e. Google, Tripadvisor and Yelp. These are counteractive and pointless. They are NOT what the industry needs.
If you have an issue, take it up personally. Call them. E-mail them. Reach out privately on social media.
What the industry needs is what I've been doing for more than six years. One hundred percent positivity.
I also ask you share restaurants' posts on your social media. Even in good times, a marketing budget is not a priority, given our market. So, help them out with your networks. Share a post so others can see who follow you. Grow their reach organically. Take a photo of that amazing burger and tag them everywhere.
What the industry needs is an outpouring of support.
There have been many nonprofits that ask and ask again for donations from restaurants, participation in events. It's our turn to support them.
Those in the industry chose it because they love cooking and perfecting dishes for you. They seek out "beautiful smiles" as a deal closer for those "beautiful dishes" they create.
Let's come together and use our word-of-mouth power to keep these great eateries open, so they remember who was there for them when they needed us the most. Let's show them we can do as a whole what Georgetown Foodland has done and that's support with our hearts.
If communication ceases from our end, meaning we don't carry the message, the light will fade.
The awesome food we enjoy will possibly disappear.
Enjoy the culinary adventure, even it's take-out at home. The folks in the restaurants will thank you for it.
The rain that came during Opening Ceremony and Opening Night could not extinguish the culinary fire brought by all the talented chefs and staff at this year's Charleston Wine + Food.
And for those in attendance, they witnessed the precursor to the best festival yet.
With its 15th year in the books, the entire Charleston Wine + Food organization can be proud. The amazing talent, the production aspect, the quality of food, the Southern hospitality displayed were just a few key performance indicators that were off the charts.
This year, I was honored with media credentials, meaning I was able to attend many events held during the festival. My favorites were the Password, Please special party before Opening Night, Opening Night itself and Saturday's Culinary Village.
More, I was able to meet some of my chef friends in person that I have been connected with on social media for more than a year or so. It was such a humbling and rewarding experience.
More humbling, I was taken by surprise by chef Jason Scarborough and US Foods when he made me an honorary Food Fanatic. I was so choked up by the reveal on live video, I think I only got out a handshake, hug and thank you. Many times. I mean, wow. How awesome is that.
For me, Opening Night was like Christmas Eve. You waited for dark as a kid to go to Grandma's house to have some super good food and spend time with friends and relatives you haven't seen in a while. Maybe, if you're lucky, you get to open a present.
Yeah, that feeling hit home as I waited for 7:30 p.m. and the music under the big tent in Marion Square Park to start. As soon as it did, I was under that tent in seconds.
I was just in time, too.
After getting to capture the calm before the storm, so to say, I was off to many of the chefs' tables to get shots of the plated food - and try some of it, too.
Yes, it was all good.
About an hour in, the tent was packed. People raved over the awesome dishes being presented and the great music from the band on stage. But, let's not kid ourselves. We were here for the food.
As I packed up and drove home to Georgetown, I was on cloud 9. Such great food offerings and super cool chefs.
Now, Christmas morning came in the form of Saturday's Culinary Village. Literally, I would have been blinded by the beautiful sunlight - and culinary superstardom - if not for my trusty sunglasses.
As I walked in through the gate I stopped in the middle of the park's X feature and took it all in before the crowd of people amassed. The culinary St. Nick had come. And so many gifts of food were bestowed upon us.
And what's a so-called culinary Christmas without something barbecuing on a grill, right?
Well, there was plenty of that. And everything was so good and warm on a rather chilly day.
One of my favorite dishes came from renowned chef Michael Tuohy of Fullhouse Hospitality.
That duck sausage over Anson Mills grits with duck gravy was so divine.
And I relate finding this dish to Ralphie found out he finally got that Red Ryder BB gun.
Yeah, this was my Ralphie moment for sure.
After tasting my final dish, it was off to enjoy the rest of the village and see the sights of what this year's Charleston Wine + Food Culinary Village for Saturday had to offer.
And, as I got home and wound down for the evening, I fell asleep soundly, with dreams of tasting great sausage from Swig & Swine's Anthony DiBernardo and wearing my US Foods Food Fanatics apron.