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.