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My 2018 CHSWFF Picks

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This post is in partnership with the Charleston Wine & Food Festival and Holy Spokes Bikeshare, but all opinions are my own.

It's super easy to get overwhelmed when you see the vast array of awesome events that The Charleston Wine & Food Festival offers each year.  I wanted to share my top event picks, as well as some insider pointers I learned from last year!   Here are the events I'll be going to and/or my favorites from last year:

1.  Pecha Kucha, $45 // March 2, 7-11pm // There will be food from local food trucks and plenty of libations, then 8 speakers will inspire you with their 7 minute presentations.  Choir! Choir! Choir! is doing a special performance this year, too.  Ellen Marie Bennett from Hedley & Bennett is the emcee, and I just can't wait!

2.  Namaste Bubbly, $65 // March 4, 9:30-12 // Sarah Frick of Charleston Power Yoga will lead an energizing yoga class in the Cedar Room, and then you'll enjoy lots of bubbly and healthy bites.  This event was one of my favorites last year!

3.  Brunch Squad, $100 (for locals) // March 3, 11-1:30 // We'll be helping prep our own brunch alongside The Apron Lady, Ellen Marie Bennett, and some guest chefs.  There will be a DJ churning out fresh beats and we will possibly be churning some butter!

4.  Queens on King, $125 // March 4, 11-1 // The William Aiken House is going to be super wild and fun when Monica Van Pelt and friends dazzle us with a drag show to accompany a delicious brunch!

5.  Bowen's Fish Camp, $135 // March 1, 3:30-6 // The views on Bowen's Island are the perfect compliment to all the awesome food you'll get to try.  There will also be live music playing, so this will be sure to be an entertaining evening!


Insider Tips:

Bike or Walk.  Finding event parking will not be fun!  I highly recommend getting around on foot or on bike.  Did you know Charleston has a bike share program, Holy Spokes?!  I've ridden their bikes a few times, and not only are they cute, the system is really user friendly.  Read more about how it works here. They have a bike corral on nearly every corner, and you can find one near you on this map.  You'll want to indulge in all of the fabulous food you'll encounter, so adding a little extra exercise this week is a nice way to balance all of the delicious festival eating!

Pace Yourself!  There is a bite or sip everywhere you turn, so last year my best friend was something I dubbed a "water sandwich".  Wine, water, wine, water.  Repeat!  This will keep you from over-imbibing, which is easy to do and takes all the fun out of an event before you know it!

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Bring a Buddy! The events are such a great way to give your significant other the gift of a great experience.  I know it adds up when you have to buy 2 tickets, but it's SO much more fun when you can bring another friend or your boo along with you to experience all the fun!  We've gathered a whole group to go to Pecha Kucha Friday, and my awesome friend Andrea of Charleston Shop Curator will be at most of the other events with me.  I hope she keeps me in line!

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I'll be catching the festival along with the rest of the 2018 CHSWFF Street Team, so I hope to run into you!  Follow us via the hashtag #CHSWFFStreetTeam on Instagram so you can see all the fun!




Charleston Wine + Food Festival Recap

Gail Simmons alert! photo c/o  Abby Murphy Photography

Gail Simmons alert! photo c/o Abby Murphy Photography

The 2017 CHSWFF was a whirlwind of good times & culinary delights.  Every single event offered food, drinks, AND entertainment.  There were also plenty of culinary celebrities around every corner.  Words definitely can't express what a treat it was to get to be part of the media coverage for this event.  Thank you to Charleston Wine + Food for having me along as part of the #CHSWFFstreetteam! Here are some of the highlights from this year, and what I will definitely catch next time!

-My CHSWFF Faves-

1. The PUNS!

If you thought this was a stuffy festival for the culinary elite, you were wrong.  Just take a look at the event names, and you will understand that this festival doesn't take itself too seriously.  With event titles like "Slice slice baby", "Pinot NV", & "The Big Lebrewski", I just can't wait to see what they come up with next year!

2. Namaste Bubbly

Yoga + Veuve Cliquot + a great dj + a free yoga mat = my ideal Charleston event.  I love how there were plenty of GF/DF food options from Huriyali & Verde, and of course Veuve is always a treat.  We got fizz-ical, y'all! 

3. Hooked on Bowens 

What is better than a bunch of great seafood dishes? Seafood + tequila!  Don Julio was at this event with their adorable blue truck, and I was loving all of the octopus dishes.  We got to meet the super cute Bowen's Island owners, the Barbers; they have quite a story and one of the best views around!  I'll definitely be back soon for a bucket of oysters and a Charleston sunset.

Above images c/o Abby Murphy Photography

Above images c/o Abby Murphy Photography

-CHSWFF Goals-

1. Nassau Street Sideshow 

It's like a circus erupted in Charleston at Lewis BBQ- think people on stilts & even some fire. I have no idea what the food situation was at this event, but I don't think I want to miss this spectacle next year!

2. Pinot NV!

Anytime I get a chance to go to the William Aiken house for an event I have a good night.  Drinking my favorite red wine at a pretty Charleston venue? Yes please!

Image by Stacy Howell c/o Charleston Wine + Food

Image by Stacy Howell c/o Charleston Wine + Food

3. Anything with Oak Trees

It sounds like there were some great events off the peninsula, some even offering super cool transportation via vintage bus.  Next year I will be sure to catch something under the oaks or by the water, like Iron & Oak.

photo by Stacy Howell c/o Charleston Wine + Food

photo by Stacy Howell c/o Charleston Wine + Food

The talented Abby Murphy came with me to photograph a lot of the CHSWFF festival, and we can't wait for you to see our Fashion Week collaboration! Follow us on Instagram to see what we are up to at the tents ( @charlestonweekender & @abbymurphyphoto), and check out my Charleston Guide to stay in the know about upcoming local events.


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Woman Crush Wednesday: The Apron Lady

This week I'm woman-crushing on Ellen Marie Bennett, a.k.a. "The Apron Lady", mostly because of her colorful Instagram feed, but also because she's one talented boss lady that is coming to our city for Charleston Wine & Food Festival! It starts today and you don't want to miss it.  Here is a little about Ellen, who I'm hoping to meet during the festival!

Who is The Apron Lady?  I'm Ellen, the Founder and CEO of Hedley & Bennett, the Los Angeles based apron company that I started in 2012 at age 24. I was born and raised in Los Angeles, California but I am half Mexican so I spent a lot of time there too. I was definitely far from an ordinary kid and very independent from a young age after my parents got divorced. I became very interested in cooking and testing out new recipes for my single mom and little sister while growing up. This is when I realized my love for the kitchen and cooking. When I was old enough, I packed up and moved to Mexico City for Culinary School to continue my passion for cooking. After living in Mexico for a few years and graduating I moved back to the states and worked as a line cook at two Los Angeles’ restaurants (Baco Mercat and two-Michelin star rated Providence). I noticed the stale look and poor quality of the aprons I wore daily and I was inspired to make a more functional apron, so I worked with my chef, Josef Centeno of Baco Mercat, to design my first run of aprons for his staff.  That was the official start of Hedley & Bennett!

What are Hedley & Bennett aprons, and why is there so much hype about them? Our mission is to design the world’s best workwear & build a community in the kitchen and beyond. Each fabrication detail has been carefully considered to handle the rigorous daily use experienced in a working kitchen. All our products are handmade from start to finish use only top grade materials such as American canvas, raw Japanese selvage denim and European linens. These unique pieces (aprons, chef coats, chef hats, potholders, napkins and more!) are high quality and built to last. Every apron also features adjustable straps, brass hardware, and well-placed pockets reinforced with bar tacks to avoid ripping. The construction of our aprons came from my own experience in the kitchen and from talking to and listening to what people needed and wanted. The Apron Squad literally grew one member at a time. I started running between restaurants and farmers markets with bags of fabric swatches and apron samples, talking to everyone I could get my hands on about this exciting new idea. We are now in over 4000 restaurants and outfit some of the best chefs and institutions in the world like Delta Airlines, SpaceX, Google, Bon Appetit, Whole Foods, Martha Stewart, Mario Batali, David Chang, Alinea Shake Shack, Curtis Stone and shows on Food Network and Top Chef.

When/where: where can people find you at CHSWFF? Well, we are working really closely with CHSWFF this year so you can find our aprons on all the chefs there as well as in their market place! We are also worn in many Charleston restaurants such as Leon's, Hen and the Goat, Fig, Butcher & the Bee, Callie's Biscuits and more.  You can see me speak at Pecha Kucha on Friday night at The Cigar Factory.  You can also find Ellen via her adorable Instagram at @ellenmariebennett or @hedleyandbennett.  Her website is, and you should watch this clip to learn more about her rags to riches story from her Today Show feature.

Why does making aprons continue to inspire you? When I established Hedley & Bennett, it was born to inspire a sense of dignity and pride in the kitchen. I recognized a recurring pattern in drab kitchen workwear: bland, generic, and essentially disposable uniforms that were completely uninspiring.  I had the vision to make people feel as amazing as the food they prepared. Through the community of culinary professionals, our aprons have turned into a nationwide movement and it fuels me to keep going!

As Ellen mentioned, you can see her speak at Pecha Kucha Friday 3/3 during the Charleston Wine + Food Festival.  Read my last post to see more CHSWFF I recommend attending that are under $100!

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10 CHSWFF Events under $100

I love this list of 10 events under $100 from Charleston Wine + Food's website.  They pretty much covered all of the bases of what I would most recommend that you attend for the Charleston Wine + Food Festival coming up this week.  Here are some details about the top 3 events I'm most excited about attending from that list:

1. Friday Night Fun: Pecha Kucha

My favorite event from last year was Pecha Kucha; an inspiring presentation with plenty of great food and bevs.  This year I'm so excited to see Carrie from Callie's Biscuits & The Apron Lady (Ellen Marie Bennett) speak at this event.  Stay tuned for my next Woman Crush Wednesday post for more about Ellen and her Hedley & Bennet aprons.

2. Saturday Soiree: What the Pho?

They had me at DJ Rehab, one of my favorite DJs in town!  He will be jamming while a dozen chefs will be serving up their versions of Pho and other tasty bites at the Le Creuset Atelier.

3. Sunday Funday: Namaste Bubbly

This is a great value for the yogis out there, because you get wine, food, a class, and a new yoga mat! Some of my favorite healthy food options will be there like Verde & Huriyali, and any party involving Veuve Cliquot is sure to be a fun time!

Be sure to follow me and other members of the Street Team via the hashtag #CHSWFFstreetteam on Instagram!