Eat It and Like It: Wise wine lovers will get tickets now for Tybee fest

Originally posted on DoSavannah by: Jesse Blanco

Trying to track down a chef sometimes can be a tall order.

Think about it: Late nights in a tiny kitchen. Hours more after that planning and sorting out the next day. In so many cases, it’s a thankless job. If someone knows who you are and you walk through the dining room one night, someone may say, “Hey chef! Great food!” But otherwise, it’s back into the — most times —windowless hell (based on temperature alone) that most restaurant creatives spend their time. And their spare time.

So I don’t necessarily take it personally when I don’t get an immediate call back or returned email from a chef. Especially Kurtis Schumm, owner and executive chef at both Tybee Island Social Club and Tybee Fish Camp. And in case you are wondering, no, I am not using this forum to call Kurtis out — not at all.

Pinning him down lately was a bit difficult. About 10 days ago, I found out why. Kurtis, I’m told, helped put together the greatest single food event Tybee Island has ever seen. Yes, I know JFK Jr. had his wedding catered in part by The Breakfast Club, but that happened on Cumberland Island. This next foodie extravaganza is going on at the Tybee Wedding Chapel, and you should not miss it.

The Tybee Wine Festival is coming up April 22-26. For seven years, the island as gathered around, eaten some great food and sampled some great wines. The last couple of years, Tybee Island Social Club has hosted some wine dinners that were so popular, they had to be dramatically expanded or have second nights added. That’s how popular the week-long celebration has become.

Not that Tybee Islanders need any real excuse to pour themselves a glass of anything cold, but this week is different. This week is aimed at raising money for renovation and restoration of the Tybee Post Theater. When that project is done, it will seat about 240 people and will be the only facility of its kind on the beach. It’s going to be beautiful, but it takes dollars to pull it off. Hence, the Tybee Wine Festival.

For six years, it has grown and grown and grown. This year, they are throwing a major event. One this city as never seen before. Island, mainland, marsh, tributary, anything. The 2015 Celebration of Earth and Vine has all the makings of a fabulous night of food and drink. Why? Well, I thought you’d never ask.

We’ve made no secret in this space of Savannah’s growing food scene. The names and faces that have chosen to make Savannah their home are the kind that could change the landscape and really put our area on regional and national maps when it comes to the creativity we are seeing in some Savannah kitchens. The mere fact thatThe Grey and Chef Mashama Bailey were named semi-finalists for a James Beard Award will tell you where our food scene is trending. Throw in fantastic offerings from executive chef Kyle Jacovino at The Florence and you have two of the names that are part of the lineup at this dinner.

The other? A Savannah institution: Michael Gottlieb.

The Gottlieb family was synomous with food in the city long before that pretty lady with the white hair put Savannah on the national map. The Gottliebs are making a comeback to Savannah and opening a restaurant downtown. But that’s a story for another day. Michael Gottlieb will be a part of this dinner. Rounding out the lineup, the previously mentioned Schumm, who, along with the guys and gals at Sundae Cafe and 80e Gastropub, are doing the best food on Tybee Island, period.

I should mention that I absolutely love what a lot of chefs do in our city. I’ve heard a good bit of chirping from the locals that all I do is talk up the “shiny new pennies.” But the fact remains, if I had a nickel for every time I’ve sent someone to dinner at Vic’sGaribaldi’sThe Pink HouseSapphire Grill, Noble Fare or Circa 1875, I’d be a very wealthy man today. Those locations are established brands in Savannah. Far beyond anything I could ever write.

Besides, when was the last time any of those chefs were on a lineup together? For the same dinner? Not that I know of. And if they did, I’d be sitting here writing about it.

Getting some of the city’s best young talent on the same roster putting together a four-course wine dinner and raising money for the Tybee Post Theater is a pretty big deal. I can’t begin to tell you how excited I am about it. Absolutely honored to have been asked to be your host for the evening.

I promise, I will be bring at least one funny joke.

There are other events related to Tybee’s Wine Festival, culminating with a wine tasting in the shadow of the lighthouse on April 25. It is some of the best fun you can have on that island, and that is saying something. Admittedly, I haven’t been out there in two years because of my weekend commitments at WSAV, but it isn’t lost on me how much fun that event is. The Earth and Vine dinner on April 22 is the 45th anniversary of the first Earth Day celebration, and the menu will reflect that. When I spoke to event organizer Melissa Turner last week about this, she told me ticket sales were ahead of last year. Not surprising. As you are reading this, I’m guessing they are slowly making their way toward a sellout.

Translation? The event is two weeks away. If you are at all considering being a part of this fantastic evening, I wouldn’t wait. Savannah is a last-minute town, but if you do that here, you will be out of luck.

Tickets are $85 and the event will be in the Grand Ballroom of Tybee Wedding Chapel, simply the most beautiful venue on the island. There is nothing about this event that doesn’t scream “first class.”

Stacye Jarrell will undoubtedly have that room looking like something out of a fairy tale. And you get to sit right in the middle of it. All the chefs will be there, so you don’t have wait on them to return a phone call or an email. For more information, or to purchase your tickets, go to www.tybeewinefestival.com.

See you on TV,

Jesse

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