An Inside Peek at the Shepherd and Friends Chef’s Table at Euphoria
Every September Euphoria shines a spotlight on Greenville, South Carolina. Musician Edwin McCain and restaurateur Carl Sobocinski created the festival as a way to give back to the community in a way that “educates, entices, enlightens, and entertains.” In it’s 13th year the four-day festival drew sold out crowds from near and far to the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains.
There were Michelin dinners with star-lauded chefs, classes on subjects from rosé to cheese, tastings, concerts, meats smoking on Big Green Eggs, whole hogs smoked overnight for a breakfast feast, and a chicken-inspired dinner at a former sawmill. A lucky group listened raptly to chef Jose Andres, founder of World Central Kitchen and Noble Peace Prize nominee, speak on ending world hunger and responding to crisis. Truly an incredible moment.
If we had to pick one stand out event it would be the Shepherd and Friends Chef’s Table hosted by Craig Rogers. Rogers owns Border Springs Farm just north of the North Carolina border at the base of the Blue Ridge Mountains in Patrick Springs, Virginia. He raises grassfed lamb on 60 acres of pastured land. His nickname is Shepherd and he raises his Katahdin sheep with love and care as they graze on grasses with a high sugar content (perennial rye, white and red clover…).
For his intimate gathering (only 20 seats per four seatings) he gathered, as shepherds do, a flock of Southern chefs to show off meat. We sat along a curved grouping of high-top tables close to all the action. We saw the meat come from various grills and smokers. We saw the tweezering of garnishes and important taste elements of each dish. Five courses were presented swiftly, each paired with a Fess Parker Winery and Vineyard selection.
Have you ever had a seamless coursed out meal in less than an hour? This was magic. Rogers is an absolute showman. Here is the rundown.
Chef David McClure of Wessex Hundred in Williamsburg, VA really went for a taste of place. A play on oysters Rockefeller, he fried giant Virginia Cappahosic
oysters and served them with Border Springs lamb bacon made from the cap of the smoked lamb. Micro greens, and a sprinkling of bee pollen completed the taste. Very unique.
Wine: Epiphany Grenache Blanc- “a porch pounder”
Chef Christopher Grossman, who recently left his tenure at Atlanta’s Atlas restaurant, is opening his own place in the former Horseradish Grill in Buckhead. He smoked Blue Ridge trout and topped it with creamy new potato vichyssoise. Slivers of bright green apple added contrast as did the spice of nasturtiums from his home garden. A generous dollop of white sturgeon caviar added a hint of salinity and furthered the creamy situation that ate like potato leek soup you could eat with a fork.
Wine: Ashley’s Santa Rita Chardonnay—beautiful, clean, austere, Chablis like
Chef David Carrier of Certified Burgers and Beverages in St. Simons Island, GA used a wood-fired vertical spit from Sea Island Forge to roast fork tender lamb for lamb shawarma. He rubbed it with a blend of cinnamon, cumin, coriander, cardamom, and turmeric and self-basted as it cooked. Fluffy pita were cooked on embers, imbuing a hint of smoke. Garnish and sauce included butter lettuce, Sungold tomatoes, and dill packed yogurt.
Wine: Big Easy blend of Grenach and Petit Syrah
This was a showstopper from chef Richard Gras of The Grove Park Inn in Asheville, NC. A large cut of lamb first sous vide then rubbed with herbs, cardamom, and mint and charred. It absolutely melted in each bite. We had no knives and we didn’t need them. There were adorable, tiny roasted vegetables, too.
Wine: Sandford and Benedict Pinot Noir
Pastry chef Kaley Laird of Asheville’s Rhubard made a seasonally appropriate (even if the weather wasn’t) malted rye cake with figs, pickled pumpkin, fig jam, and rye crunch. It sat atop candied parsnip cream. Outstanding.
Wine: Santa Barbara Riesling