Certain Southern cities come to mind when you’re having a discussion about great places for food. Whether it’s the Creole flavors of New Orleans or the Lowcountry cuisine of Charleston, South Carolina, it’s easy to rattle off a couple of culinary destination to go and indulge one’s stomach. One place you might not think of, though, is right up the road from Charleston: Greenville, South Carolina.
Don’t believe us? Esquire has called the town in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains the “Next Big Food City” and Forbes ranked it one of the country’s best downtowns. Still need more proof? Good, because we’ve got it. Case in point: the annual Euphoria food festival in downtown Greenville that has, over the last 11 years, become one of the best fests in the South. This year, Euphoria will take over the town between September 21-24.
Founded in 2004 by Greenville native (and platinum-selling musician) Edwin McCain and restaurateur Carl Sobocinski, Euphoria’s aim was simple: to showcase the growing stable of culinary talent in Greenville and the surrounding area (and to raise money for charity while doing it).
“My initial goals were to raise awareness and money for local Greenville nonprofits. The unexpected result is that Euphoria has become a showcase for Greenville itself,” McCain says of the beginning years.
In the first years, a mix of lunches, dinners, classes, and other fun events allowed festival-goers to experience the best of the best in just a few short days. The fest grew quickly (from 4,300 attendees to 7,500 anticipated in 2017), and the list of star chefs has grown to match. Guests have included people such as Guy Savoy, Thomas Keller, Sean Brock, Frank Stitt, and Bryan Voltaggio, among many others.
This year, over 80 chefs and culinary professionals will show off their skills at more than 30 different events, including some of the hallmarks like Taste of the Trail on Friday and Feast by the Field on Saturday.
Want to learn something? Classes this year include Pre-Prohibition Speakeasy Cocktails, Liqueur and Chocolate Pairings, and a class on the backbone of every good Southern breakfast ever: the biscuit. If you need something to do while you digest, Euphoria shows off the cultural side of the city too. Musical performances include Edwin McCain, Tim Nichols, the Brooks Dixon Band, and more.
Basically, Euphoria makes it impossible to go home hungry and unhappy. You’d have to try hard after all the goodness that’s packed into those four days. Dare we say that going to the festival would induce a bit of … euphoria?
(Yeah, we went there.)
If you had to wipe the saliva from your chin (like we had to when we read the lineup of great food for this year’s festival), it’s time to get your tickets. Many events are already sold out, but you can see what is still available here.