Now in its seventh year, TerraVita has cemented itself as a beloved autumn tradition in Chapel Hill. This event – taking place Sept. 28 through Oct. 1 – will include returning stars, new talent, great classes and, of course, lots of delicious food and drinks. When planning the festival, Colleen says, “I try hard to pick people and personalities who are really supportive of the community, always.” The people she chooses to cook, teach classes and honor at TerraVita are “not just great chefs, but they’re great at supporting the other initiatives in their community that relate to food.” We asked Colleen what locally minded events we should look forward to this year… and buy tickets for immediately (they’re going fast, y’all!).
EAST MEETS WEST DINNER
Wednesday, Sept. 28
Started six years ago, this dinner is an annual favorite, and it sets the tone for the whole event. “[The dinner] started with two chefs,” says Colleen, “one from the eastern part of the state and one from the western. It’s evolved into nine chefs from across the state, and each one makes a dish that represents either their region or what their favorite food is to elevate, cook and prepare. Then we integrate them all. They collaborate, and it is just such a lovely vibe. It’s kind of like a kumbaya for the chefs; they love it, and it is also a great representation of what our state has to offer.”
A CAROLINA FOOD SUMMIT
Wednesday and Thursday, Sept. 28-29
New this year, the summit is the result of a partnership between TerraVita, EducationNC, the UNC Food For All campaign and the Triangle-based Jamie Kirk Hahn Foundation. “We are always trying to figure out how to make [the festival] more engaging to different audiences,” Colleen says about this new two-day feature aimed at empowering the community to discuss food issues from hunger and policy to sustainability. Don’t miss the State of North Carolina Foodways with Marcie Cohen Ferris.
THE SUSTAINABLE CLASSROOM
Friday, Sept. 30
The heart and soul of TerraVita, Colleen admits the classroom portion that combines workshops, tastings, demos and discussion is “probably the reason I do this whole festival.” She’s most passionate about offering rich, multifaceted programming to her audiences and loves watching chefs and industry experts come together to collaborate. Of her eight classes this year, Colleen is most excited about the ones diving into the world of heirloom plants, ethical meats and the culture and heritage behind Southern food, all taught by heavy hitters such as Vivian Howard, Craig LeHoullier and Toni Tipton-Martin.
HILL FIRE: PITS, SPITS & GRILLS DINNER
Friday, Sept. 30
Held at the Carrboro Town Commons, this dinner features “basically all men and women who love to play with fire,” Colleen says. Chefs come in from across the Southeast, and this year will include Sam Jones from Winterville, chef Jeremiah Bacon from Charleston among others.
GRAND TASTING ON THE GREEN
Saturday, Oct. 1
Save room for samples from 40 chefs that pair with more than 120 sustainably produced beverages at Southern Village. New this year is the artisan tent that will feel like a “festive farmers’ market on the front end,” says Colleen. Expect a dozen or so participants including a knife craftsman and food purveyors offering bread, pasta sauces and more, which is a great way to bring home your favorite bites.
BONUS: DEEP RUN ROOTS DINNER
Thursday, Sept. 29
Sadly, this event celebrating chef Vivian Howard from Chef & the Farmer in Kinston and her PBS show “A Chef’s Life” sold out in July, but it is still worth noting for the special relationship the star shares with the festival. Vivian’s been a participant since the beginning and since her cookbook drops the week after, she’ll be the toast of the evening. Five chefs – including Crook’s Corner’s Bill Smith – will be putting their own spin on her dishes.