Highlands Food and Wine Festival kicks off with Grand Tasting

Legendary Chef Louis Osteen honored with scholarship endowment

Connoisseurs of fine cuisine and spirits descended upon Kelsey-Hutchinson Founders Park on Thursday for the Grand Tasting, the opening event for Highlands Food and Wine Festival culinary 4-day weekend.

The scene was energetic inside the large tent set up at Founders Park while The Dip performed on stage cranking out tunes to hundreds while they drank, dined, and celebrated a unified passion for the culinary arts.

Inside the tent of the Grand Tasting, HFW’s kick-off event on Thursday at Kelsey-Hutchinson Founders Park.

But the night was not solely dedicated to highlighting the finer cuisine Highlands has to offer, but also to honor legendary Chef Louis Osteen, who pioneered southern foods in South Carolina and laid the foundation for the restaurant scene in Charleston today.

In addition to culinary options from several area restaurants, libations were also available keeping the party moving right along throughout the night.

Osteen was recognized by HFW Board Member and Old Edwards Inn General Manager Jack Austin who announced a collaboration with the Culinary Institute of America and HFW to set up the Louis Osteen Legacy Scholarship, a $100K endowment fund to exist in perpetuity for aspiring culinary students in the Highlands and Cashiers area.

“Highlands Food and Wine has always had a charitable component, and this festival is not just about Highlands, but the whole southeast,” said Austin. “Louis Osteen was a guiding force of southern cuisine and was the standard bearer for the legitimacy of southern cooking.”

Grand Tasting was chalked full of talented chefs from restaurants throughout Highlands.

Osteen passed away in May of this year, and wife Marlene said having a scholarship fund for up-and-coming culinary students had been a goal of Louis’ for years.

“I can’t tell you how elated and grateful I am for this,” she said. “This has always been his dream of his and he just loved bringing people into the industry.”

A wide-variety of culinary creations were on hand at Grand Tasting, including the sweets pictured above by Chef Oksana Shchelgachova.

HFW began 13 years ago focused on food and has since evolved into the HFW Festival that it is today, highlighting wine and music as well. One of the sponsors of the night’s festivities is Pat Allen, of Pat Allen Realty Group, who said she knew the Festival would continue to grow since it began over a decade ago.

“I’ve believed in this festival since its inception,” said Allen. “And since then, it has grown and exposed people from all over the country who have never been to Highlands to the amazing food, wine, and entertainment we have here. It’s just a big party.”

From left are Julie Osborn and Pat Allen of Pat Allen Realty Group, one of the sponsors of the Grand Tasting on Thursday. Other sponsors include Old Edwards Inn and media sponsor The Laurel Magazine.

To donate to the Louis Osteen Legendary Scholarship click HERE.

Article and photos by Brian O’Shea
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