Lift a Fork in Praise to Music To Your Mouth

Korean BBQ Shortrib Tacos from Chef Orchid Paulmeier of One Hot Mama's which is conveniently located on Hilton Head Island. Rich and tasty tacos!

I must admit it had been a while since I had tread the moss-draped – and admittedly quite spectacular – avenue of oaks that leads to Palmetto Bluff. Car parked and off on foot (too nice of a day to take the golf cart shuttle), I rounded a corner as a couple on bikers (of the non-motorized variety) ambled past me – the gentleman is clad in dusty orange (or maybe it was peach?) almost high-water trousers with nautical emblem belt, slightly wrinkled button down shirt and much to my amusement, penny loafers and NO socks; the unofficial state men’s attire of coastal South Carolina. I knew I was in the right place!

But I digress. This event is about food, not fashion so I doubled my pace toward the huge tent; the sweet smells of both familiar and unusual culinary temptations beckoning me with each step. Music To Your Mouth, now in it’s fifth year, is a foodie

As beautiful on the plate as it is in your mouth! Chef Sean Brock's Southern Waygu Beef Tartare with Pickled Ramp and Puffed Tendon.

experience second to none. It’s a veritable ‘who’s who’ of Southern Chefs in attendance, serving up their most deliciously ingenious creations.

From Hilton Head Island’s own Orchid Paulmeier (One Hot Mama’s), Matt Jording (Sage Room) and Bluffton’s Ted Huffman (Bluffton BBQ) to Charleston’s Sean Brock (Husk Restaurant) and Mike Lata (FIG Restaurant) and Atlanta’s Kevin Gillespie (Woodfire Grill) there was no shortage of chef celebrité in the room, well, err… actually the tent.

Music to your Mouth is an experience this foodie will not soon forget. All I had to do was

Here I am with Kevin Gillespie, Chef and Owner of Atlanta's Woodfire Grill. Chef Kevin was a finalist on "Top Chef", was voted the fan favorite on the show and is a redhead like me. Who knew?

show up. The fine folks from Palmetto Bluff handled all the ‘work’. As they put it, “We sample a litany of libations to find the perfect balance of wines, liquors, and beers to satisfy any palate. We comb the area in search of the most talented local and regional artisans.” Mother nature certainly did her part as well – most of it a long, long time ago – by creating such a gorgeous Lowcountry setting. The hosts at Palmetto Bluff along with the chefs, the sponsors, the artisans and the musicians go all out at this event. In the South we call it ‘put’in on the dog’. I call it awesome!

Parmesan and Crab Rissoto Cake, Bacon Buerre Blanc, Truffled Shiitake from Matt Jording of Hilton Head Island's Sage Room. He's a wonderful chef and a nice guy too!

It is also nice to know that a portion of each ticket for Music to Your Mouth goes directly to Second Helpings, a local organization that gathers perishable goods daily from local restaurants, caterers, resorts and grocery stores and deliver the food to approximately 65 local non-profit agencies who assist families and those in need in Beaufort, Jasper and Hampton counties in southeastern South Carolina.

It is impossible to list every culinary masterpiece I sampled (and believe me they were ALL extraordinary) and well, not even the best wordsmithed blog chocked full

Palmetto Bluff is the perfect venue for this event - lovely lowcountry surroundings and southern hospitality!

of adjectives can accurately depict the fresh tastes, the pork rind crackl’n energy and the foodie fun found in attending this event. So I’m posting lots of pics from the day and encouraging you foodies – Lowcountry locals AND visitors alike – to make room on your 2012 calendar for Music To Your Mouth. No doubt you will be happy you did. And, in case you are wondering, no penny loafers required!

Be sure to keep scrolling for more pics from the day!

Chef Orchid and Event Host Gail Simmons up on the demonstration stage. Thank you Gail for reminding everyone (several times) we were in South Carolina, not North Carolina. Gail is a 'Top Chef' judge and foodie bon vivant.








Chef Mike Lata's Butter Pea "Pasta e Fagioli". Chef Mike's restaurant, FIG, is located in Charleston. Chef Mike was the James Beard Award winner in 2009 for Best Chef in the Southeast. He also makes great comfort food as this dish attests - it was my personal favorite of the day!









Firefly Vodka, out of Charleston, SC, was on hand to quench thirsts and pack some punch with their wonderful libations!










Lamb Chorizo, Head-On Shrimp, Rose Fin Potatoes & Meyer Lemon Sauce made for a diverse taste sensation. Creation of Chef Chris Hasting of Hot & Hot Fish Club, Birmingham, AL. Chef Chris spent his childhood summers along the SC coast.











I adored the crispy meringue on the Banana Pudding from Crook's Corner. Good enough to make a run for my mother's banana pudding and well, that's saying a lot!








Crispy and oh so sweet Bacon Macaroons by Chef Nathan Thurston of The Ocean Room, The Sanctuary Hotel, Kiawah Island.





Chef Nathan Thurston took a moment to take a picture with me. Towering live oaks draped in moss make the perfect back drop!









Everyone is having a blast at Music To Your Mouth 2011. Thank you Palmetto Bluff and cheers to all the talented chefs of the south!