photos by Heath Clark

Saturdays at Euphoria are not for the faint of heart, er, liver.

Beginning with the media breakfast at 9:30 a.m. hosted by Roost and chef Daniel Dobbs, the biscuits, chocolate gravy, and mimosas were flowing. Thankfully, there was also coffee for the visiting media and chefs who may have over-indulged during Taste by the South and the VIP after party the night before.

Then after a brief 30-minute intermission, it was off to Feast by the Field, a literal smorgasbord spanning the corner of South Main and Markley streets and the Fluor Field deck. Cooking demos, almost any kind of wine and liquor, and everything from fresh-shucked oysters from Darling Oyster Bar to red velvet waffles from Stewart Penick’s Terrace were up for all-you-can-eat grabs.

The Kudu open grill played a major roll in this year’s festival for the first time, including at demo tents, like the one where Chattanooga’s chef Erik Niel grilled up 48-hour sous vide short ribs on a stick. Basically, it was a perfect beef popsicle.

Meanwhile, several smaller classroom events were taking place throughout the afternoon, such as Something to Wine About – Tour Italy in 6 Glasses with TV personality, comedienne, and sommelier Laurie Forster. She declared the class a no-PC zone, and after six half pours of wines, most of the guests were on the same level. No pretention here.

Just up Main Street at On the Roxx, hand-crafted chocolates were paired with Remy Martin 1738 cognacs in the Sweet Dreams Are Made of These – Liqueur & Chocolate Pairings class led by LaRue Fine Chocolate owner Elizabeth McDaniel. And these were not your typical milk chocolates. For instance, one tasty bite was crafted from figs soaked in cognac with goat cheese and Bee Well honey in a dark chocolate shell with walnuts.

The highlight of the night, and arguably the entire weekend, was the inaugural Big Easy Bash held at Trailblazer Park in Travelers Rest. It was full-on sensory overload in the best way, from the authentic N’awlins-style Soda City Brass Band marching through the crowd, to the BBQ shrimp and red beans and rice from Restaurant 17’s chef Nick Graves, the Muffuletta from Grits & Groceries’ Heidi Trull, Kevin Belton’s and Joe Trull’s beignets and pralines, James Beard Award winner chef Kevin Nashan’s blue crab pot pie, the show-stopping, bottomless low-country boil, and Tariq Hanna’s All Things Nola pastries for dessert.

The Txotx cider barrel action was a crowd-pleaser, with guests holding their cups and sometimes their open mouths under the stream of Spanish cider to catch a few ounces before it hit the ground.

And once again, guests were slow to leave the party, but with Sunday’s brunch looming only 12 hours later, the break from indulging would prove to be absolutely necessary.

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