Artisphere showcases local culinary arts

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photo by Will Crooks

The 11th annual three-day Artisphere celebration of the arts isn’t limited to the visual and performing disciplines.

“Visual arts are the lead character with performing and culinary playing supporting roles,” says Kerry Murphy, executive director of Artisphere.

Murphy says the goal of the festival held May 11-13 is to expose patrons to as many art forms as possible, and culinary plays a key role in that.

“It’s a unique experience to celebrate the arts in all forms,” she says.

The culinary arts will be on display at The Culinary Arts Cafe + Stage at East Broad Street downtown with a curated selection of local restaurants and live music all three days.

The eight main food providers include returning restaurants The Trappe Door, Barley’s, Larkin’s on the River, Cantina 76, Greenville County Schools Career Centers, Mimi’s Steakhouse of Japan, and for the first time, Chicken Salad Chick and Bacon Bros. Public House. Funneldelicious will also be providing treats in the children’s area.

“We are adamant about keeping it local restaurants,” Murphy says.

As part of her job, Murphy travels to multiple arts festivals around the country — Houston, Portland, Kansas City, Miami, and more — and she’s noticed that while they don’t exclude local vendors, there’s a large representation of traveling fair-food-type vendors on the culinary side.

“If you’re a visitor traveling to an arts show, you don’t get a taste of the area,” she says.

In order to give Artisphere visitors that local experience, the participating restaurants are carefully chosen, and they’re also encouraged to showcase dishes that represent their restaurants the best, Murphy says.

To make it even more worth their while, a $500 cash prize will be awarded to the restaurant whose dish is judged “Best in Show” by a group of visiting journalists.

Here’s a sampling of what to expect this weekend:

Bacon Bros. Public House

Boiled Peanuts, Bacon Caramel Popcorn, Pulled Pork Sandwich

“We are excited to be a part of Artisphere this year for the first time,” says chef Anthony Gray. “This month marks our five-year anniversary, so Jason [Callaway, COO] and I felt like it would be a good fit for us. We are not normally involved with the downtown events, but we want to make a statement this year and support our city.

We chose three items to serve this year, all of which represent the restaurant and can show the folks who have not made it out to B.B. yet what they have been missing. We think all of these are great festival-style foods and represent what we do.”

Cantina 76

Roasted Chicken Taco, BBQ Brisket Taco, Smoked Pork Taco, Veggie Taco, Chips and Salsa (single serving), Iced Tea

“We are very excited about participating with Artisphere again this year,” says Craig Wyatt, partner. “Last year was our first year, and we thoroughly enjoyed both participating in and attending the festival. We chose our menu items this year … primarily because they are some of our customers’ favorite tacos and they provide a nice variety of flavors. These tacos also showcase some of our local vendors, including Amick Farms and Brookwood Farms.”

Larkin’s on the River

Chicken Salad with Pita Wedges, Parmesan Truffle Chips, Pimento Cheese Short Rib Slider, Sriracha Bacon Mac n Cheese, Strawberry Lemonade, Sweet Tea

“Larkin’s Catering Events chooses menu items for the culinary that can be found in our restaurants and events,” says Kristina Murphy, vice president of catering and events. “Being part of this festival is so important for Larkin’s to showcase what we do. Our partnership with Artisphere has been wonderful this year. We were proud to be a sponsor for the poster reveal party and looking forward to preparing a special themed menu for the opening night gala.”

Greenville County Career Centers

Pulled Pork Taco with Corn Salsa and Slaw, Ceviche, Elote (Mexican Street Corn), Tres Leches Cake, Hibiscus Tea, Horchata

“A couple of years back, I was looking for a way to get my students real-world experience as well as get [the] word out into the community about our program,” says Drew Archer, culinary arts instructor, Donaldson Career Center. “Artisphere was a good fit because they have already partnered with Greenville County School District by showcasing students’ work. Our menu this year stems, in part, from the corn-themed menu we did last year. The two biggest sellers last year [were] our pulled pork taco with corn salsa and the elote, Mexican street corn. Based on those items doing so well and the fact that they won us ‘Best in Show,’ we decided to cater the menu to those items. So, this year our menu is Tex-Mex themed. Like I mentioned before, this event gives students loads of real-world experience. They are involved with the menu planning, costing, cooking, and set up and tear down. The students have a lot of fun with this event. In fact, we have way more students volunteer to work than we actually need.”


Visit artisphere.org/culinary-arts/ for the full menu offerings from each restaurant. The Culinary Arts Café will be open during festival hours: May 11, noon-8 p.m.; May 12: 10 a.m.-8 p.m.; and May 13: 11 a.m.-6 p.m.

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