The Southern Agenda
Goings-on in the South & Beyond
GOING WHOLE HOG
There’s never a shortage of parties in New Orleans—balls, galas, soirees, banquets, you name it. But Southern foodies are marking their calendars for May 28. That’s when the folks with Cochon555 head to the Crescent City for an all-out pork throwdown.
The ten-city culinary competition promotes sustainable farming of heritage-breed pigs by connecting small family farms to passionate chefs and eager eaters. The event brings together five chefs, five farms, and five wineries. Each chef, hand-selected by founder Brady Lowe, is challenged to prepare a tasting menu created from a specified breed of pig—nose to tail. “Zero waste is what it’s all about, utilizing everything,” Lowe says. Think beignets fried in pork fat and sugar-cured bacon.
Top chefs from across the South will compete, including James Beard Award winners Mike Lata and John Currence. But keep your eye on NOLA resident Erick Loos. He’s only twenty-six and already the chef de cuisine at John Besh’s La Provence. Old-school butchers will also compete in a carving contest, with prime cuts raffled to guests. Spareribs as door prizes? Now that’s our kind of party. cochon555.com
Only in the SEC can a scrimmage draw a crowd, particularly at Auburn and Alabama—the last two national champs. When the schools host their annual A-Day spring games (April 16), fans come out in droves to see how their squads are shaping up. Last year the folks in Tuscaloosa nearly filled their hundred-thousand-seat stadium. It’s always a good party (after all, this is the SEC), but the best part is that at both Bryant-Denny and Jordan-Hare, tickets are first come, first served, which means you don’t have to be a season-ticket holder or know somebody who knows somebody to get an up-close look at the action. rolltide.com; auburntigers.cstv.com
After fifteen years in the business, Greg Thompson knows a thing or two about art, especially the Southern kind. “I might be biased, but I think we have some of the best artists right here,” says the owner of Greg Thompson Fine Art in North Little Rock. The region’s wealth of talent inspired him to organize the inaugural Best of the South exhibition (May 19–July 9). The lineup is a who’s who of Southern artists, past and present, with works from the likes of William Dunlap, Glennray Tutor, and Theora Hamblett. If you’re a beginning collector, it’s one of the year’s best opportunities to get up to speed. Happy hunting. gregthompsonfineart.com
Hard to beat dinner and a movie, except for maybe dinner and 150 movies. That’s the idea behind the Florida Film Festival (April 8–17), which celebrates both film and food. Organized by the people at Enzian, Orlando’s popular art-house theater, the festival brings in A-list culinary stars and Hollywood bigwigs (Oliver Stone, Anthony Bourdain, and Drew Barrymore are all alums). There’s plenty of local flavor as well, from a laid-back fish fry at the Black Hammock to dinner at the Ritz with award-winning chef Norman Van Aken. Marking its twentieth anniversary this year, the festival will also present a curated collection of the best Florida-themed films of all time (including The Yearling, based on the novel by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings). Snag a ticket to the opening-night bash to rub forks with the stars, culinary and Californian. floridafilmfestival.com