Our NEWEST event takes off Friday, October 6th!

By Amy Coyne Bredeson

You won’t want to miss Flights & Bites, a new event that is sure to take off at this year’s St. Simons Island Food & Spirits Festival presented by The King and Prince Beach & Golf Resort.

Not only will you get to sample some of the finest cuisine in the Golden Isles inside an airport hangar – (How cool is that?) – you will be dancing to the upbeat sounds of Suzy & The Bird Dogs.

The popular alternative country and rock n’ roll band from Brunswick was voted Elegant Island Living’s best band in the Golden Isles for 2015 and 2016. The band plays some original tunes as well as covers by the Allman Brothers, the Tedeschi Trucks Band, Ryan Adams, Jason Isbell and Wilco.

“It’s just good music to have fun to,” vocalist/keyboardist Beth Fletcher said.

For the past three years, Fletcher, who goes by “Suzy,” and her husband, Erik Fletcher, have performed as Suzy & The Bird Dogs with George Alread, Chris Brown and Stephen May. The band can be seen playing at Palm Coast

Coffee, Tipsy McSway’s, Gnat’s Landing and Mullet Bay Seafood Restaurant. They also do parties, weddings and corporate events. To learn more about Suzy & The Bird Dogs or hire them for your next event, visit www.suzyandthebirddogs.com.

Join us for Flights & Bites from 5:30 to 7:30 pm Friday, October 6, at Golden Isles Aviation, located at McKinnon – St. Simons Island Airport.

“It’s going to be super fun,” Suzy said. “This is an amazing community that we live in. After Irma, the community completely pulled together. It’s amazing just to be around the people here, and the food here is amazing too.”

Longtime friends, Southern Soul Barbeque owners host party for Hospice

By Amy Coyne Bredeson

Harrison Sapp and Griffin Bufkin have been throwing parties together for years. Shortly after graduating from high school, they would host keg parties at Gascoigne Bluff on St. Simons Island.

The co-owners of Southern Soul Barbeque still love bringing folks together for fun, but now they do it for a worthy cause. And there’s barbeque involved, not just beer!

Six years ago, Bufkin and Sapp, who is also the pitmaster for the popular local restaurant, founded the St. Simons Island Food & Spirits Festival, which raises money for Hospice of the Golden Isles.

This year’s 5-day festival will get kicked off at 6 p.m. Thursday, October 5, with Southern Soul Barbeque’s FIREBOX BBQ on the Bluff Invitational, which will take place at the two buddies’ old stomping grounds – Gascoigne Bluff. A group of well-known pitmasters, chefs and farmers will come together for the event, which will be presented by The Local Palate magazine and The King and Prince Beach & Golf Resort.

Tickets to FIREBOX include all food and beverage tastings. Cost is $55 per person for general admission and $100 per person for the exclusive VIP Lounge. Tickets to the VIP Lounge get you a front-row seat to watch The Futurebirds at a family-style table in a catered tent with a private bar. There are only 50 tickets for the lounge. Summer advance tickets are available at a reduced price through August 31.

From noon to 2 p.m. Thursday at the bluff, a group of pitmasters will host a Pitmaster 101 class for barbeque lovers who want to know the secret sauce behind low and slow smoke. Tickets for the class are $45 per person. There is a limited amount of summer advance tickets that will be available for $29 per person through August 31. Visit www.ssifoodandspirits.com to purchase tickets for FIREBOX or Pitmaster 101.

We recently chatted with Southern Soul pitmaster Harrison Sapp, and he shared with us why barbeque is so special to him.

Do you prefer mustard-based or vinegar-based barbeque sauce?

“I like our sweet sauce or the hot sauce, but it all depends on what’s going on. The vinegar sauce is really good on our pulled pork. There’s not much to it – vinegar, salt and pepper.


What are your favorite sides to eat with barbeque?

“I am a cole slaw guy. I like baked beans. Really just the basics. The cole slaw is good for me now because I’m old. A lot of places, you can get it on the sandwich, but I get it on the side. And I put it on the sandwich if I really like it!

What do you like to drink with your barbeque?

 “I drink sweet tea. I don’t drink much of anything else.

Have you always loved barbeque?

“Oh, yeah. I love it. My granddad used to do it, and my dad used to do it when I was coming up. When we used to go to Atlanta, when you had to take the old country roads, before I-16, we’d stop at the barbeque places along the way. That’s where I got the love for barbeque.

What other barbeque-related memories do you have?

“Screen door slamming. That’s one of the things I wish we could have more than anything. They were all basically on screened porches. The screen door slamming – that’s just a Southern sound that you don’t hear anymore. Big, long counters and lots of vinegar sauce.


Are you looking forward to FIREBOX?

“Oh yeah, man! It’s going to be cool. Have you seen the lineup? … It’s going to be awesome. In the ‘80s, we used to throw all our keg parties and bonfires there (at Gascoigne Bluff on St. Simons Island). They’re going to let us throw a big party out there. It’s going to bring me and Griffin back to the good old days. We used to throw parties and make money. Now we’re doing it for Hospice – and throwing a party that people will talk about for a long time.

Why did you decide to raise money for Hospice?

“My granny has been there, and everybody knows people who have been to Hospice. My second mom spent her last few days in Hospice. We’re all going there, whether we’re visiting someone we love or going there ourselves. It really is a good thing.

What’s the secret to delicious barbeque?

“Patience is the main thing. It can take a long time, especially if you get drunk or let the fire go out. (Laughs) People just have fun while they barbeque. It takes a really long time from beginning to end. When you’re doing it at home, you’ve got to get up at 4 a.m. and get the fire started and make it, and do regular life … You’ve got your wife who wants to eat at 6, and it’s not done yet. Patience and having fun. Let it get done.

Last Chance to Get Advanced Summer Discounts Tickets for the 2017 St. Simons Island Food + Spirits Festival

Sixth annual festival offers five days of the finest tastings of coastal cuisine, wine, beer, spirits and entertainment – presented by The King and Prince Beach & Golf Resort, October 4-8, 2017. Enjoy incredible savings on our 2017 events now through August 31, 2017!
Take advantage of the chance to purchase tickets for all the events at the St. Simons Island Food + Spirits Festival for discounted pricing by July 31, 2017. The Festival, presented by The King and Prince Beach & Golf Resort, takes place October 4-8, 2017 in some of the most iconic St. Simons Island locations.

Don’t miss this year’s exciting new events, which include FIREBOX, presented by Southern Soul Barbeque – with the south’s leading Pitmasters and chefs and the new Flights & Bites Friday night soiree at the Gruber Airport Hanger. Advance summer discount tickets for the 2017 St. Simons Island Food + Spirits Festival are on sale here.

For the most-up-to date festival information, tickets, opportunities to volunteer and more visit: ssifoodandspirits.com.

Live Music Line Up Announced for #SSIFoodandSpirits

Live Music Line Up Announced for #SSIFoodandSpirits By: Chelsea Sloan


Young Americans

Young Americans

We’re counting down the days until the 5th annual St. Simons Island Food + Spirits Festival and we are thrilled to welcome some of the best guest musicians to the Golden Isles! Our five day Festival kicks off on Wednesday, October 5th at Southern Soul BBQ where we will be hosting the Southern Soul Barbeque, Bourbon & Beer Pairing followed by the BBQ Pro-Am on Thursday, Oct. 6, 2016 on Rainbow Island, Sea Island where we will be welcoming our first band of musicians, Young Americans!

But, the music doesn’t stop there! Friday, Oct. 7, 2016  Haunted Shed from Athens, GA will keep the music going at the St. Simons Island Pier Village during Pier Crawl & Village Stroll – a night of waterfront strolling, drinks, sweet and savory tasting bites highlighting the local Pier Village shops and restaurants! Not only have we doubled the participation of last year’s Pier Crawl & Village Stroll but in addition, we will be having a “Pier Tasting” tent with a wide variety of beverage tasting stations with wines, spirits and beer! For a list of participating venues and vendors click HERE.

Kick The Robot

Kick The Robot

Following Tastings Under the Oaks, Saturday, Oct. 8, 2016, Gascoigne Bluff will transform into the quintessential coastal fall celebration and welcome Kick the Robot with a special opening from from Twin Reverb to celebrate the Oyster Roast & After Party, presented by Little St. Simons Island!

We will be wrapping up the Festival on Sunday, Oct. 9, 2016 during our SPIRITual Sunday Branch at The King and Prince Beach & Golf Resort where we will re-welcome Twin Reverb! We hope to see you there!

For band bios and photos, please visit our website at ssifoodandspirits.com.

Celebrity Guest Chef Robert Stehling joins us for St. Simons Island Food + Spirits

Robert Stehling, Chef and Owner of Hominy Grill

Robert Stehling, Chef and Owner of Hominy Grill, Charleston, SC

We’re only a few days away until the St. Simons Island Food + Spirits Festival and we are honored to welcome Robert Stehling, 2008 James Beard Foundation award-winning Best Chef of Southeast and Chef and Owner of Hominy Grill of Charleston, SC to the Golden Isles!

A native North Carolinian, Stehling was an art student when he began working as a dishwasher at Crook’s Corner in Chapel Hill, NC. He worked under Bill Neal, the legendary southern chef largely credited with spurring the renaissance of interest in regional foodways. Under Neal’s tutelage,  Stehling rose from washing dishes to head chef of Crook’s.

Stehling then spent several years in New York City cooking in a wide variety of kitchens before moving to Charleston in 1996. His experience in NY combined with his foundation at Crook’s helped him forge a style of cooking that is entirely his own – historically based yet timeless.

Since the opening of Hominy Grill, both the restaurant and Stehling have gained a national reputation for simple unfussy food based upon classic southern recipes.  Stehling and Hominy Grill have been profiled in any number of national food publications including The New York Times, Food & Wine Magazine, Bon Appetit, Esquire, Travel & Leisure and The Times of London to name a few. The restaurant has also been seen on a wide variety of national TV programs including Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations, Rachel Ray’s $40/day, Alton Brown’s Best Thing I Ever Ate and many others.

As a Festival Guest Celebrity Chef, Robert Stehling will be preparing and serving up Chicken Breast stuffed with Smoked Pork Belly, Okra and Carolina Gold Rice Beignets and Geechee Peanut Sauce as his signature dish for Friday’s Festival Feast hosted at our host hotel, The King and Prince Beach & Golf Resort.

Five of the Golden Isles’ most-regarded local chefs will be joining Chef Stehling in preparing four courses and dessert for Friday’s Festival Feast including John Belechak of Palmer’s Village Cafe, Dave Snyder of Halyard Restaurant Group, Tom Delaney of Delaney’s Bistro and Bar, James Flack of ECHO at The King and Prince & Golf Resort and Bill Welch of Sea Island Events.

Chef Stehling will also be bringing his culinary talents to The Local Palate Magazine Cooking Demo Stage at Tastings Under the Oaks, Saturday, Oct. 8 2016 at Gascoigne Bluff. Following Chef Robert’s demo will be Whitney Otawka of Greyfield Inn of Cumberland Island featuring “Oysters & Nicholas Feuillatto Champagne,” and “Ark of Taste on Georgia’s Coast” Guest Author/USC Professor and Slow Food, Southeastern Region Chair, David Shields along with Matthew Raiford and Jovan Sage from The Farmer & The Larder of Brunswick, GA.

Guests from around the coast seek out Chef Stehling’s specialty of finding the gentle balance between of his haute cuisine. Our team wanted to know more what inspires him along with a recipe for festival fans.

What inspired you to become a chef?

I was inspired to become a chef by a man named Bill Neal, he was a chef and cookbook writer who lived in Chapel Hill NC, where he operated Crook’s Corner.  I started as a dishwasher after my freshman year at UNC.  Working in the kitchen was the best part of my day, everybody there had at least one degree and the intellectual life and shared sense of purpose was what I was looking for.  Six years later after managing that kitchen for a year I was off to NYC to learn my craft.

What is your favorite food memory?

In a life dictated to cooking you accumulate a lot memorable food moments.  As a professorial chef you end up relating to food differently than “civilians.”  Food and professional experience become intertwined.  My favorite memory could be the day we did over 1100 people at Hominy Grill, it could be getting a James Beard Award or it could be bacon and potatoes fried over a campfire after a long hike with good company.  For me a great experience is more than just good food.

What do you think is the most challenging ingredient to work with?

The most challenging ingredient I work with is not a food product, I could kill and cook a bear if I had too.  The challenge is in the people.  At Hominy we have 90 employees and serve an average of 600 covers a day, meeting all those expectations and keeping them all happy, everyday, that is the trick.  People are what this job is really about and that is the challenge.

Where did you draw the information from for this recipe?

Pickled Shrimp is a very old recipe or idea.  Before refrigeration pickling was a necessary tool to buy extra time to bring product to market.  Seafood was no exception-shrimp, oysters, fish were all brined or acidified before shipping to upstate markets.  In this recipe old time spices like Turmeric share space with update preparations and ingredients like olive oil and a quick shot of lemon juice.

How does this recipe tie in with your culinary philosophy?

This is exactly the kind of dish Hominy Grill has always strived to do.  To tease out a culturally historic preparation and present it in a modern dish that reflects the way people have come to eat now.  To make traditions into living dishes, part of our everyday lives.






Epic Chef Showdown

Epic Chef Showdown By: Chelsea Sloan

The St. Simons Island Food + Spirits Festival returns to the Golden Isles’ for its 5th annual Festival and this year, there are new and exciting additions you won’t want to miss! Our culinary showdown is the ultimate cooking competition where the top fundraisers earn a spot to compete on the “92.8’ TRUCK” Saturday, Oct. 8, 2016 at Gascoigne Bluff. The four local chefs who raise the most money for our charity of choice, Hospice of the Golden Isles, will showdown in a live TV-styled 30-minute competition and the 2016 Chef Showdown Champion will be judged by our guest celebrity chefs and talent!

Chef Showdown “92.8′ TRUCK”

John Belechak of Palmer’s Village Cafe is returning to this year’s competition and running to reserve his spot to defend his title as the 2015 Chef Showdown Champion. Competing for a spot against Chef John Belechak is David Carrier of Certified Burgers & Beverages, Bethany Fahey of The Westin Jekyll Island, James Flack of ECHO at The King and Prince Beach & Golf Resort, Matthew Raiford of Gilliard Farms and The Farmer and The Larder, Mary Schowe of Ember and Dave Snyder of Halyard Restaurant Group.

Each of the chefs need your help so they can compete in the unforgettable culinary and TV-styled competition! To see your favorite local chef showdown in the competition, make sure to show your support by donating under your chefs name HERE. All donations will go directly to Hospice of the Golden Isles.

We can’t wait for the 2016 competition and we hope to see you there! CLICK to reserve your tickets  today!

Get to know our Board of Directors: Seasoned Leaders, Fresh Ideas

 Get to know our Board of Directors: Seasoned Leaders, Fresh Ideas By: Chelsea Sloan

Meet the President and Vice President of the St. Simons Island Food + Spirits Festival, Dave Snyder and Tomee Sellars!

Festival President, Dave Snyder has been active around St. Simons Island over the past 20 years. From owner and chef of Halyard Restaurant Group to chartering visitors around the Golden Isles’ on his Hooked and Knife Charters, he’s always up to making St. Simons Island a better place for his friends, family and visitors of the Golden Isles!

Vice President, Tomee Sellars joined us on the coast of St. Simons Island 33 years ago from her hometown in Tennessee. From the Sales and Service Manager of the Golden Isles Convention and Visitors Bureau to sitting on the Board and volunteering at many organizations around the Golden Isles’, Tomee is dedicated to supporting her local community.

We wanted to showcase our seasoned leaders who help create and coordinate our culinary and spirits festival, so we interviewed them just for you!


Dave: East Grand Rapids, MI

Tomee: Chattanooga, TN

How long have you lived in the St. Simons area? 

Dave: 20 years

Tomee: 33 years

How long have you been a St. Simons Food + Spirits Festival Board Member? 

Dave: Five years

Tomee: I joined the Board during during the first year, and have enjoyed five years working with so many wonderful people.

What is it about the St. Simons Food + Spirits Festival non-profit mission that really motivates you?

Dave: Hospice of the Golden Isles is the only non-profit hospice in our area.

Tomee: I love volunteering for different organizations, Humane Society of South Coastal Georgia, Grateful Golden Retriever of the Lowcountry and Hospice of the Golden Isles. Sitting on the board is just another way to give back to our community.

What is your favorite event during the Festival?

Dave: The grand Tasting Under the Oaks, so many different things to try at one time.

Tomee: I love of all of events but especially the Pier Crawl & Village Stroll. This is an event that business, locals and visitors can interact as one in the community.  And have a great time exploring the Pier Village.

Tell us about your career.

Dave: I have 32 years in the industry and it has led me to great places and introduced me to some incredible people. Most of my time now is providing our crews the tools they need to do their jobs. I also moonlight as a charter captain.

Tomee: I am the Sales and Service Manager of the Golden Isles Convention & Visitors Bureau, which means I wear many hats. I am the Community Liaison keeping a working relationship within our Community as well as the State.  Sales is very large part of my job, promoting the Golden Isles all over USA as well as internationally. I sit on the Board for the GA Coast Travel Association which allows me to partner with our Coast partners in promoting tourism.

What do you do for fun on St. Simons Island?

Dave: Fish and take my lab, Gustavo, to the beach.

Tomee: Riding my bike, it is a great way to enjoy the beauty of the island and get a little exercise.


Festival President and Vice President

Chef Spotlight: James Flack, Executive Chef of ECHO

Chef Spotlight: James Flack, Executive Chef of ECHO By: Chelsea Sloan

We’re counting down the days until the 5th annual St. Simons Island Food + Spirits Festival and we’re so excited to have James Flack, Executive Chef of ECHO at The King and Prince Beach & Golf Resort participate as one of six chefs in the Friday Festival Feast hosted at our host hotel, The King and Prince Beach & Golf Resort. Continue reading

Ready for the St. Simons Island Food + Spirits Festival? I am!

Ready for the St. Simons Island Food + Spirits Festival? I am! By: Patty Crosby

The countdown is on to the St. Simons Island Food + Spirits Festival and I’m so excited! Not only is it my first Festival, it’s also my first big fundraiser as the new Vice President of Development for Hospice of the Golden Isles. HGI is the charity of choice and I get to be involved in the planning. So, that means I get the ‘inside’ scoop! And, I can tell you this year is going to be bigger and better. How is that possible? Keep reading…

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