There’s a new food and wine festival in Charlotte, and it’s already starting to draw crowds, four months before it starts.
The BayHaven Food & Wine Festival, which kicks off October 22, will be a celebration of black culinary traditions featuring more than 75 chefs, farmers, brewers, winemakers, distillers and other artisans all converging at Charlotte’s Camp North End.
Tickets just went on sale last week and more than 100 people got ticket packages – some up to $ 900 – in just the first four days, said Subrina Collier, who runs the BayHaven Restaurant. Group with her husband, Chef Gregory Collier. And some of those buyers plan to travel from other states.
“It was bigger than I could have imagined,” Subrina Collier said this week.
The festival is inspired by the Harlem Renaissance and aims to highlight black creativity and provide opportunities for hospitality professionals.
“It is very important for us to spotlight black talent,” said Subrina Collier. “And then you go further: black women, we are heavily neglected in the hotel industry.”
Black women, she says, are underrepresented in leadership positions in the food and hospitality industries, especially as chefs and managers of gourmet restaurants. This is something the New York Times reported just this year, referring to a 2017 National Restaurant Association report that showed black workers made up 12% of restaurant workers but less than 10% of chefs and a recent study by the nonprofit Restaurant Opportunities Centers United which found it particularly difficult for black women to obtain managerial positions.
The Colliers were acclaimed for their restaurant Leah & Louise in Charlotte and their former restaurant The Yolk, which opened in Rock Hill, SC in 2012 before moving to upscale neighborhoods. Greg Collier was a two-time semi-finalist for the James Beard Foundation’s Restaurant and Chef Awards and Subrinia Collier was the 2020 Female Entrepreneurial Leadership Laureate at the Foundation. They are both on President Biden’s Small Business and Entrepreneur Advisory Council.
The duo formed BayHaven Restaurant Group earlier this year – the name is a play about the two neighborhoods in Memphis, Tennessee, where they grew up – with the intention of opening more restaurants in Charlotte soon.
And the Collars say they are hosting the festival not only to bring a big, new annual event to Charlotte, but to show young people what can be accomplished.
“Growing up, we didn’t have a lot of role models to follow, and we know how important that is,” said Subrina Collier. “If we had seen certain things, maybe it could have gone faster for us, or maybe some things could have been different. I’m happy with how they turned out now; I wouldn’t change them. But if we can make the trip a little easier for other people, even just give them some hope… that’s why we do what we do – besides really enjoying it.
So far, BayHaven Food & Wine Festival attendees include talent from the Charlotte area like Whitney Thomas of the Grand Bohemian, Lindsay Williams of Davidson Wine Co., Michael Bowling of Hot Box Next Level Kitchen, and Greg Williams and Jamie Barnes. by What The Fries. There will also be “Top Chef” stars like Tiffany Derry, Chris Scott and Keith Rhodes and nationally acclaimed chefs like Todd Richards of Atlanta, Ashleigh Shanti of Asheville and Duane Nutter of Mobile, Alabama.
The three-day festival will take place on the 76-acre Camp North End campus, which is also home to Leah & Louise. Subrina Collier says they wanted to offer something in a central location rather than moving people around to different parts of the city. Additionally, Camp North End has indoor options if the weather doesn’t cooperate.
The festival begins on Friday October 22 with the Chuckwagon Family Carnival. This event, which has a $ 10 entry fee for adults, has a Ferris wheel and will feature food trucks owned by Blacks from Charlotte and area. The evening will continue with the Black Stork Dinner for adults 21 and older, a more expensive multi-course dinner that honors artist and civil rights activist Josephine Baker.
The 21+ theme persists for the rest of the weekend, with paid events including tasting tents with food and drink samples and the eight-course Harlem Nights dinner on Saturday and Sunday brunch. featuring a jazz ensemble and the Front Porch Pig Pickin ‘to close things off. There are also options to purchase chef-led classes and attend an art summit with food, painting, and music.
And BayHaven is not yet done adding to the lineup and announcing attendees.
The idea of the festival, in one form or another, has been around for a long time. Subrina Collier says that growing up in Memphis, she took note of the city’s cultural food festivals. There was a Greek food festival and an Italian food festival, and it made him want to create something similar for black culinary artists.
Now she has – and she predicts this year’s festival will only be the first in a long series.
Still, Subrina Collier says she doesn’t want to congratulate herself until it’s all over. Right now she is just too focused on getting it all done.
“When it’s over this Sunday night,” she said, “when we’re done with the pig picking, I can really give you my opinion on that. “
You can find more information on bayhavenfoodandwine.com.