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Culinary Experiences in the Carolinas

From Charleston to Asheville, the South Carolina coast to the North Carolina mountains, a new wave of chefs, restaurants and entire destinations are remaking the Carolina culinary landscape. There’s never a shortage of new concepts from hot chefs and top tables at James Beard-lauded locations. Giving your group an experiential adventure in Carolina can open them to a world of food experiences they’d be hard-pressed to find anywhere else.


Chef Alyssa’s Kitchen

Charlotte, North Carolina

As any viewer of “Hell’s Kitchen,” “Top Chef” or “Iron Chef” has learned, the divide between restaurant cooking and home cooking is so large that it seems we should have a different English word for each. Chef Alyssa Gorelick said about when she first explored offering a private cooking school, “I didn’t have a perspective on home cooks, and I don’t think a lot of chefs do.”
“You don’t have two days; you have two hours. And I can’t use an expensive ingredient they can’t buy themselves or ask them to go buy a piece of equipment.”
Before opening Chef Alyssa’s Kitchen, Gorelick ran one of Charlotte’s top kitchens, Fern Flavors From the Garden. Her partner, Andrew Wilen, who had a background in event planning, suggested sharing her unique approach to food in a relaxed space, reminiscent of having friends over for dinner and cooking while drinking wine and listening to music, and their new venture was born.
For private groups, which can range from the typical public class size of 22 on up, Gorelick offers a choice of six seasonal menus, many with an ethnic twist that echoes her public offerings, like Latin street food. The format can include “Iron Chef”-style face-offs, a demo-style experience for larger groups more interested in mingling than cooking and a tapas-style experience where the participants rotate group members after preparing each course together.


No Taste Like Home

Asheville, North Carolina

Foraging may be a big deal in the fine-dining world, but for home cooks, it can just as easily result in a big disaster if the wrong ingredients are used. No Taste Like Home seeks to solve this dilemma by showing their guests the incredible bounty of the Blue Ridge Mountains that is hiding in plain sight.
“We’re in the best place on the continent for biodiversity,” said owner Alan Muskat. “It’s very striking. It’s free food. I started eating that way, and then I realized that I can teach people. There is a spirituality in foraging.”
No two No Taste Like Home tours are ever alike, as Muskat varies the itinerary based on the seasons, what foods are ripe for picking that day and the needs of the group. While there is a standard tour experience that he does with public groups involving education, foraging and a picnic, “the bigger the group, the less standard it is,” Muskat said.
The tasting portion of the foraging tour runs from simple camp stoves in the forest to an “Iron Chef”-style competition to the opportunity to partner with a local fine-dining restaurant to prepare the foraged finds for an evening feast.

Gabi Logan

Gabi Logan is a freelance travel journalist whose work has also appeared in USA TODAY, The Dallas Morning News and Italy Magazine. As she travels more than 100,000 miles each year, she aims to discover the unexpected wonder in every destination.