JONESBOROUGH, Tenn. – As the amber hues of fall descend upon the Appalachians, Northeast Tennessee comes alive with the flavors of its rich heritage. From Sept. 17-24, the "Taste of Tennessee" festival celebrates Appalachian cuisine's essence, blending its historic culinary traditions with contemporary tastes.
The festivities began on Sept. 17 with a mouthwatering journey down Jonesborough's Main Street. Aptly named "Eats on Main Street," this historical and gastronomic voyage featured tastings linked with current establishments and those from yesteryears. Fondue reminiscent of a bygone era and pimento cheese from Lavender’s Market were just two of the many delicacies attendees relished.
However, this wasn't just about tantalizing the taste buds. The festival, in its broader sense, serves a dual purpose. While it brings to the forefront the work of local culinary maestros, farmers, and historians, it also doubles as a significant fundraiser for the Heritage Alliance, furthering its commitment to local hunger-fighting endeavors.
One of the standout events, the "Affrilachian Dinner" with Chef Torrece Gregoire, popularly known as Chef T, drew a significant crowd on Sept. 19. Chef T, with her extensive culinary accolades including appearances on "Hell’s Kitchen" and Food Network’s "Big Restaurant Bet," illuminated the links between African and Appalachian cuisine. Her talk highlighted the melding of these two rich culinary traditions and her personal odyssey in the realm of food.
And for those looking for hands-on experiences, the "Basic Fermenting: Sauerkraut Workshop" on Sept. 20 provided a deep dive into fermentation. This workshop, led by Katie Hoffman, an Appalachian foodways scholar, allowed participants to get their hands dirty, quite literally, as they made their very own batch of sauerkraut.
Cast iron enthusiasts were not left behind. On Sept. 21, a special "Cast Iron Clinic" educated participants on these kitchen staples' care, history, and maintenance.
But the pièce de résistance awaits on Sept. 24 with the Festival Showcase. As the aroma of delectable dishes wafts through the air from various food trucks, live music will set the ambiance in the backdrop of the Jonesborough Public Library. And for those with a sweet tooth, the "Take the Cake" competition promises a delectable showdown between local bakers.
This week-long culinary and cultural fiesta, backed by a grant from the Tennessee Arts Commission, invites everyone to partake in the sensory delight that is the Appalachian spirit. Whether you're a food enthusiast, a historian, or just someone looking for a good time, Northeast Tennessee’s "Taste of Tennessee" Festival is the place to be. After all, the call of the mountains is not just for the ears but for the taste buds, too!
Tickets for the remaining events are quickly selling out. To ensure a spot and savor Appalachia in all its glory, visit jonesborough.com/tickets or call the Visitors Center at 423-753-1010.
About the "Taste of Tennessee" Festival
The Taste of Tennessee Festival is an annual event celebrating the culinary and cultural heritage of Appalachia. Proceeds from the festival support the Heritage Alliance's mission of preserving, educating, and promoting the region’s rich history.