Springtime in Charlotte never leaves a void for things to do and this weekend is no exception, with lots of food and drink-centric events happening all weekend long! In this post, I offer a little sprinkle of sugar to your Saturday, with the story of Sweet Escapes, an annual event, I’ve wanted to write about for some time.
Sweet Escapes is a sweet and savory chocolate-themed affair to take place on Saturday evening May 19 at 7 pm. Sweet Escapes is a celebration of chocolate turned fund-raising extravaganza created in support of a local Charlotte organization called Community Link.
The mission for Community Link is founded around the dedication to help secure and sustain safe, decent and affordable housing for all. It may be surprising for you to learn that, according to resources at Community Link, some 40% of the members of our community’s work force are struggling to make a go of it – be it in renting decent and safe property or in trying to purchase a home of their own.
Sometimes everyone needs a helping hand and for many individual and families in in 25 counties in North Carolina and one county in South Carolina, the programs at Community Link have helped to make that connection. Last year’s Sweet Escapes event raised over $150,000 and this year chefs are hoping to help raise even more for a cause that, when you get right down to it, affects us all.
Tickets for the Sweet Escapes event are $100 per person. Your chocolate-laden get away includes chocolate desserts as well as chocolate-based savory bites from a team of Charlotte’s best chefs and pastry chefs.
Together these talented chefs have crafted over 500 pounds of Callebaut chocolate, donated to the cause by the well-known, chocolate company, into a spread you are going to love.
In addition to oh so chocolatey eats, Sweet Escapers can also expect a special hand crafted welcome cocktails, beer & wine, live music, live and silent auctions and more! Thanks to the generosity of all of the participating chefs and vendors, all proceeds from the evening will go to benefit the important work and services of the Community Link programming.
Just a few tickets for the Saturday May 19 event remain – purchase yours right here and now. The sweet and savory evening starts at 7 pm at the Mint Museum on Randolph Road. Sweet Escapes was started seven years ago – several board members of Community Link came up with the concept and then turned to Pastry Chef and Chocolatier for Callebaut chocolate, Geoff Blount to recruit chefs and organize the event. Following in his footsteps, Charlotte Pastry Chef Ashley Boyd of 300 East restaurant in Charlotte is now in charge of organizing, fine tuning and gathering chefs to participate. She is doing an incredible job as is evidenced by the line up of culinary talent – including Blount who continues to participate in the event he helped to get off the ground.
In addition to Boyd and Blount, at the event expect to rub elbows with chefs and pastry chefs and talk to them about their creations as you taste.
Pastry Chef Noelle Gogg of The Ballantyne Hotel sets the stage as she is creating the stunning chocolate showpiece that will welcome guests to Sweet Escapes as you walk through the doors… Once you are inside, Here is just a taste of what you can expect on your Sweet Escapes adventure.
These chefs are all bringing their A games and personally, I love that they are all working with local farms and ingredients as well as the delicious Callebaut chocolate for their Sweet Escapes creations!
Miranda Brown of The Asbury at the Dunhill Hotel will be serving her Matcha & White Chocolate Crema with Black Tea & Honey, garnished with Micro Sorrel from Lucky Leaf Gardens in Harrisburg, NC. While Pastry Chef Jossie Lukacik of her own company, Sweet Affairs will be serving her Caramelized White Chocolate & Peanut Crunch Cake.
Brigitte Oger, owner and creator at Craft Cakes be working with Middle Ground Farm on a Milk Chocolate & Banana dessert; and chef Gabija Vecci of La Piccola Gabbia is partnering with Nise’s Herbs in Locust, NC to bring you a Strawberry, Basil & White Chocolate Choux!
Chef Samantha Allen, Pastry chef and owner of her own company, Wentworth & Fenn is partnering with Brown Creek Creamery in Wadesboro, NC for the Sweet Escapes event. Her dish: Serrano Chocolate Cremeux with Dark Chocolate Shortbread, Zesty Lime Curd, Coconut Milk Coulis, & Almond Praline Crumble!
And, William Logan of Carolina Artisan Bread will feature Blue Goat Dairy of Vale, NC to create his dish a Brownie with Goat’s Milk Caramel, Bourbon & Raspberry!
Jennifer Cubillos Young will be on hand at the Sweet Escapes event as well, creating fun and magic for all as event goers experience her interactive dessert art; While Jennifer’s other half, Chef Chris Young of Queen City Market has teamed up with Carolina Craft Butchery LLC in Davidson, NC for his Spring Vegetable Spaetzle with House Cured Pork Belly and Cacao Nib Brown Butter!
Continuing on with the savory side of things, look for Chef Greg Collier of The Yolk in Rock Hill, SC who will partner with The Farm at Flat Creek in Heath Springs, SC to bring guests a Harissa Smoked Chicken Fritter, Coffee Aioli, Petite Green Salad with Cocoa Sherry Vinaigrette & Toasted Hazelnut – Chicken Skin Crumble!
Chef Chris Coleman of Stoke at the Marriott Center City, recently featured in my NC Beef post, is partnering with James Swofford of The Chef’s Farmer and other NC growers to bring a Cheerwine-Mole Chicken Thigh, Farm & Sparrow Heirloom Cornmeal Spoonbread, Orange & Pecan Gremolata, Radish & Petite Herbs!
Chef Phillip Platoni of Southminster Retirement Community will be using local from Norht and South Carolina as he features Foggy Mountain Pasta, Barbee Farms strawberries & Clemson Bleu cheese in his savory dish for the evening.
And finally, Chef Terra Ciotta of The Art Institute of Charlotte is partnering with 3 area growers and artisans – High Mountain Farm in West Jefferson, NC, Tega Hills Farm in Fort Mill, SC, and Uno Alla Volta in Charlotte – to bring you her Three Sisters Chili with Chocolate Glazed Short Rib, Cornbread Croutons, & White Chocolate-Avocado Crema.
This is an event not to be missed and if you do, be sure to put it on your radar for next year. In the meantime, go and see all of these talented chefs at their shops and restaurants and places of business to enjoy what they all do so well.
And be sure to #TellThemHeidiSentYou