TerraVita Food & Drink Festival: Its a Must-Do this Fall

Mark your Calendars… it’s all happening October 17-20 in Chapel Hill, NC! TerraVita, a celebration of sustainable Food & Drink , now in its ninth year,  is one of North Carolina’s most extraordinary food festivals.


A year ago I was invited as a member of the media to attend the 2017 Terra Vita Food & Drink Festival.  I had heard about the event for years, but honestly, didn’t really know much about it. What I did know was the caliber of chefs and culinarians – not just from North Carolina, but from all across the southeast – who were involved and I knew it was something I wanted to experience for myself.  Trust your gut they say, and boy, I am ever glad I did. 

Heidi Billotto with Charlotte’s Chef Clark Barlowe from Heirloom at the 2017 TerraVita Festival

I excepted the invitation and  found my little first taste of  the TerraVita experience –  at wild food lunch, the Hill Fire Dinner and day of culinary seminars, a part of the festival’s well-known Sustainable Classroom series –  to be a game changer.

Not only did I get to reconnect with chefs I know well; I also got to know chefs  I had previously admired from afar.  I connected with friends new and old – as you will – who shared their thoughts and beliefs on the importance of  continuing to support and replenish agricultural and aquacultural systems in the world around us, in a way that was not only fun and informative, but delicious as well.

Enjoy the TerraVita magic

Heidi with fellow Charlotte food blogger, longtime TerraVita fan, Ashely Korizis, The Olive and The Sea

TerraVita is a participatory experience with four days of events you will most certainly enjoy. You will not leave unchanged. 

Dinners, served as a buffet  or family-style, bring festival-goers together around the table. TerraVita is all about making  everyone aware, so that each of us, in our own way, will continue to be involved and present for the common good of celebrating sustainable food and drink and the people who help bring it from farm to table.

Heidi With TerraVita Founder, Colleen Minton

TerraVita founder, Colleen Minton explains it best …

” ‘Terra’ means earth and ‘Vita’ means life. TerraVita is all about respecting the earth and engaging in your life is a way that you incorporate sustainability.”

The four day festival of food & drink is not “just an indulgence”, she goes on to explain. Instead, its an event where like minded chefs, artisans, purveyors and food-centric folk can gather, learn and share in the celebration of their love of all that is and can be sustainable. 

You can see all the fun and get a taste of it all in a video recap of last year’s event in the short 4 minute reel here- don’t blink or you might miss my “cameo appearance”! ( if you are watching closely, you will catch me at about the 3:36 mark) – enjoy and let this taste of TerraVita inspire you to learn more.

What (and Who) You’ll Find at TerraVita 2018

Inspired by all I did last year,  I am excited to share all the events you won’t want to miss at TerraVita Fest 2018. It all starts on Wed night Oct 17 with a seated dinner at The Carolina Inn, the annual East Meets West Dinner.  I missed this dinner last year, but am excited to take it all in this year. Served family-style, the evening features lots of local fare, prepared  by a group of eight talented chefs including Charlotte’s own Matthew Krenz from The Asbury ( at this writing a proud new first time Dad) and Ashley Boyd of 300 East. For the complete list of chefs, Tickets and details, use this link and tell them Heidi sent you!

Carla Hall in the TerraVita House


On Thursday, Oct 18, during the day,  Chef and television personality Carla Hall will be ready to make your acquaintance at an advance book signing of her newest cookbook, Carla Hall’s Soul Food: Everyday and Celebration (your very own copy of the book is included in your ticket price for what promises to be a fun Q&A before – or maybe after – the signing takes place!)  I don’t know about you, but I’ve loved Carla since her first appearance on an early season of Top Chef and I cannot wait to meet her, why don’t you plan on joining in on the fun! 

Each Terra Vita venue sets the scene for an intimate event, providing a real opportunity to rub elbows with those who have helped to change our  culinary arena; and I think you’ll find that each opportunity is reasonably priced, making it affordable to attend several over the course of a couple of days.

TerraVita’s Dinner Under the Stars

On Thursday night, plan to enjoy a fun dinner al fresco where a bakers dozen worth of chefs, distillers, and brewers will be cooking with fire! Its all outside under the stars, and is the festival’s signature Hill Fire Dinner. This year chefs, like Charlotte’s own Clark Barlowe of Heirloom restaurant, will pay homage to all that is grown in NC as each dish will feature local produce at the center of the plate ( not everything will be vegetarian, but the veggies will certainly take center stage!). Wander from table to table, meet this talented group of chefs and enjoy a plate (or two) from each of them with a glass of local brew, cider or perhaps something more spirited to toast to this incredible evening of fun! Get your ticket here and I will plan on seeing you there! 

You simply must make plans to attend! Don’t just take my word for it, TerraVita has been nationally named one of the 10 Southern Food Festivals You Need to Taste and one of 4 Can’t Miss Southern Food Festivals

Back to School in TerraVita’s Sustainable Classroom

Aside from the TerraVita dinners, The Sustainable Classroom experiences, provided a chance to learn more about a series of interesting topics from sustainable seafood to crafting local cocktails and more, each session is set up in a small group forum.

This year there are two different “classroom” options that continue to  make TerraVita the one-of-a-kind experience it has become. 


The classic Sustainable Classroom seminars take place at The Cooking School at A Southern Season. each participants attends 4 back to back seminars, each lasting about an hour.

OR, NEW This year, check out the Sustainable Classroom Walking Tour – a tasty exploration of downtown Carrboro and West Franklin Street in Chapel Hill.

TerraVita has earned its reputation as a premier culinary event in the Southeast because of its commitment to the celebration of culinary excellence and sustainability in food and drink. In the process, the festival spotlights award-winning chefs, sommeliers, distillers, baristas, brewers, cookbook authors and other culinary names you know from across the Southeast. Join these food and drink notables for dinners, educational seminars, book signings and workshops as you get to know them and see them in action.

A TerraVita Tribute: The Legacy of Edna Lewis

Each year the TerraVita Food & Drink Festival salutes a person who has made an impact and has influenced the way we talk about food, the way we cook, and the way we eat. This year that person is the legendary Edna Lewis. The great granddaughter of slaves, Edna Lewis paved her own way, singing the praises of Southern cooking to those who thought it less-than. She stood her ground and made her mark at a time when her color and gender made the path a harder one than it would have been otherwise. Among her posts in the cooking world was a stint at the Fearrington House, where I am told, she was the one who introduced chocolate souffle on the menu – we have more to thank Edna for than I ever realized. This tribute and then dinner and discussion that follow are sure to inspire – look for an evening of full of fun stories and delicious fare – if I were you, I wouldn’t miss it!

TerraVita Winds Down with the Annual Fete on the Green

Nothing like a Saturday afternoon  of food and drink to sew up another great week of TerraVita. I’m excited to have one more afternoon to take it all in. Its an event to just kick back and enjoy with a little something for everyone in the family.  Here’s the scoop –  40 chefs you know and love join two dozen beverage producers from across the Carolinas to bid a fond farewell to this year’s TerraVita Festival of Food and Drink. Did I mention there will be bluegrass music, too… Can’t think of a better way to spend a lazy Saturday afternoon – can you?


Everyone will be there – the only thing missing right now is you. Check out the schedule of events as well as the list of talent  – a veritable “who’s who” you’ll meet as they cook at dinners and conduct workshopsMake your reservations today!  I can’t wait to see you there!      #TellThemHeidiSentYou

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