The Gourmet Seafood and Spirits Festival
Adapting to a global pandemic, this tried-and-true event has incorporated multiple different venues in order to let their guests sip and savor safely. The Gourmet Seafood and Spirits Festival is leaving their old stomping grounds at the Westin, venturing across the river towards some of the finest restaurants Savannah has to offer.
What was previously a crowded food extravaganza at the Westin hotel has been morphed into a curated dining experience. This year the Gourmet Seafood and Spirits Festival, a five-day event running from August 24-28, will feature several venues in an effort to help the struggling restaurant industry. Each event will feature a different charity, and the entire festival will benefit the Savannah Harbor Foundation, including ticket sales. “We’re trying to present this as one of the best ways to experience Savannah,” said Festival Director David Moses. “We took the concepts of that event held only at the hotel and spread it across Savannah.”
Mr. Moses said that there are a number of safety protocols in place to protect the guests, and that he received suggestions from Dr. Lawton Davis, director of the Georgia Coastal Health District. One of the most significant changes has been a reduction in the amount of ticket sales in order to prevent large crowds, resulting in a more exclusive event. The venues will be open and significantly underpopulated, in addition to being flexible for attendees.
The feature experience of the festival will undoubtedly be “The Journey,” a progressive dinner and competition in which festival-goers take their dining passport to any participating restaurants. This progressive diner will last the entire week, so guests can visit each restaurant at their leisure. Each restaurant — including St. Neo’s, La Scala and Cha Bella — will provide a special tapas-style plate and paired cocktail, as well as offering a prix fixe menu. U.S. Foods has provided $500 in credit to each restaurant in order to lessen their operating costs, and attendees will vote on which location had the best pairing for a cash prize of $1000.
In addition to “The Journey,” the first three nights will offer the Roof “Hop” Soiree Series, hosted on luxurious rooftops throughout historic Savannah. Monday night’s Moet Bubbles and Pearls will be at the top of the Drayton Hotel, featuring Moet champagne and oysters from St. Neo’s. In lieu of the canceled Kentucky Derby, Tuesday will be a derby-themed night on the Perry Lane Hotel rooftop with Woodford Reserve mint juleps, where guests can “gamble” on various raffle items. The events will benefit Park Place Outreach and PACK Savannah, respectively. Wednesday, the final night of the Roof “Hop” Soiree Series, will be located on the deck of the Savannah Riverboat, featuring h’ordeuvres and Hendricks gin and tonics.
Lastly, Friday features a family picnic on the lawn of the Kehoe Iron Works, where Zac Brown tribute band 20 Ride will play as guests dine at various food trucks and specialty caterers — enjoying the final day of the festival while social distancing. What’s David Moses’ ultimate goal with the festival? To prevent lines at any point in the event. “I don’t go to Disneyland because I don’t like lines,” he said. “I want to prevent lines from forming anywhere.” The Gourmet Seafood and Spirits Festival will undoubtedly be one of the best ways to experience Savannah’s dining prowess — all while supporting local restaurants and charities.