We’re honored to be working with some of the finest wine and food talent in our region—and the nation!

2024 Headliner

Vivian Howard

Vivian Howard is an award-winning cookbook author, TV personality, chef, and restaurateur. Her first cookbook, Deep Run Roots: Stories & Recipes from My Corner of the South (2016), is a New York Times bestseller and was named “Cookbook of the Year” by the International Association of Culinary Professionals.
vivian howard 2024 headliner

2024 Winery Headliner

Matt Brain

Winemaker Matt Brain, possessing a master’s degree in biosciences and a background in process engineering, brings naturalist philosophies and highly technical abilities to winemaking at Alpha Omega where he began as Associate Winemaker. Matt’s passion for the environment benefits Alpha Omega, where the land and winery are both Napa Green certified and the Vineyard Management team practices sustainable farming.

Barrett Spiegel
Director of Key Clients at Alpha Omega Winery

Barrett Spiegel is a Virtual Ambassador at Alpha Omega Winery, a premier Napa Valley winery whose mission is to create artisanal wines drawing on Old World vineyard handcrafted practices and emphasizing unique terroir-driven characteristics that reveal a sense of place combined with New World technology.
Alpha Omega

Chef Thomas

Chef Thomas is the only chef from the Pee Dee Region selected by Governor Nikki Haley for the inaugural team of SC Chef Ambassadors. Cooper obtained the Bachelor of Science in Food and Beverage Administration from the Johnson & Wales Culinary Program and the Bachelor of Arts in Communications from College of Charleston. His love of simple food with a “fancy” edge is evidence of his devotion to innovation and his joyful approach to food. Cooper lives in Florence with his wife, Paige, and their two children.


Will Altman

Will Altman is a farmer and miller in Florence, South Carolina, creating uniquely delicious foods from stone ground heirloom grains. Will has been involved in growing and creating food for over a decade, including raising and selling pork, beef, lamb, and more to some of the finest restaurants in the Southeast. Five years ago, he transitioned from raising livestock to growing grains by launching Altman Farm and Mill, which uses sustainable farming practices as well as traditional stone milling techniques to produce the finest heirloom products available.

Altman Farm and Mill’s Buttermilk Pancake and Waffle Mix was named one of three finalists for Garden & Gun Magazine’s Made in the South Awards in the highly-contested Food category.

Reginald Ashley
Reginald “Reggie” Ashley has worked in the food and beverage industry in Florence for numerous years, in kitchens such as Town Hall, the Country Club of South Carolina, and the Oakdale Country Club. Since September 2021, he has been Sous Chef at Wholly Smokin’ Downtown. He enjoys playing pool, watching sporting events and visiting different restaurants while traveling.

Betsy Biggs

Born in California of Mexican parentage, Betsy moved to Florence in 1997. Early on she worked toward a career in healthcare, but quickly realized that was not for her. The pivotal moment that led Betsy to become the Pastry Chef that she is today was when she haphazardly offered to bake a wedding cake for a friend—and they took her up on it. Her husband gifted her a Wilton Cake Decorating class and from there it snowballed

She started as a beginner at Icing Ink, then the regular baker at SC Real Foods. Betsy has been with Victors since 2018. She is extremely proud of the restaurant and her junior staff. All that she has accomplished so far has been a dream (although a cute little bakery with fancy desserts would be *chefs kiss*). With the addition of Notch8 Catering to the fold, Betsy has been the creative backbone for petite sweet treats!

Be it a gorgeous 3-tiered cake or delectable pastries; Betsy is truly irreplaceable and a vital fixture at Victors and Notch8


Jeremy and Katherine Yurek

West Florence High graduate Katherine Turner met Colorado native Jeremy Yurek in Nashville, where they attended Belmont College. After graduating, they moved back to Jeremy’s hometown of Aurora, and for four years ran Baba & Pops, a food truck that turned the Denver area on to scratch-made, authentic Polish pierogi.

In March of 2020, they opened their first brick-and-mortar in Aurora, Baba & Pops Pierogi Kitchen & Bar, which fast became a favorite for its traditional Polish comfort foods and 50-ounce Bloody Marys. But the Yureks always knew they wanted to open a restaurant in Katherine’s hometown, and in July 2022 they opened Buddy’s on West Palmetto, and instantly earned a loyal following for their crispy-edged burgers, bean burgers, fish sandwiches and salads, their homemade “steak chips”—a new American classic that’s a cross between a steak fry and a potato chip—and their boozy shakes! @buddysflorence


Ryan Dalton (Executive Chef)

Born and raised in the Northern suburbs of Chicago, Chef Ryan’s father, John, started his passion for food at a very young age. After working many restaurant jobs around Chicago, he attended the International Culinary School, formally the Illinois Institute of Art.

After school, Chef Ryan continued to work at local restaurants while he travelled throughout the South on a competitive barbeque team, sparking his interest and love for Southern Cuisine. After relocating to Florence, South Carolina, Ryan found his way to Town Hall where he quickly worked his way to Executive Chef.

Chef Ryan says it is his pleasure to serve the community that has so openly welcomed him and looks forwards to raising a family in the South.


Doug Smith

As a restaurant consultant for the past twenty-five years, I have had the opportunity to work with some awesome food producers that I’m blessed to call friends. I began working at the City Center Farmers Market at the beginning of 2020 focusing on Certified South Carolina Products such as Blue Moon Specialty Foods out of Spartanburg. These items are made using all natural ingredients, sauces and spice blends. Coffee Cabana out of Columbia and Low Country Olive Oil out of Charleston produce high quality certified SC products which we are excited to partner with. I wanted to share my passion for outstanding food with my neighbors in Florence. Frankly, if I don’t love it, I simply won’t sell it.

I don’t love it, I simply won’t sell it. Check out VIP Magazine for my monthly food article and recipes. You can also find me on The Pizzeria & Enzo Show podcast that I regularly co-host.


Dennis Fraley

Dennis resides in Florence, SC and works as a Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA) by day and a wine and spirits expert by night. Through the Wine and Spirits Education Trust, Dennis completed the coveted WSET Diploma of Wine and Spirits also gaining the Certified Specialist of Wine (CSW) designation, French Wine Scholar (FWS), Certified Sherry Wine Specialist (CSWS) and most recently Certified Wine Judge (CWJ). The content driven “The Bottle Talk” website ( and social media presence (@thebottletalk) have grown out of the two ”The Bottle Talk” columns he authors for The Florence Morning news ( and The Post and Courier (

Wilson Lui

International Culinary Institute of Myrtle Beach

Florence native Wilson Lui developed a love for the culinary arts at a young age while working at his family's restaurant, The House of Louie. Chef Lui's dedication to his craft and passion for cooking led him to become an accomplished chef and educator. He currently teaches at the International Culinary Institute of Myrtle Beach, sharing his extensive knowledge and experience with Asian cuisine and helping new students develop essential kitchen skills and work ethic needed for success in the culinary field. Chef Lui stays up-to-date with emerging trends and techniques in the culinary industry through his active involvement in events and competitions, and his dedication to ongoing learning serves as an inspiration to students, emphasizing the significance of lifelong learning in the culinary field.

Additionally, Chef Lui is an accomplished gardener and often shares his harvest with colleagues and students. His expertise, passion, and dedication to teaching have helped shape the careers of numerous students, and he continues to inspire future generations of chefs.


Sherrie Hughes

Legacy Juice

I began juicing about 14 years ago, when I saw a Jack LaLanne infomercial where he put an apple into a juicer and made apple juice. Immediately I knew this was the route for better health for me. I was tired of drinking unhealthy beverages that did not have real benefits and started looking for healthy juices. A friend of mine gave me her ginger juice recipe and I enjoyed the taste and decided to tweak her recipe. I never once thought about selling my juice until 2 friends tried my ginger juice in 2019.

They both loved it and asked how much I would charge to make a gallon. I've always wanted to have my own business and I decided to test mine at the farmers market. I became a vendor at the City Center Farmers Market and I sold out quickly on my first day. Since then, I've added Ginger Pineapple, Iced Lemon Tamarind, Melonnaire Mint and Hibiscus Elderberry. Legacy Juice was born and has been thriving ever since. I'm currently working on developing other flavors.


Damon Kight

I’m a self-taught cook who started exploring different techniques of BBQ and cooking around seven years ago. The passion grew, and in 2019 I founded Backporch BBQ to compete a local competitions. I have placed in three out of five competitions entered, and it led me to create an Instagram page, @backporch_bbq, to show off my creations to others. Cooking is fun for me, the smell of the smoke and the heat from the flames is calming. In the future I hope to continue to increase my knowledge of BBQ and cooking with the hopes of catering more events and winning more competitions.


Andrena Mullins
Chef and Owner

LilJazZis was established in 2017 following a vending service named after my 3 daughters Lily, Jasmine, and Zion! LilJazZis focus is serving fresh food to our wonderful community, offering breakfast all day and lunch!


Matthew Peavy

With over 15 years of experience in some of the most prestigious establishments in the Charleston area, he has honed his skills as a chef and has become an expert in the art of southern cuisine and Barbeque. His passion for cooking is reflected in his favorite dish to eat, rice and hash, which he prepares with the utmost care and precision.

In addition to his culinary expertise, he also finds joy in mentoring and educating the next generation of cooks. He has trained numerous aspiring chefs and imparted his knowledge and skills to help them excel in the industry.


Ray Isle

Travel + Leisure

Ray Isle is the Executive Wine Editor of Food & Wine and the Wine & Spirits Editor for Travel + Leisure. He writes Food & Wine's monthly “Bottle Service” column, and contributes regular print and online features about wine, spirits, and wine-related travel to both brands.

His articles about wine, beer, food and spirits have appeared in a wide range of national publications, he has been nominated three times for a James Beard Award, and has twice won the IACP Award for Narrative Beverage Writing. He speaks regularly on wine at live events and is a frequent guest on national media, having appeared on programs such as Today, CNBC’s On the Money & Squawk Box, NPR’s “All Things Considered,” and American Public Media’s “Splendid Table,” among others. Follow his wine exploits on twitter @islewine and on Instagram @rayisle.


Donna O. Crockett and Catherine Gude

Donna is the head chef and managing partner at Osbornes Special Events and Catering in downtown Florence. She and her sisters, Terrie Snowden Parker and Pamela Osborne, opened Osbornes in 2001; and since the retirements of both Terrie and Pam, Donna has assumed full responsibility for the day-to-day operations. Her daughter, Catherine Gude, joined her in business in 2021.

Donna, Catherine, and their dedicated staff attend to every detail to ensure that each event is a memorable one. Osbornes offers in-house catering at a beautifully decorated building at 265 Warley Street, as well as off-site catering at a client’s desired location. Guests lists from 10 to 500 people can be accommodated and the menu selections are large and varied, from Italian cuisine to Mexican street food to old fashion, Southern grandma cooking. Every menu is developed with the client’s input and all food is prepared so as to surpass the client’s expectations.


Warren Snell
Chef and Owner

Warren traces his culinary ambitions to the age of 14, when he first began working at a popular local restaurant, Club 44, in Smithfield, Rhode Island. His four years there allowed him to gain intimate knowledge of high-end New England cuisine. He took this knowledge back down to his birthplace, Beaufort County, in the South Carolina Lowcountry, where he was fortunate to work under renowned local chefs, Roger Keyes and Ove Muller, at Alexander’s in Hilton Head. With their help and encouragement, he apprenticed to other globally diverse chefs and further refined his culinary talents.

After a 10-year stint as Executive Chef at Fitzgerald's Restaurant in Hilton Head, Warren and his wife, Fran, teamed up to open the fine-dining seafood restaurant, Sinclair’s, in Camden, South Carolina. This experience and ambition in the food industry led Warren and Fran to their current ventures in Florence: Julia Belle’s, Coast Line Cafe, and The Farmer’s Market Barn & Grill. They love to serve customers delicious food at their restaurants and to do their part in contributing to a thriving community.

Sam Tinsley

As a fourth generation Florentine and Francis Marion University graduate, Sam Tinsley, along with his wife, Alissa, are proud to raise the fifth generation in such a special hometown. During his college years, while working at Apple Annie’s, Sam honed a unique skill set that helped him guide his patrons’ beverage selections to enhance their meal and their enjoyment of the evening. For 10 years, Sam has represented Advintage Distributing of Charleston. His success in this field has given him opportunities for growth by traveling to learn from premiere producers and vintners both domestically and internationally.

Sam has dedicated his professional career to sharing this expertise in a pragmatic way allowing consumers at all levels to experience quality beverages from around the world. He is most at home presenting wherever people are interested in great wine, spirits and craft beers. He appreciates his association with Florence Wine and Food since its beginning and looks forward to being a part of the growth of the region’s premiere celebration of wine and cuisine.


Shelby Tumbleson
Chef de Cuisine

Shelby is originally from New York; she moved to Florence in 2017. Her lifelong love for cooking began with fond memories of watching cooking shows with her father and grandmother. She knew at a young age what she wanted most; to make people happy with the meal she has prepared. Her journey started in 2011 as a US Army Food Service Specialist. She then went on to graduate at the top of her class in Culinary Arts and Winery Management in 2016. Her career as a chef got its start at Emeril’s Orlando in 2016. By 2017 she made her way to Townhall (Florence, SC) and in 2018 found her way to Victors. She will be celebrating her 4th year at Victors and has blossomed into an amazing fine dining chef.

She is a proud ACF Culinary competitor, and her dream is to one day be nominated for a James Beard Award. Shelby is one of the few female chefs in our region and she is a force to behold. With her fighting spirit you can see the passion in her eyes with every meticulous detail she puts into a dish. Her skills and leadership are treasured at Victors.


Consuela Casey

Chef and owner Consuela Casey is a jack of all trades. For 10 years she owned and operated a salon in Dillon SC before relocating to New York City to pursue a career in entertainment. After studying production, she went on to become a talent agent. Being a talent agent led her to music where she went on to artist development and talent booking. During this time, she was able to work with some of the biggest artists and booked them all over the country. When client engagements became more demanding, Consuelo decided to invest in a bistro as a way to entertain her clients; this is where she was able to develop and share her culinary skills.

Consuela purchased the building in Florence SC which is now QultureBistro. Her original plans were to hire an executive chef, but she ended up being the Chef and now people are raving about the cuisine at Qulture. Qulture’s Cuisine is American with an alternative twist.


Thomas Sims
Grill Master

Chef Thomas Sims has worked the grill station at Town Hall restaurant since the very first day it opened, in 2016! Chef Sims is at the beating heart of Town Hall, which is its wood-fired grill. The only thing he enjoys more than serving his guests is spending time with his family.


Kevin Getzewich

IRHG Culinary Director of Independent Concepts

A Philadelphia native, Getzewich made his way to the South–to its regional, coastal cuisine, warm hospitality, and one of the country’s favorite food destinations–Charleston, SC, by way of an extensive culinary journey. Chef Getzewich grew up cooking and eating with his Polish grandmother, spending his days learning to make Pierogis, Kielbasa, and Galumpkis. He graduated from The Restaurant School of Walnut Hill College with a degree in culinary arts and began working his way through renowned kitchens across the northeast, learning under the tutelage of such chefs as Eric Ripert and Jennifer Carroll.

Getzewich moved to Charleston in 2012, and quickly joining the city’s prominent food scene as Sous Chef at Two Boroughs Larder with fellow Philadelphia native and James Beard Award nominee Josh Keeler. In 2014, he joined The Indigo Road Hospitality Group as Sous Chef of The Macintosh and eventually Executive Chef at Indaco. Getzewich briefly left Indigo Road to open notable downtown restaurant One Broad, before returning to the group in 2020 to become Executive Chef of The Kingstide, then rising to Culinary Director of Independent Concepts.

Chef Getzewich is proud of his relationship with local and regional fisheries, farmers, and purveyors and encourages his teams to showcase The Lowcountry’s bounty through fresh, clean, and ingredient-driven cuisine. When Getzewich is not in the kitchen, he enjoys golfing and spending time with his Mini Dachshund and Chihuahua, Hoagie and Basil.

Kevin Getzewich Photo

Elizabeth Walters

Elizabeth Walters holds an A.A.S degree from Horry-Georgetown Technical College, majoring in Culinary Arts Technology & Baking and Pastry Arts. She was a Chef de Partie Pâtisserie for the Fowler Dining room at Horry-Georgetown Technical College, where she was actively involved with students, overseeing the Pâtissier Station. Chef Walters demonstrated to the students how to prepare desserts that were served to the public. Currently, Chef Walters focuses on teaching students about storeroom purchasing. In the past, she participated and achieved medals in ACF Competitions and National Jeunes Chefs Rôtisseurs Competition. Throughout her teachings, Chef Walters instills her strong work ethic and a keen eye for details in her students. Chef Walters is the owner of her own cookie business called MaSkeeters, specializing in beautiful sugar cookies.
Elizabeth Walters

Marvin James and Ranny Starnes

Founders Ranny Starnes and Marvin James had the vision of bringing their love of artisan chocolate and gelato to the Florence area. Their chocolate journey began at Dolce Vita, a chocolate and wine-tasting room in Florence, SC. Marvin and Ranny are both graduates of Ecole Chocolat, a professional chocolate school. Marvin studied in Belgium and received his Master Chocolatier certification in 2013. During her time at Dolce Vita, Ranny fell in love with the art of chocolate. The artist in her wanted to take their skills to the next level. She began creating hand-painted artisan bonbons that are truly works of art. She received her professional chocolatier certification in 2020 and Chocobella opened in downtown Florence in November 2020. Chocobella offers a variety of bonbons and chocolate bars made from fine Belgian chocolate as well as artisan gelato.


Jon Flowers and Maria Mitropoulos

Growing up, Maria worked in George’s, the family restaurant her immigrant parents, George and Angie Mitropoulos, had founded in 1981. After college, she put her restaurant-industry talents to work for Mellow Mushroom and Victors, earning six Wine Spectator Awards of Excellence. Jon grew up in Darlington, graduated from Trinity Collegiate and The Citadel, and spent six years after college working for The Cheesecake Factory and learning to love the restaurant industry. In 2020, when Maria’s parents were ready to sell their life’s work, he wanted to be the buyer! George and Angie sold the restaurant to Jon and Maria, and for the last three years, they've been staying true to the traditions of the last four decades, while making perfect little additions to the menu!


Jakita Parrot

Seminar Brewing, located just outside of downtown Florence SC, was born from a love of gathering, brewing, and sharing ideas. At the very first Seminar our owners created a space to gather together and share their love of homebrewing with friends and family. Coming together frequently allowed a familial feel where all the guests felt comfortable throwing around ideas of what grain, yeast, and hops to use for the perfect combination of flavors in that week’s brew. Since brewing is an iterative process there were winners and losers in those early days, but today Seminar puts our best recipes on the menu for you to enjoy! Seminar aims to provide more than just a wonderful premium beer.

We have built a fully stocked kitchen and retained an excellent Chef, Jakita Parrott. We have a wonderful and flavorful base menu and we offer weekly and monthly specials to spice things up! We are located on Lucas St in an old warehouse building where we have created ample room to gather with friends, family, and colleagues and to continue the tradition that our owners started 10 years ago. We believe the best way to spend time and share ideas with friends and family is over a hand crafted beer and delicious food!

Chef Parrott starting cooking with her grandmother in Florence at the age of five, and what started as a way of bonding with her grandmother became a passion. She’s cooked ever since, but began cooking professionally at the age of 17, and has been working in the hospitality industry in Florence for 27 years. She’s most proud of the cooking she’s done in the year she’s been with Seminar, which she says has given her the opportunity to explore her love of the culinary arts in fresh and creative ways.

Jakita Parrot - Seminar Brewing

Dr. Howard Conyers

Backyard Distillery LLC

Dr. Howard Conyers is a rocket scientist, educator, pitmaster, content creator, and historian of special topics related to rural southern life black farmers, barbecue, and bootlegging. Dr. Conyers was raised on his family farm in Paxville (outside of Manning), SC where he was the recipient of oral traditions. Dr. Conyers is known for cooking whole hog barbecue, but he one of very few pitmasters in the country to BBQ a whole cow. In 2023, Dr. Conyers was inducted into the Duke University Few-Glasson Alumni Honor Society. Dr. Conyers founded the Gumbo Jubilee Awards to recognize individuals doing amazing work in food and beverage from farm to table. In 2022, Dr. Conyers created the National Black BBQ hall of fame to grow the recognition of long overlooked contributions of black bbq. He was a former host and co-producer of the PBS Digital Series Show Nourish. Dr. Conyers was recognized as a 2018 Southern Living Southerner of the Year, a Bronze Telly Award Winner, and a Webby nominee. Finally, Dr. Conyers is working on Backyard Distillery LLC on his family’s farm to help maintain the agricultural legacy.

Howard Conyers

Dave Smoke McCluskey


Mohawk Chef and Miller Dave Smoke McCluskey has been involved with food in one facet or another since just before his teens and is currently the owner of Corn Mafia, a small-batch hominy company that makes Hominy Grits, Corn Meals, Flour/Masa, and whole hominy. Recently added are a line of quick breakfast items referred to as Mushes, Longhouse Strawberry Mush being the star. Chef McCluskey lectures and travels extensively teaching Native Foodways. He is a founding member of the North American Indigenous Center of New York’s Food Sovereignty Initiative, which helps educate natives about the richness of our foodways and how we can add them back to our diets. A man of many toques, McCluskey also has a book in the works about these native foods and foodways. McCluskey plants a variety of indigenous corn strains, including Haudenosaunee, Six National Blue, and Mohawk Blue in Edgefield County, where McCluskey lives with his family Lynnette, Finn, and Sugar Bear, in North Augusta.


Javier Uriarte


Peruvian-born Javier Uriarte moved with his family to Maryland when he was a teenager, and first worked as a chef in college to pay the bills, but says he only learned to love cooking after moving to South Carolina in 2014. He has been a chef in the kitchens of Columbia restaurants such as Motor Supply Co. Bistro and Cola’s and became Executive Chef at Hendrix. He opened Ratio in Elgin in 2020, realizing his dream of owning a tapas restaurant inspired by Peruvian flavors and techniques, along with South Carolina ingredients and influences. In January 2024, he was named a South Carolina Chef Ambassador by South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster, and will spend the coming year traveling the nation with fellow SC Chef Ambassadors Leslie Rohland and Michael Sibert, to spread the word about the Palmetto State’s food culture and CertifiedSC ingredients.

Tommy Bolger

From the very first order-ticket Florence native Tommy Bolger wrote for a soup-and-sandwich at Benton’s Cork and Cheese Board in the late 1980s, he was hooked on the town’s food and beverage community. And since then, Bolger has worked almost every job in it, including front- and back-of-house positions at Florence favorites like Apple Annie’s and Bonneau’s, and founding the late, lamented Loopy’s, a spot where you might find the Pee Dee Pride’s hockey players tucking into platters of wings and beers next to a couple toasting their 25th anniversary with prime rib and cabernet. Back in the pre-cellphone days, Bolger even created a local food delivery service On-the-Double, a proto-Uber Eats!

More recently, Bolger founded Lula’s Coffee Co., which he sold in 2018 to focus on culinary ventures including Batch Nine Coffee Company, the roastery he founded to provide the community with locally roasted coffees from around the world. He opened F.E. Pops restaurant and coffee shop at 5 Points in 2020, serving honest southern cuisine that locals love. This is Bolger’s third year presenting a Batch 9 Coffee tasting station for the Florence Wine & Food Festival.


Marvin Ross

Peculiar Pig Farm

Marvin C. Ross, the dedicated owner of Peculiar Pig Farm, embodies a passion for preserving heritage farming practices and fostering community ties. Raised on the fertile soil of Dorchester County, South Carolina, Ross was introduced to the rhythms of farming at a tender age by his grandfather, Thomas Henry Ross. From feeding his first pig at seven to returning to the family land after college, Ross's journey was marked by an unwavering commitment to his agricultural roots. In 2009, he established Peculiar Pig Farm, drawing inspiration from the distinctive traits of the hogs he once tended with his grandfather. Today, Ross's farm stands as a testament to his reverence for the land and its inhabitants, supplying discerning customers across the region with unparalleled pork products renowned for their exceptional flavor and quality.

Marvin Ross - Peculiar Pig Farm

William Schofield

Carolina SupplyHouse/Traeger Grills

Growing up in Florence, William Schofield spent a ton of time in his family’s restaurants—The Heritage Restaurant and Inn, Charlie’s Drive-In, and The Beef and Bacon. But he never learned to cook anything other than biscuits and fried chicken until eight years ago, when he bought himself his first wood-pellet grill to sell at Carolina SupplyHouse, his family's hardware store where he serves as Vice-President. Since then, he’s learned to smoke *everything* in sight, especially for large crowds, cooking annually for the Carolina Gamecocks football team, and Carolina SupplyHouse has become Florence County’s only Platinum Dealer of Traeger Grills. A U.S. Navy Veteran, Schofield was elected Chairman of Florence County Council in January 2024. He lives in Florence with his wife, Caroline, a member of the Programming Committee of the Florence Wine and Food Festival, and their four children.


Elliott Moss

Velvet Moss Welding, Moss and Moore Barbecue

Florence native Elliott Moss began his illustrious career in food started right here in the kitchens of Stefano’s—and all three Chick-Fil-A locations in town at the time. In 2007, Moss moved to Asheville to join the opening team of the acclaimed restaurant The Admiral, where he earned his first James Beard Award nomination for Best Chef Southeast in 2013. In 2015, Moss joined forces with Meherwan Irani to open Buxton Hall, a tribute of sorts to the mom-and-pop ‘cue joints of Florence that nurtured his appreciation for the art of smoke. As co-owner and pitmaster of Buxton Hall, Moss earned national acclaim including another James Beard nomination for ‘Best Chef Southeast’ in 2017, a spot on Southern Living’s Best Restaurants list, a ‘Top 10 Best New Restaurants’ designation from Bon Appetit, and features in Food & Wine, Garden & Gun and The Washington Post. In 2016, he released his first cookbook, The Book of Smoke, an ode to the no-rules framework of next-generation BBQ, an exploration of regional flavors, and a guide to unorthodox BBQ joint-inspired dishes and sides. Moss currently runs Velvet Moss, fabricating “The Priscilla,” a stainless-steel hibachi-style smoker and grill designed to be a timeless legacy piece, and he pops up in cities and at festivals across the nation as Moss & Moore Barbecue.

Katie Skeen

Palmetto Bakeshop

Katie Skeen is the owner and pastry chef at Palmetto Bakeshop in Florence, South Carolina, bringing a blend of passion, creativity, and European flair to her bakeshop near Five Points in Florence. She started years ago baking for her family of five and blossomed with the pandemic induced shutdowns. Her desire to find a way to cope led to a deep learning about laminated pastries and traditional European methods, with online classes taught by chefs who were also dealing with lockdowns. She opened Palmetto Bakeshop June 8, 2023, quietly serving those that found out about it through word of mouth and the bakeshop’s social channels. The goal was quality first. Still only open 3 days a week, it’s not uncommon to have a line around the building or a sold-out sign on the door. She focuses on croissants, cruffins, danishes, morning buns, macarons, and more all made fresh in house daily. Her passion to serve a quality product sourced with local ingredients and delight her customers with an amazing experience, is shown by her following.


Michael Sibert

White Wine & Butter

Greenwood, SC native Michael Sibert, a Cornell and Culinary Institute of the Carolinas alumnus, has been a chef at local high-end establishments for over a decade. He’s worked with Michelin-starred chefs, pit-masters, and had extensive training with world-renowned chefs in New Orleans. A decade-long search for knowledge, along with passion, hard work, and the family recipes his wife gifted him as a wedding present, White Wine & Butter Catering was born. Bringing the first Black Chef-Owned concept to Downtown Greer, Chef Michael shares Cajun & Creole flavors with guests through his catering company and restaurant White Wine & Butter. In July, 2023 Chef Michael added a smashburger concept, "Anonymous Burgers", to the list of options in Greer's Cartwright Food Hall. The quirky concept has been a huge hit with Upstate burger fans. He followed this up the same month with an appearance on Food Network’s Guy’s Grocery Games, and celebrating the birth of his baby boy. In January 2024, he was named a South Carolina Chef Ambassador by South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster, and will spend the coming year traveling the nation with fellow SC Chef Ambassadors Leslie Rohland and Javier Uriarte, to spread the word about the Palmetto State’s food culture and CertifiedSC ingredients.

Michael Sibert

Billy McBride and Stephen Thompson

Local Motive Brewing Company

Local Motive Brewing Company grew out of the garage-based home-brewing project of Florence neighbors Stephen Thompson and Billy McBride. In 2016, they put together a business plan to professionalize their passion for craft beer and in 2017 opened Local Motive, a brewpub in downtown Florence whose name conjures the town’s origins as a railroad terminal. Local Motive opened with a mission to expand the tent and take the pretense out of the craft beer scene, by focusing on the flavors and the fun of bringing people together. Its house brewing style is to avoid the rigidity of “flagship” beers, and instead to explore and play with flavors, and to be open to collaborations with other brewers and farmers, and including local harvests like strawberries and peaches and home-grown fresh herbs like basil and mint in their beer recipes. Local Motive closed their downtown location during the pandemic of 2020, then in 2021 moved to a site on West Palmetto Street behind Naturally Outdoors, with a direct connection to Florence’s Rail Trail and with a large deck and plenty of green grass where they host oyster roasts, live music and trivia nights, and Thai Local, their new food collaboration with local Asian-food specialist, Chef Taw Htoo.

Billy McBride and Stephen Thompson

Chef Taw Htoo

Thai Local and King Jefe

Most people in Florence know Chef Taw Htoo as the master-talent behind the sushi artisty at King Jefe, Shug’s Steakhouse, and the Pamplico Highway Food Lion. Htoo was born in Burma, fled political violence when he was young, and spent time in refugee camps in Thailand. He emigrated to the United States in 2010, found work in Minnesota and Indiana, but it was in Louisiana he perfected the art of sushi, mentored by a Japanese chef with whom he worked for three years. Chef Taw later moved to Charlotte, then to Columbia, where he worked for a Thai restaurant. Chef Taw’s newest venture, Thai Local, located at Local Motive Brewing Company, takes inspiration from his time living in Thailand and working in Thai restaurants. This will be Chef Htoo’s second year presenting at the Grand Tasting: in 2023, he served mini poke bowls from the King Jefe food truck. This year he’ll be presenting something very special from Thai Local at The Grand Tasting, and sushi from King Jefe for Sip+Savor Wine Stroll.

Chef Taw Htoo

Mel and David Brown

Bean Bar

Scottish-born David and Argentinian-born Mel first met in New York's Jefferson Valley Mall, where they were both managing retail stores (he: PacSun; she: Delia’s). She was a design major, he had a degree in culinary arts, and they soon found themselves working in the food industry, working for Mel’s father’s seafood importing business, marketing South American fish and shellfish to large North American foodservice companies and restaurant groups like Darden.

In 2010, David and Mel moved to Florence, where Mel’s parents had retired, and realized, after managing other people’s businesses, they were ready to grow something of their own. They had a passion for top-quality coffee: the science and mechanics of espresso, and the rush of watching someone take a sip and say: Wow, this is good! In 2017, they started Bean Bar as a pop-up inside Naturally Outdoors, and found they loved it. In 2020, they moved into their own brick and mortar space next-door to Naturally Outdoors, with the aim of making a visit to Bean Bar a whole experience: a bright, lofty space with warm, welcoming customer service, delicious espresso drinks, and locally baked treats. This is David and Mel’s second year providing a pop-up Bean Bar at Florence Wine & Food Festival’s media breakfast!

Mel and David Brown
Michelle Pilliod Martin

Out in Left Field Catering & The Dugout Food Truck

Michele Martin always loved food. As a child, she was never afraid to try anything. Now, she’s never afraid to cook anything! She started cooking in the food service industry in 1983 and hasn't looked back since: restaurants to cafeterias to catering. In 2011, she started her own business, taking over cafeteria foodservice at Sonoco, and it has been wide-open crazy ever since. Her newest adventure is her food truck—The Dugout—which will be hitting the streets in the next couple of weeks. She also runs a café in the Looky Loo Vintage & Boutique Mall in Hartsville serving homemade soups, fresh-made sandwiches and salads, and homemade sweets. This is Michele’s first time presenting at the Florence Wine & Food Festival! And she’ll be presenting across three events: Out in Left Field Catering will present a tasting station at Meat & Meander and also at a stop on the Sip + Savor Wine Stroll. Her Dugout Food Truck will be debuting with a tasting station at The Grand Tasting!

Michelle Pilliod Martin

Alan Cooke

Rebel Pie Wood-Fired Pizza

A native of Myrtle Beach, Alan Cooke has been a baker in the pizza business for 30 years. A graduate of USC, Alan became a Certified Baker with the Retail Bakers of America and apprenticed for six years with a second-generation Certified Master Baker. He has served six years on the Board of Directors for Southeasters Retail Bakers Association and two years as President. In 2012, Alan founded Rebel Pie with the motto: “Defy Ordinary,” and since then Rebel Pie has won “Best of the Pee Dee” award in Pizza every single year. Rebel Pie has also twice been named Best Pizza in South Carolina in nationwide “Fifty States, Fifty Pizzas” features—in 2015 by, and in 2016 by Alan enjoys spending time with his wife, cooking, woodworking, fishing, and premium cigars. This is Rebel Pie's second time participating in the Florence Wine & Food Festival!

Alan Cooke

Brenda and Oscar Ponce

El Agave

Brenda and Oscar Ponce along with Brenda’s dad and brother opened El Agave in Downtown Florence in September of 2018, serving delicious Mexican food, from ceviches and nachos to burritos and tacos to chimichangas and enchiladas, and many more regional specialties. Before they opened El Agave, the Perez family had opened Mi Tierra San Jose, their restaurant on Celebration Boulevard, which first opened in October 2005 and will celebrate 20 years serving excellent Mexican food to Florence residents next year! This is El Agave's third year participating in the Florence Wine and Food Festival!

Brenda and Oscar Ponce

Jack, John, Patrick, and Zack Holt

Holt Bros. BBQ

The Holt Family restaurant legacy began four decades ago in a parking lot with nothing but a barrel, hammer, chisel, and a dream to create something that would live on in the hearts of a community, and eventually, be the foundation for generations of family to come. In 1979, Jack Holt started his own BBQ stand in the parking lot of his father-in-law’s business. Young and ambitious, Jack’s little venture was just the beginning, and although Jack sold his bbq start-up, he held fast to his heirlooms. Those family secrets are now the cherished sauces that have made Holt Brothers BBQ a taste extravaganza that keeps a community coming back again and again. For Jack along with three of his sons, John, Patrick and Zack, Holt Bros BBQ isn’t just a restaurant, it is a place where people come to sit at the Holt’s family table. The family takes pride in not just greeting, but truly getting to know everyone who walks through the door. And although the concept of Holt Bros BBQ is based on fast, casual food, the preparation of it is anything but fast or casual. They put their soul into their soulful Southern BBQ, and take great care to ensure that everything leaving their kitchen does so fresh, hot and homemade. Each menu item is designed and created to instill a different emotion in the guests that come to sit at their table. The traditional old South vinegar BBQ sauce is the foundation of their menu, but the variations just keep coming. There is nothing static about the nature of the food served nor the family members who continue to serve it up. This family-owned and operated business is what defines faith and love in not just the entire Florence area, but the Holt Legacy that continues to grow, with 16 more, and counting.


All Proceeds Go to
Help 4 Kids

Proceeds go to:

Help 4 Kids