Indulge in Contemporary Southern Cuisine

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The Sun Valley Culinary Institute presents an extraordinary culinary and wine event on Friday, December 15, at 6 p.m. featuring an exceptionally crafted five-course dinner with James Beard Award-winning Chefs John Currence and Vish Bhatt. Photo courtesy: Sun Valley Culinary Institute

Fundraising dinner supports SVCI Student Professional Fund

BY SABINA DANA PLASSE

Select wines provided by Blackbird Vineyards of Napa Valley. Photo courtesy: Sun Valley Culinary Institute

Since the Sun Valley Culinary Institute (SVCI) opened its doors in March 2020, it has brought new life and interests in the culinary arts to the Wood River Valley. As a school, SVCI’s one-year program, an on-site culinary arts education that includes working and paid restaurant experience to prepare students for a career in the food service industry, has successfully produced graduates working in the Valley today. A solution to a service industry issue that is not only a Wood River Valley problem but one across the nation, SVCI has also introduced a culinary culture to residents and visitors, elevating the mountain-town food and dining experience.

It has become a financial struggle for today’s high school graduates to continue their education as the rising tuition and housing costs are daunting, while the need for culinary arts vocational education to provide competent workers in the food service industry is paramount.

“The two questions prospective students always ask me is how much it costs and if there is housing,” said SVCI’s executive director, Karl Uri. “We’ve been fortunate to work with the community and our supporters to provide housing and financial assistance, which has made SVCI an attractive learning environment for its one-year program. However, tuition and housing support continues and is a focus for SVCI.”

Supporting the school and its role in the community, SVCI is a space for food lovers and those interested in culinary experiences to enrich their lives in Sun Valley. From cooking classes, food-inspired events and available space for private parties and occasions, SVCI has allowed food to become a centerpiece for celebrations and continuing education, all of which returns in funds to the school to keep it operating through SVCI’s Student Professional Fund. The Fund supports enrolled students with educational needs and function for quality culinary education.

“SVCI has been able to provide a unique and hands-on education for its students, offering a culinary hub for those looking to enhance their lives through the culinary arts while visiting or living in the Valley,” said Uri. “The idea of food tourism is a growing trend that fits our Sun Valley lifestyle and community. World-renowned chefs want to come to Sun Valley, and they provide food experiences that last beyond the chopping board and dinner table.”

SVCI has brought James Beard Award-winning chefs to Sun Valley on several occasions. Students learn side-by-side from these masters as patrons enjoy unique and unforgettable dining experiences, often repeated as fundraising opportunities, allowing the chefs to return to Sun Valley to do more—it’s a win-win for everyone involved.

As part of a series of fundraisers to support its Student Professional Fund, SVCI presents an extraordinary culinary and wine event on Friday, December 15, at 6 p.m. featuring an exceptionally crafted five-course dinner with James Beard Award-winning Chefs John Currence and Vish Bhatt, with select wines provided by Blackbird Vineyards of Napa Valley. This unique food experience will be a sensational epicurean event, limited to 30 guests.

On a rare occasion for food enthusiasts, SVCI has brought together two of the most innovative and extraordinary chefs in Southern cuisine whose expertise and forward-thinking culinary capabilities have made them world-renowned outside their home and restaurants in Oxford, Mississippi, a contemporary Southern food mecca.

Chef John Currence settled in Oxford, Mississippi, and in 1992 opened City Grocery. Since then, the City Grocery Restaurant Group has opened Bouré, Big Bad Breakfast, and Snackbar. In 2009, Currence received the James Beard Award for Best Chef South. In addition, he won the Charleston Food and Wine Festival’s Iron Chef Challenge in 2009 and was a Top Chef Masters contestant for season three. Currence is the author of three best-selling books: Pickles, Pigs and Whiskey, Big Bad Breakfast and Tailgreat.

Chef Vishwesh Bhatt is a James Beard Award-winning chef and author of the critically acclaimed I Am From Here: Stories and Recipes from a Southern Chef. In 2019, Bhatt was awarded Southern Living’s Southerner of the Year and the James Beard Foundation Best Chef South. Bhatt has been a part of Chef John Currence’s City Grocery Restaurant Group since 1997, where he began his career as a prep cook at City Grocery and advanced to executive chef at Snackbar, which opened in 2009. At Snackbar, using his years of culinary experience and exposure to worldwide cultures, Bhatt developed a menu that intertwines Southern and subcontinental foodways—an innovative and delicious contribution to Southern cuisine.

Chef Currence and Chef Bhatt prepare their SVCI five-course sensational dining experience with exquisite wine pairings from the highly sought-after portfolio of merlots, red blends, rosé, and whites handcrafted by Blackbird Vineyards. Acclaimed “Winemaker of the Year,” Aarron Pott produces Bordeaux-inspired wine sourced from the best Napa Valley grapes from around the Valley at Blackbird Vineyards.

Limited tickets are available, and SVCI encourages you to reserve your seat at this table as soon as possible for this unforgettable, special culinary and wine occasion on Friday, December 15, at 6 p.m. For tickets and reservations, visit sunvalleyculinary.org.