A Big Easy helping of Grits and Groceries at Greenville, SC's Euphoria
(This article was written in 2017 as a preview of the Big Easy Bash at Euphoria Greenville which returns again in 2018.)
The culinary creations of South Carolina’s Upcountry and the festive flavors of the Big Easy come together this year in a brand new event at Euphoria, one of Greenville’s most anticipated festivals. While most of the events during this annual celebration of food, wine and music happen in and around Downtown Greenville, a new event is taking the fun about 20 minutes up the road to a town called Travelers Rest.
The Big Easy Bash, as it’s called, fuses the talents of Upcountry and New Orleans chefs, mixes it with music and spirits, and turns this burg in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains into an unforgettable trip to the bayou.
Two of the chefs you’ll find there know New Orleans and South Carolina well. Heidi and Joe Trull own and operate Grits and Groceries near Belton, SC. The restaurant is located in an old country store, where the Trull’s serve up “real food, done real good,” a slogan that worked well for Heidi when she owned Elizabeth’s Restaurant in New Orleans (the home of praline bacon!). Grits and Groceries is well known in the region and at Euphoria.
Heidi said Grits and Groceries got involved in Euphoria out of a need to get connected with the Greenville Market which was receiving many accolades for its growing culinary scene. “We are such a small operation that Grits and Groceries can’t pay for any advertisement so we try to pick the outside work that we do so that it helps someone else as well as us.” Heidi said Euphoria gives to charities that she and her husband would be involved in.
Cooking competitions are a big draw on television and Euphoria hosts its own competitions and Heidi has been in the thick of it all. Heidi worked for Emeril Lagassi at his French Quarter Restaurant NOLA (as did her husband Joe) before venturing out onto her own at Elizabeth’s. That kind of a background makes her a formidable opponent and an even better team mate on the Euphoria cooking stage. “The strangest thing I ever had to deal with was not the ingredient, but that they teamed me up with someone that I had never met and we had to cook together! So now you have two brave souls who think they are the best and have to work to complement each other. The strange ingredients are nothing compared to that. “
This year, in addition to heading to the Big Easy Bash, Heidi and Joe will be hosting a Euphoria dinner on Thursday night at Grits. Kevin Belton, the former college and pro football player now known as a TV chef will be the guest talent. “Kevin is seven feet tall and funny as he can be,” Heidi said when describing her friend from New Orleans. “We worked together a lot in New Orleans and we are really going to have a good time here.” Heidi added, “I think it will be really fun for people to get out of the downtown and support the smaller places that only the locals know about.”
Heidi and Joe are from the Carolinas, and came back there from New Orleans after the birth of their son Tom. Heidi said everyone called her and Joe crazy to open up something in the “middle of nowhere.” Heidi described what she saw there as the center of the universe! “We are 9 miles from 4 towns and get to be a part of all of them. We have 4 farmers, 2 dairies and a butcher, these are the thing big city restaurants dream of.” In addition, they are helping provide for the people who work for them, are major supporters of two family farms and their son gets to go to a school where there are 50 people per grade. Heidi said she and Joe are “living the dream.”
Guests at Euphoria get to be part of that dream. Heidi invites people from East Tennessee to come down and experience a happening city with a small town feel. Heidi also reminds you to check out the ring outside of downtown, “There is a lot going on!”