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Sunday, March 7, 2010

The Svelte Gourmet takes on the Charleston Wine + Food Festival!

The 2010 Charleston Wine + Food Festival could have been intimidating for me, with thousands of chefs and foodies sampling my fare. After all, I was serving a "cream of" soup with no cream (gasp!) and facing an audience whose mission is flavor, not diet-friendliness. But I decided to go into it with a positive attitude, excited to share my healthy take on broccoli soup -- and it didn't hurt that I've received a ton of compliments on it from those of you here in cyberspace! So thank you!

The festival was sensory overload in a good way! The smells were amazing, the weather was gorgeous, the people were buzzing and the food was absolutely beautiful. It was intense, and I had a ball. I came away from it feeling very positive about The Svelte Gourmet's debut!

There were a few things that struck me as I spoke to hundreds of people yesterday. I was fortunate to have the first booth inside the FedEx Grand Tasting Tent, so I was told by many that the aroma of the soup filled the front vestibule and encouraged people to seek it out! Also, many were shocked that there was a healthy option at the festival, since they'd been inundated with calorie-laden, cream-based dishes. Risottos, pastas, soups, a variety of cream sauced dishes....yum! However, people were excited to try something lighter.

My favorite reaction was the incredulity many (most!) people had when I told them that the soup they were tasting only had 25 calories in their tasting and 75 calories per 1-cup serving. "But it can't possibly, it's delicious and it's cream of..." I started referring to my not-so-secret ingredient as "magic" yogurt. The best was when people sampled it and loved it even before realizing that it was "healthy."

I was touched as I talked to people about their struggles with weight loss and I loved hearing how so many had recently lost weight. They were truly interested in how they could make their healthy food taste good, so of course the cookbook was very popular! I also prepared recipe cards for everyone so they could make the soup at home -- and I truly hope they do! I also talked to a lot of people who said that they don't pay much attention to healthy foods, but they know they need to start. One thing I'm learning as I get deeper into this is that cooking and eating habits are things that families learn together. They have to unlearn the bad habits and pick up some new ones if a healthy lifestyle change is really going to happen. I connected with so many people this weekend and I am thrilled to be a part of their changes going forward.

As the afternoon progressed, people were coming to me saying things like, "Is this the diet soup I've heard so much about" and "I was told I had to come over here and taste this soup." I was also "recognized" several times, I suppose from my blog and local news appearances! It was quite exciting! I am touched and honored to have been a part of this year's festival, and I look forward to doing it again in future years! Thanks to every one of you who came by my booth! I loved meeting so many new fans and I hope you all continue to follow The Svelte Gourmet and share your stories and comments with us here!

I also loved helping Louie's Kids through cookbook sales, and I will continue to donate a portion of sales to help those in need. Thank you for joining me in supporting these great causes!
Extra special thanks to Keith, Gayle and Cheryl for all your hard work this weekend! Thank you!

Mark your calendars! I will be doing a cookbook signing on Thursday, March 18 from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at Silver Belles of Charleston gift shop (2487 Ashley River Road). Please drop by and see me and sample some complimentary dishes from The Svelte Gourmet! I will have cookbooks there for purchase, or you can bring your well-worn (I hope!) copies with you. Tell your friends!

To order The Svelte Gourmet: A Month of Main Courses online, please visit www.thesveltegourmet.com/products.html.

For the recipe for Creamy Broccoli Soup, please click here! Enjoy!

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