The  Sustainable  Classroom

The Sustainable Classroom - a hallmark of TerraVita – introduces visionary producers, chefs, journalists and cookbook authors for culinary workshops, food and beverage tastings, demonstrations and panel discussions which range in topic, but share a focus on sustainability. Treat yourself to this all-day pass and attend up to four 1-hour and 15 minute classes, which take place Friday, September 30, from 9 am until 3:15 pm. Classes will take place in two locations – at Southern Season’s Cooking School and at Top of the Hill’s Great Room.

Plant the Seed & Leave a Legacy: Why Heirloom Breeds Matter *THIS CLASS IS NOW FULL*

9 am - The Great Room at TOPO

Heirloom tomatoes have made their way to the foodie forefront thanks to their vibrant colors and juicy flavors. But don’t forget about the rest of the garden — melons, collards, eggplant, fruits and even herbs! Whether you’re an avid gardener, an avid cook, or dabbling in both, understanding heritage produce will elevate the dishes coming from your kitchen. More importantly, heirloom breeds are a critical part of maintaining biodiversity.

In this class, we’ll dig a little deeper and talk about why all this matters. Take apples for example. In the 19th century there were hundreds of varieties, but after 1900, growers mostly cloned the sweetest apples by grafting them. Pretty soon only a handful of varieties of apples were being produced in monoculture orchards. Stripped of the genetic diversity, these apples have become increasingly vulnerable to insects, bacteria and viruses. This panel of growers, cultivators, and cooks will discuss what exactly heirloom varieties are, why they are important to preserve, and offer a glimpse of the challenges we face without them. In addition, simple chef-prepared bites will showcase the incomparable yummy flavors of some favorite in-season edibles!

Participants: Vivian Howard, Frank Lee, Alex Hitt, Craig LeHoullier & Jim Romanoff

Flip the Table on Dipped, Battered & Fried: Modern Takes on Southern Classics

9 am - Southern Season Cooking School

Fluffy biscuits, fried chicken and gravy, creamy grits, macaroni & cheese, buttermilk pie, and banana pudding — all Southern classics and favorites that have been imprinted, for some of us, since childhood. Whether you grew up with Sunday dinner at Grandma’s or moved to the South later in life and have adopted these Southern foodways as your own, you will appreciate experiencing the very best of these dishes with a lighter tone.

Today, we know to be mindful of saturated fats, excessive salt, white flour, and sugar — but who wants to give up these Southern comfort dishes, built solidly on a foundation of these ingredients? In this class, chefs and well-known cookbook authors will take some of our favorites and show you how to create modern, soul-satisfying versions, keeping them out of the occasional indulgence category and placing them firmly in the rotation of killer dishes you serve on a regular basis. And you won’t have to compromise a lick of flavor… we promise!

Participants: Jennifer Brule, Sheri Castle & Breana Lai

Cultural Gumbo: Exploring the Heritage of Southern Food

10:45 am - The Great Room at TOPO

Cultural appropriation and southern food is a hot topic lately: publications from the Oxford American to National Geographic have considered the true origins and makers of the region’s iconic dishes. Okra, for example, is an African plant; and corn originated in southern Mexico, and later became the foundational crop of Native Americans. How and why have these origins faded over time, or purposefully been ignored?

Much like asking your grandmother to quantify her “pinch” of salt, there is no clear answer here. Does the credit for southern food belong to the people who first introduced ingredients, the people who have long claimed it as their own, or the contemporary voices ‘reviving’ core foodways? What about the hands that prepared the dishes or the bodies that gathered around tables to eat these meals? And finally, who is telling the story of southern food? This panel turns to some of our region’s best scholars and chefs - including a 2016 James Beard winner - to discuss the roots of southern foodways and its cultural influences. If we are lucky, we'll taste a few southern favorites, as well.

Participants: Toni Tipton-Martin, Marcie Cohen Ferris, Malinda Maynor Lowery & Sandra Gutierrez

A Cut Above: Why An Ethical Plate Should Include Lamb

10:45 am - Southern Season Cooking School

If you’re an omnivore, you likely appreciate the importance of understanding where your animal protein comes from. Eating is an agricultural act, and ethical meat production is an important part of sustainability. We know about pasture-raised beef and free-range chicken, and this class will add lamb to your repertoire. And in fact, the meat we eat the least is a crucial one to include.

You’ll thoroughly explore the concept of ethical meat, from a wholesome life all the way to a respectful cook. There is a ton of synergy and complexity to raising high-quality meat, beginning at breed and feed source and then into activity and stress level. Here, an author and expert butcher, a farmer, and a chef will demonstrate how to cut, cook, and eat the best meat possible. Whether you’re a producer, a cook, or a passionate eater, you’ll learn unique sourcing options and foolproof preparations that will make a difference, while enjoying mouthwatering bites.

Confirmed Participants: Meredith Leigh, Craig Rogers & Scott Crawford

Buying it Hook, Line & Sinker: What Sustainable Means for Seafood *THIS CLASS IS NOW FULL*

12:30 pm - The Great Room at TOPO

Most of us know strawberries, tomatoes, and squash all have a season, but do you know shrimp season or tuna season for our local shores? What about how seafood is sourced and where the seafood comes from on local store shelves? On an international scale, the U.S.’ fisheries are among the best managed, but the business can still get fishy. We export more than 30% of our U.S. catch to other countries and import over 90% of our consumed seafood. As much as 30% of the wild seafood the U.S. imports comes to us illegally — without any management system whatsoever*. Unsurprisingly, small-scale domestic fishermen struggle to find their place in this paradigm.

Just three years ago, researchers at N.C. State found that 25 percent of supermarket fish in the Raleigh area (mostly imported from China and Vietnam) were contaminated with formaldehyde, a toxic chemical compound. This is just one of the issues, but how do we make good choices? What should we look for when buying seafood? Is it possible to eat locally — and does it matter? This panel will offer answers to some of these questions while preparing delicious tastes of in-season edibles caught from our Southern shores!

*According to a recent study in the journal Marine Policy.

Participants: Barry Nash, Kyle McKnight, Dave Forcinito, Steve Goodwin & James Clark

Get Fizzy With It: Cider Pairings for Holiday Meals

12:30 pm - Southern Season Cooking School

It’s Thanksgiving in September! Spruce up your traditional holiday dishes with untraditional drink pairings this year, like cider. Hard cider is much more than the sweet mainstream bottled version you may be thinking of — it’s actually the fastest growing alcoholic beverage in the United States.

In this class, a sommelier and a cider expert will introduce you to the world of cider. We will pair domestic and European cider selections with tastes from an amazing chef, and you’ll see why this is the hidden gem of food pairings. Walk away ready to wow your holiday guests with a repertoire of effervescent, light cider recommendations to perfectly balance salty roasted turkey and indulgent sweet potato casserole. Consider it a balanced meal.

Confirmed Participants: Elizabeth Cooper, Mattie Beason, Thomas Munier & Jeremiah Bacon

Crystal Clear: Where Your Wine Comes From & Why It Matters

2:15 pm - The Great Room at TOPO

How often do you stock up on organic produce and locally baked bread from the farmers’ market for an upcoming dinner party, and even splurge on farmer-grown flowers for your table — only to buy bottles of bargain-priced wine on sale at the grocery store? Unfortunately, all wine is not created equal. We'll explore the journey from vineyard to glass, from multiple perspectives, and look at the environmental impact of different production methods. This panel will explore different viticultural practices from different parts of North Carolina and Europe, looking at sustainability, organics, biodynamics and the regional adaptability of those practices. Does finding the right grape for the right environment help further and create new terriors?

This class will help you drink with purpose. The sommelier-led panel will offer insight on making great wine choices that you can enjoy with a conscience.

Participants: Max Kast, John Wright, Thomas Munier, & Diana Jones

Mix It Up: The Secret to Barrel-Aged Cocktails *THIS CLASS IS NOW FULL*

2:15 pm - Southern Season Cooking School

Shaken, stirred, mixed, muddled … or barrel-aged? Lately, the technique of aging in a wooden cask has gone beyond spirits and liqueurs to complete drink combinations. Barrel-aged Manhattans and Negronis keep popping up on the menus of craft cocktail bars, touted for their rich, complex flavors. Aging softens your cocktail’s layers and can add elements of vanilla, caramel, and even smoke – a must for any avid home entertainer.

In this class, master mixologist and bourbon expert Gary Crunkleton will tell you what barrel-aging is all about. There’s an art to it, from which ingredients to begin with – stay away from juices and dairy, for example – to tweaking the ratios for an ideal cocktail. We’ll mix a few of-the-moment drinks and compare them to others that have been aging for weeks, so you can experience the difference. Alongside a few bites, this will be a fun and informative session for anybody looking to add a little craft cocktailing in the mix.

Confirmed Participants: Gary Crunkleton, Elizabeth Cooper & Ben Gill

All sales are final and all events take place rain or shine.

Please remember to bring a photo ID for all events.