The Appalachian Food Summit is a weekend-long, food-centered conference that celebrates the expanding movement of Appalachian cuisine, bringing in masterful chefs from the region to put on an end-of-the-event dinner that is, without a doubt, a crowd-pleaser. Before the jovial concluding supper, scholars, authors, writers, artists, professors, chefs, farmers, and all other food enthusiasts gather for a day of conversation, presentations, discussion, and storytelling, honoring the past and looking to the future.

Having said that, it may be a bit of a stretch to call it a “conference”.

The Appalachian Food Summit began in 2014 when Grow Appalachia Headquarters received an inquiry from a small gathering of chefs, scholars, restaurant owners, and authors, who established themselves as organizers for the Appalachian Food Summit, an event with a mission to “honor the past, celebrate the present, and build a sustainable future for Appalachian food and people.” They were seeking a fiscal sponsor after the inaugural event in 2014, at Hindman Settlement School, drew in many more attendees than anticipated. In early 2015, Grow Appalachia became the fiscal sponsor of the Appalachian Food Summit.

Last year, the 2nd Food Summit was held in beautiful Abingdon, Virginia, and this year Grow Appalachia, as a program of Berea College, is delighted that Berea College was selected to be the host location for the 2016 Food Summit. Berea is a richly artful and charming town located approximately 35 miles south of Lexington, and of course, the college speaks for itself reputation-wise. Grow Appalachia’s Candace Mullins and Christopher McKenzie have been diligently aiding Food Summit board members in the logistical planning of this event; everything from reserving hotel room blocks, website updates, ticket sales tracking, to collaborating with campus departments, reserving vehicles, ordering the printing for the menus, and many other tasks. And it’s coming up! The 2016 Appalachian Food Summit is set to begin on September 16th, with an evening program, followed by the full day program on September 17th. We look forward to welcoming all attendees to Berea and Berea College!

A Few Highlights:

  • Regionally celebrated cookbook author Ronni Lundy, capturing many readers with her popular book, Sorghum’s Savor, and numerous others over the years, has recently released her newest, Victuals, which is more than a cookbook; it’s a journey through Appalachia, both in the foods that are prepared and through the hands and stories of those who prepared them long before ourselves. With recipes including Root and Sausage Pie, Buttermilk Cucumber Salad, Spring Ramp Pot Roast, and Salmon Cakes, this book is sure to become a integral food-related resource to hit the shelves of kitchens in Appalachia and beyond. Ronni Lundy will be a part of an afternoon keynote, “The Biscuit Love Rocking Chair Keynote”. You can read a review of Victuals at this link. She will be joined by Toni Tipton-Martin, author of The Jemima Code: Two Centuries of African-American Cookbookswinner of the James Beard Foundation Book Award in 2016.
  • Bon Appetit Appalachia, a campaign launched by the Appalachian Regional Commission earlier this year, is a searchable online map that contains over 800 local food enterprises, such as farmers markets, farm-to-table restaurants, breweries, bakeries, festivals, and more. Bon Appetit Appalachia will be part of a discussion on local, and sometimes quirky, Appalachian eats from off-interstate routes. Panelists include Courtney Balestier, author; Dan Margolies, Virginia Wesleyan College; and Kostas Skordas from the Appalachian Regional Commission.
  • Silas House, author, NEH Chair in Appalachian Studies at Berea College, and Berea resident, will be giving a presentation, titled “Thoughts on the Country Grocer.” Silas House’s novels and writing have appeared in the New York Times, Oxford American, Appalachian Heritage, and many others. His first novel, Clay’s Quilt, was on the New York Times Bestseller’s List, and he formerly appeared as a commentator on NPR’s “All Things Considered”.
  • On September 16th, an evening program of readings and conversation at the Loyal Jones Appalachian Center will feature a soup beans and cornbread supper put on by Chef Edward Lee of 610 Magnolia. While the event is free of charge, donations are encouraged and proceeds will support flood recovery efforts in West Virginia.
  • And, of course, it wouldn’t be the Appalachian Food Summit without…food! This year’s Food Summit dinner will feature culinary creations from Travis Milton of Shovel and Pick (set to open in 2017); Ouita Michel of Holly Hill Inn (and several other area restaurants); Pastry Chef Ashley Capps; and Wayne Riley from the Laurel County African American Heritage Center, which is a Grow Appalachia partner site.

Check out a few pictures from the Food Summit last year in Abingdon! (Doesn’t the food look heavenly?)


Currently, tickets for the Food Summit dinner are sold out, and Day Conference tickets are no longer available on our website. Instead, they will now be available for purchase at the door the day of the event for $25.00. All presentations, keynotes, and discussions, with the exception of the evening program on the 16th and the concluding dinner, will be held at Presser Hall in Gray Auditorium on Berea College’s campus. (link goes to a campus map). The dinner will be located in the Woods-Penniman building on Berea College’s campus (refer to previously linked campus map). The menu is still being finalized…but believe it when we say that you are in for a FEAST!

We look forward to another year of working together to accelerate the food movement in the Appalachian region. For more information about the Appalachian Food Summit, please visit For a complete list of the 2016 Food Summit’s events and programs, you can follow this link.

More on the Appalachian Food Summit: 

“Appalachian Food Summit returns to Kentucky”, Ace Weekly, September 3, 2016.

“Appalachian Food Summit September 16-16”, Southern Foodways Alliance, August 23, 2016.

More pictures (and podcasts) from the 2015 Food Summit, Tennessee Farm Table, November 16, 2015.

“The Appalachian Food Summit: The Promise of Holler to Table Dining”, from the inaugural Summit in  2014 at Hindman Settlement School.