About the Colloquium


When asked which cuisine most typifies America, chefs are bound to tell you it stems from the South. From the luscious belly of our nation, the mountains where sweet corn is grown and the rivers where trout flashes its rainbow colors, all the way down to the Mississippi Delta, the South has a gift for capturing both our hearts and our taste buds.

If the South is the heart of America, Appalachia is the heart of the South. Our southern rivers are born high up in the Blue Ridge, our minerals are mined in West Virginia and Kentucky, our stories and songs are woven out of the Scotch-Irish culture tucked within its hills.

Husking bees, ‘lasses boilings, hog killings have always been occasions to gather around a laden table where, crisped in cracklings, the bounty of the garden is served up with generous chunks of cornbread and washed down with huge gulps of iced tea.

Food is inevitably what holds a society together, familiar flavors linking memory to both present and past, as well as to religion and to culture, and creating a roadmap for generations to come.

In examining recent food trends, one might stop to ponder why Nordic cooking has gained such space with the press. It seems at first a far cry from our Appalachian hills. But its principles are our principles: making something from almost nothing, foraging the woods and the streams for whatever might be edible in times of scarcity, turning some unexpected ingredient into a feast.

These same adventures in daring have made our cuisine what it is today, varied with poke sallet (salad), fiddlehead ferns, nettles, ramps and morels, as well as squirrel, wild turkey, groundhog…we don’t need the grocery store to survive.

It has been said that to understand America you must first understand Appalachia. The dream of the Cast Iron Cook-Off, spearheaded by visionary Allen Arnold in 2005 as a Collaborative exploration of 21st Century Appalachia, has spread into a Pan-Appalachian effort to reawaken today’s American (as well as citizens from abroad) to the true essence of what Appalachia is and can be today, shaking off the dust of antiquity while valorizing the timelessness of its appeal.

The 2013 Pan-Appalachian Colloquium, held in conjunction with the Cast Iron Cook-Off in the spacious elegance of West Virginia’s Greenbrier Resort, will unite Writers, Chefs, Academics, Educators, Tourism Leaders, Farmers, Wine Growers and Media Specialists, to serve as a forum for exploring the essential role Appalachia will play in bringing our nation back to its heart: The Table.