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Greenville’s culinary showcase euphoria launched Thursday night with close-knit dinners at the Fork & Plough, Hotel Domestique’s Restaurant 17 and Avenue and will conclude with a Sunday dinner at The Barn at Sitton Hill Farm.

“Last night was the kickoff to Euphoria, in our 15th year, and obviously, it’s a different looking festival and event this year, living in the day of COVID and pandemic,” Carl Sobocinski, co-founder of the event and owner of the Table 301 Restaurant Group. “While most events have been canceled, we took the opportunity to try to at least have a few events.”

Instead of the Euphoria’s typical 500 to 1,200-person rendezvous, chefs, including two-time Food Network “Chopped” champion Chef Vinson Petrillo and Hell’s Kitchen runner-up Chef Torrece Gregoire, are treating patrons to private lunches, brunches and dinners, according to a news release. By Friday morning, all meals were booked aside from a $400 Michelin-starred dinner at Soby’s New South Cuisine called “Seeing Stars.”

The “crème de la crème of Euphoria dinners” will commence on Saturday at 6:30 and will present dishes and paired wines from Kyle Connaughton, chef of Healdsburg, Calif.’s SingleThread, and Ryan Ratino, chef of Bresca in Washington, D.C.

Other hosts include Stella’s Southern Brasserie, Oak Hill Café, Restaurant 17, Topsoil Kitchen and Market and Jianna, among others with most events spotlighting local or regional culinary talent, according to the news release.

Social distancing and masking will be enforced when patrons are moving throughout the event, such as at check-in or when guests leave assigned tables, while wristbands express each visitor’s social distancing comfort level, according to a release. Green wristbands communicate the highest level of social comfort, yellow wristbands are given to visitors who are comfortable with limited mingling and red wristbands mark those who only want to socialize within their own family or friend group.

“Carl laid so much of the groundwork for Greenville’s thriving restaurant scene, which is one of the main reasons we’ve been able to attract such great culinary talent to participate in our festival year after year,” Morgan Allen, Euphoria’s executive director, said in a release after Sobocinski was honored with the governor’s Order of the Palmetto on the first day of the event. “What started as a passion project for Carl has evolved into a highly-anticipated four-day festival that shines a spotlight on Greenville’s culinary arts scene with a huge economic impact in Greenville, not to mention raises money to pour back into our community.  We are incredibly grateful for Carl’s contributions to help grow Euphoria, as well as the long list of independently-owned restaurants we are so fortunate to have here in the Upstate.”

Since the event’s founding in 2006, Euphoria has funded 40 nonprofit and charity projects across the Upstate through festival proceeds. This year’s recipients include the Meyer Center for Special Children and United Ministries.

In 2018, the events made an estimated economic impact of $3.8 million with 9,561 tickets purchased the following year, according to the event’s website.

GSA Business Report