Wild Food Dinner Series lands in Charleston

Presented by Philip Speer and Urban American Farmer at Mercantile + Mash.
Wild Food Dinner Series logo.


By Robin Gibson


Wild Food presents ingredients collected from Charleston area farmers, foragers, and fishermen, and invites those same purveyors to the table to dine with us and share their craft and inspiration.


Wild Food Dinner Series is a pop-up dining experience and community event that furthers the concept of farm to table. In celebration of Earth Day,Chef Philip SpeerofComedorand Trisha Bates ofUrban American Farmerare launching a dinner series that brings us closer to the source of our food.


Charleston Farm by Richard Casteel.

Charleston Farm. Image by Richard Casteel.


Wild Food debuts in Charleston with a five-course menu by award-winning Chefs Philip Speer and Dano Heinze, in partnership withThe Indigo Road Hospitality Groupon Thursday, April 21, atMercantile & Mashwith two seating options at 5:30 and 8 p.m. available. Wild Food presents ingredients collected from Charleston area farmers, foragers, and fishermen, and invites those same purveyors to the table to dine with us and share their craft and inspiration. Guests may choose a meat-based or plant-based ticket, with the option to pair their dinner with wine or spirit-free beverages. Tickets cost $250 with profits going toBen's FriendsandFeed the Need Charleston.Wild Food hopes to raise $10,000 through the dinner series for these incredible organizations.


Image of Wild Food dinner tablescape.

Wild Food Dinner tablescape. Image by Brittany Hallberg.


Speer and Bates, the Chef and Farmer duo behind Wild Food, are based in Austin, TX, where they’ve partnered on events such as theBadger,Flame Beet Invasion,Soil DinnerandField Guide Festival.Wild food is the healthiest, most sustainable source of nutrients on our planet. In the coming years, they predict that there will be a shift away from homogenous grocery store varieties to the undomesticated food of our ancestors. As society returns to sourcing food regionally, we make an investment in our community foodways. Wild Food is an original experience that hopes to inspire participation in local food systems. The dinner series is supported byYETIandRambler Sparkling Water.Tickets are available for purchase online viathis link.


Foraging Excursion supported by YETI, the Official Foraging Sponsor


The day before the dinner on Wednesday, April 20, Wild Food is hosting a cohort of conscious-minded chefs on a foraging excursion throughThe Woodlands Nature Reserve.The hike will be led by local chef and forager, Annie O Love ofAnnie O Love's Cafe of Sweet Abundance.The chefs will share a picnic lunch and Rambler Sparkling Water while discussing creative solutions for fostering health and wellness in the hospitality community.


About Philip Speer


Entering the culinary world at age 17, Chef Philip Speer moved quickly from scratch bakeries to Pastry Chef positions at Austin’s most innovative restaurants. Speer has since built an impressive career, receiving recognition from major publications such as the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, GQ Magazine, Texas Monthly, Bon Appetit and four James Beard nominations.


In 2019, Chef Speer opened Mexico City inspired restaurant Comedor, which was named a top new restaurant in America by Esquire and Robb Report magazines. In 2020, Speer and his partners launched Assembly, a virtual events and culinary company which brings hospitality experiences to participants’ homes and workplaces. Speer is also a change advocate in the culinary sphere, creating resources and support for peers and employees to engage in healthier habits. He heads the Austin chapter of Ben’sFriends,a weekly meeting intended to form a coalition of sober Food and Beverage professionals, andComedor Run Club,a service industry run club created to “shift the post-shift culture.”


Chef Philip Speer by Sydney Gawlick.

Philip Speer. Image by Sydney Gawlick.


About Trisha Bates


Trisha Bates is the founder of Urban American Farmer, an organization with the mission to cultivate passionate participants in our local food system. UAF launched Farm School for Chefs in 2021, which teaches restaurant teams how to grow their own vegetables and herbs. She grew up in the rich Midwest soil, bottle-feeding lambs and digging in the garden.


After formally studying Urban Planning and two decades working in and on restaurants, Bates now builds networks between city and country, farmer and chef, human and land. She is an advocate for every piece of our local food community and invites you to join her on this journey. She recently launched Field Guide Festival, a food system festival expanding the farm-to-table movement into an interactive community experience.


Trisha Bates of American Urban Farmer.

Trisha Bates. Image by Sydney Gawlick.


About Dano Heinze


Daniel "Dano" Heinze is the Chef/Owner of an upcoming American neighborhood bistro calledVern'sin downtown Charleston. His culinary career began atJohnson & WalesMiami where he also worked for Norman Van Aken at Norman’s restaurant. After graduation, he spent nine years underSean Brockat McCrady’s earning the title of Chef de Cuisine. In 2016, Heinze and his now-wife and partner, Bethany, headed West for a new adventure in Los Angeles with esteemed restaurateurs Jon Shook and Vinny Dotolo ofJon & Vinny's, Animal andSon of a Gun.He quickly became the Culinary Development & Operations Chef for their Joint Venture Restaurant Group building impressive large-scale operations within the company.


Heinze returned home to the South to openVern's,a 50-seat restaurant serving dinner weekend brunch eyeing an opening in early Summer 2022.


Dano Heinze by Andrew Cebulka.

Dano Heinze. Image by Andrew Cebulka.


About Ben’s Friends


Ben’s Friends is a community of chefs, bartenders, line cooks, servers, sommeliers, host and hostesses, GMs and owners who have found or are seeking sobriety. Founded by Steve Palmer and Mickey Bakst, their mission is to offer community, hope and a path forward for those struggling with substance abuse and addiction.