2015 Eat Drink Read Write Festival Kicks Off Tuesday, October 6, at Central Library  

What: 2015 Eat Drink Read Write Festival
When: Tuesday, October 6 – Friday, October 9, 2015
Where: Central Library, 2100 Park Place, downtown Birmingham (Tuesday-Wednesday, October 6-7, Friday, October 9), Vulcan Park & Museum, Thursday, October 8)
Details: Four-day schedule online at www.bplonline.org/EatDrinkFest
Free Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday, Baked Event is $15, buy tickets at http://baked.eventbrite.com

Birmingham has built a national reputation as home of many incredible restaurants, from fine dining to barbecue. On Tuesday, October 6, the Birmingham Public Library will shine the spotlight on food by hosting its fourth annual Eat Drink Read Write festival.

“The festival combines food, culinary arts, and literature in an engaging format focused on cultural enrichment and entertaining the public,” said Brandon C. Smith, the Eastwood Branch Library manager who is serving as coordinator of the 2015 Eat Drink Read Write festival.

This year the Birmingham Public Library is bringing the biggest names to take part in the festival: Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito, co-owners of Baked, two New York City bakeries, and authors of a series of popular cookbooks. Lewis and Poliafito were semifinalists of the prestigious James Beard Award in the best baker category. They will highlight an evening celebrating desserts and baked goods on Thursday, October 8, beginning at 7:00 p.m., at Vulcan Park & Museum.

This year’s Eat Drink Read Write festival is unique in that each of the four nights of events are structured around the concept of a four-course dinner, Smith said. The three events being held at the Central Library in downtown Birmingham—Tuesday, October 6, Wednesday, October 7, and Friday, October 9—are free. The Vulcan Museum event featuring Baked’s Lewis and Poliafito has a $15 fee.

Main sponsors who made the Eat Drink Read Write festival possible are Protective Life Foundation, InSinkErator, and the Birmingham Public Library Young Professionals board.

The schedule will be as follows:

“Appetizer Course”- Human Library
Tuesday, October 6, 6:00 -7:45 p.m., Central Library, 2100 Park Place, free admission
Chefs, restaurateurs, food writers, and culinary school staff will be on site at the Central Library to answer questions and provide brief mentorship sessions for attendees. This free program is modeled on the international concept known as the Human Library. The books available for checkout will include restaurateurs Chef Ryan Champion of Hotbox at Parkside, Marco Morosini of Silvertron Café, bartender William Batson, bloggers Jessie Merlin and Scott Doty of What to Eat in Birmingham, Chef Eryka Perry of Not Just Catering, Birmingham Food: A Magic City Menu author Emily Brown, and the staff from Lawson State Community College’s Culinary Arts Program.

“Main Course” – Food Stories
Wednesday, October 7, 6:00 -8:00 p.m., Central Library, 2100 Park Place, free admission
An evening of food stories told by people of varied backgrounds and different cultural traditions will take place at the Central Library. The stories will revolve around food memories such as making tamales with a Mexican mother, family dinners in northeast India, and a Jewish family’s love for celebrating the holidays with food. Samples of foods featured in the stories will be served. Local artist and stand-up comic Christopher Davis will host the free event.

“Dessert Course” – Featuring Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito, co-owners of BAKED in New York City
Thursday, October 8, presentation at 7:00 p.m., after party at 8:00 p.m., Vulcan Park & Museum, 1701 Valley View Drive, Birmingham, Tickets, $15, available online at http://baked.eventbrite.com
Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito, co-owners of two New York City bakeries in Manhattan and Brooklyn called BAKED, are the authors of three popular cookbooks: Baked: New Frontiers in Baking, Baked: Elements, Baked: Explorations, and Baked Occasions. They have been featured in magazines and newspapers around the globe, and write a popular food blog.

During the “Dessert Course,” Lewis and Poliafito will deliver a presentation they call “How Not to Build a Bakery,” discussing mistakes they made along their journey to success and the lucky breaks that have come their way. Semifinalists for the 2015 James Beard Foundation’s award for Outstanding Baker, Lewis and Poliafito have been featured on Oprah, Martha Stewart, and the Today Show.

The Birmingham Public Library’s Young Professionals board is hosting a reception including wine and dessert samples following the presentation. There is a $15 admission fee to attend this event. Here is a link to a GQ article about Lewis and Poliafito’s third book, Baked: Elements:

“After Dinner Drinks” – Bards & Brews Poetry Slam
Friday, October 9, 6:30-9:00 p.m., Central Library, 2100 Park Place, free admission
The library’s popular Bards & Brews spoken word poetry and craft beer tasting event will close the four-day Eat Drink Read Write festival at the Central Library. Beer will be donated from a number of local breweries, including Cahaba Brewing, Good People Brewing, and Avondale Brewing. Voice Porter, a performance artist and experienced poetry slam emcee, will host the free evening event.

Poets will compete in a slam for $500 in cash prizes while attendees sample beer, coffee, tea, and snacks.

Smith said the Birmingham Public Library would like to thank the main sponsors who made the event possible through their contributions—InSinkErator, Protective Life Foundation, and the Birmingham Public Library Young Professionals—as well as other sponsors: Alabama Sustainable Agriculture Network, Avondale Brewing Co., Friends of the Birmingham Public Library, Good People Brewing Co., Hotbox at Parkside, Lawson State Community College, Vizzini Farms Winery, What to Eat in Birmingham, and Alabama State Council on the Arts.

“This event will be a great way to celebrate our food and culture in Birmingham,” Smith said. “I am pleased that we will be able to close out Eat Drink Read Write with our popular Bards & Brews poetry slam. This will be a great way for people to come together, visit the library, and learn more about the great restaurants and breweries we have here in Birmingham.”