Chefs, Bloggers, Restaurateurs Share Tips to Kick Off Eat Drink Read Write Festival Tuesday, October 6

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
Free Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday, Baked Event is $15, buy tickets at

It’s a concept known as the “Human Library,” a concept about offering people as “books” to be lent out to curious readers who will ask them questions and learn about the profession or background of the person who has been “checked out.”

This may be the first time a Human Library event has been held in the state of Alabama, and it makes its debut as part of Eat Drink Read Write on Tuesday, October 6, at the Central Library. The festival will conclude with its popular Bards & Brews poetry slam on Friday, October 9.

The Human Library concept originated 15 years ago in Denmark, and in its purest form involves attendees at an event like this being able to “check out” professionals or people from a variety of backgrounds, and perhaps have their beliefs challenged and walk away with a new outlook, said Brandon C. Smith, the Eastwood Branch Library manager who is serving as coordinator of the 2015 Eat Drink Read Write festival.

During the Central Library Human Library event, taking place from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m., the human “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.

“The Human Library is a good fit for the Eat Drink Read Write festival,” Smith said. “If someone is interested in starting a restaurant, they can ‘check out’ one of our restaurant owners and ask them questions for a limited amount of time. If someone is interested in becoming a chef, we will have four chefs available. If someone is interested in being a blogger, we have three different food bloggers who will be participating, including one who has recently published a book.”

Eat Drink Read Write is the inspiration of Haruyo Miyagawa, head of the Arts, Literature, and Sports Department at the Central Library, and food blogger Shaun Chavis, who put their heads together to create a cultural event that highlights Birmingham’s growing notoriety as a dining destination and raise awareness of food-related issues.

This year’s Eat Drink Read Write festival is set up like a four-course meal, starting with Tuesday’s appetizer event. The others are as follows:

“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

Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito, co-owners of two New York City bakeries in Manhattan and Brooklyn called BAKED, are the authors of four popular cookbooks: Baked: New Frontiers in Baking, Baked: Elements, Baked: Explorations and Baked: Occasions. 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.

“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.

The Eat Drink Read Write festival was made possible by contributions from main sponsors InSinkErator, the Protective Life Foundation, and the Birmingham Public Library Young Professionals. Other sponsors are 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.