Written For: Edible Canada
Date: March 2018
Does a week of craft bourbon cocktails, blues music, adventure and mouth-watering barbecue sound brilliant to you?
If so, you would get along well with Edible Canada’s president and executive chef, Eric Pateman, who slated the trip-of-a-lifetime for lovers of Southern blues culture.
This April, he’s taking 20 guests on A Southern Road Trip – an exclusive 7-day tour by luxury coach through Louisville, Nashville, Birmingham and New Orleans.
“I’m a ridiculous bourbon fan,” Eric tells me over coffee. “That’s my drink of choice, so going down and doing the bourbon trail was always a dream.”
As we get into some of his most anticipated highlights on the itinerary, I quickly understand why his voice rings with such sincere enthusiasm.
In Nashville, they have dinner booked on the rooftop ofThe Grand Ole Opry, one of the city’s most iconic and historical music venues, along with a full backstage tour and tickets to the evening’s performance.
“Nobody gets to have dinner on the roof. It doesn’t get done,” he says with an incredulous chuckle,“and we’ve got seats on stage where you can stand in the same spot Elvis was standing.”
As they pass through Mooresville, Alabama – a town with a population of 54 – they’ll hop off at the Mayor’s house to enjoy margaritas and lunch on her front porch.
A little further south, the team is hosting a special event at Gip’s Place, the rural home of 96-year-old blues icon, Henry Gipson, which moonlights as a legendary juke joint and underground music venue.
“The whole community just shows up every Saturday night … it’s in the middle of nowhere. Forty-five minutes out, you get to this guy’s house in the backwoods of Alabama and it’s a blues club,” he explains, still carrying a subtle tone of disbelief.
“We’re doing a live event there and we’re bringing barbecue for everybody.”
The trip is packed with heaps of remarkable experiences, such as cocktails on a thoroughbred horse farm in Louisville, Kentucky, or being led through the streets of downtown New Orleans by a second-line marching band after dinner.
If you’d like to get in on the action, click here to reserve your spot before the last few are taken.
This impressive schedule was made possible by a serendipitous encounter on the sidelines of last year’s inaugural Across The Top of Canada event – where a private jet chauffeured over 60 foodies across the Arctic Circle.
Eric casually mentioned his vision of organizing a “Bourbon & Blues Tour” to a journalist hired to document the trip. As luck would have it, she happened to be the former editor for Southern Living Magazine.
With her generous offer to partner with Edible Canada, Eric’s vision for A Southern Road Trip sprang to life.
“The doors that [she] was able to open in some of these communities were incredible,” he remarks. “I’m a huge believer in networks and people. Life is not what you know, it’s who you know.”
The well of Eric’s excitement for this excursion runs deeper than a passion for stellar cuisine and cocktails.
Before his days as a globetrotting chef and hospitality consultant, he grew up watching award-winning masters of Creole and Cajun cuisine on The Food Network, such as Emeril Lagasse and James Beard, who were gaining notoriety and acclaim in cities like New Orleans and Nashville.
“It’s just one of those areas that always seemed to have this really unique food culture, and people, and I’d never managed to get there,” he laments.
Now that he’s finally able to do it right, he’s pulling out all the stops.
“We’re doing five-star hotels, dinners every night, and the coach we’ve got is ridiculous. It’s one that Obama would have used on his campaign tour.”
As I listen to him illustrate the trip, as well as the arc of his career, an obvious pattern begin to arise. That is, when Eric commits to something, he goes all-out to ensure it’s impactful, memorable and truly one-of-a-kind.
“My goal with anything like [this], or Across The Top of Canada, is to do things that the general public would never have access to … It’s really about getting an experience that you could never have on your own.”
It’s safe to say the team has gone above-and-beyond to hit the mark with Bourbon, Blues & BBQ: A Southern Road Trip.
Want to join Eric on the road next month for a once-in-a-lifetime experience?