SUNDERLAND — The Blue Heron Restaurant announced the celebration of its 20th anniversary by hosting ‘Lowcountry Living: An Evening of Gullah Culture and Cuisine,’ a one-night event designed to take diners on a culinary trip to the South Carolina Lowcountry, the region which originally inspired owners Deborah Snow and Barbara White to open a restaurant focused on local, seasonal ingredients and unpretentious hospitality.
The dinner, which will feature a Gullah-themed menu, as well as music and pieces from critically acclaimed South Carolina artist Sonja Griffin Evans’ “American Gullah Collection,” will be staged on Oct. 27 at 6:30 p.m., with reservations open to the public.
The Blue Heron’s connection to the region goes back over two decades. Prior to first opening the restaurant in Montague in the summer of 1997, Snow and White embarked on a cross-country trip to explore the nation’s diverse culinary traditions. “We wanted to find our voice as a restaurant,” Snow said. “What we fell in love with especially was the South and Midwest. There was a spirit of generosity and they served great cuisine without attitude.”
Inspired by the celebration of the local food and fresh ingredients found in these locations, Snow and White were particularly captivated by the rich culture they discovered in South Carolina’s coastal Lowcountry region, where food, history and the arts are deeply rooted in African-American Gullah traditions.
Twenty years later in spring 2017, Snow and White returned to South Carolina, where they met artist Sonja Griffin Evans at the renowned Red Piano Gallery on St. Helena Island. Upon being introduced to Evans, they “immediately loved her story, her art and the energy she represents,” Snow said and began brainstorming a way to bring Gullah culture to Sunderland.
“One of our original goals in opening a restaurant was to bring a new sensibility and varied cultural experiences to the Valley,” White said. “We wanted — and still strive — to be not just a food establishment, but a place to share culture.”