EAT + EAT Feature
Heritage Fire
A Flavorful Adventure in Sustainable Eating


Published On: August 20, 2023
person with gloves grilling meat on an open fire

Cooking over a fire infuses flavors like none other; the char sear seals in juices for a mouthwatering experience that is always a pleasure. Heritage Fire is an outdoor event that takes the quintessential backyard pastime to the next delicious level, featuring locally-sourced foods prepared by award-winning chefs cooked over an open flame. It’s a fun-filled foodie adventure that includes craft cocktails, wine, spirits, beer, live entertainment, and the star: delectable food.

For over a decade, Heritage Fire, currently produced by a21, has hosted the annual live-fire event in multiple locations across America, the first in Napa Valley, California, in 2010. The initial inspiration was to educate festival-goers about the importance of supporting local farmers that produce food the way our forefathers did centuries ago.

three men at heritage fire event, outside, onein apron

“This event brings together chefs and farmers in various destinations, promoting the support of local communities and the preservation of heritage breed animals,” said Shannon Ruben, the senior culinary lead for the festival.

Heritage breed is a method of raising animals humanely and naturally, where they are free to roam the land and forage for food in their native habitat. The first festival featured heritage-breed pigs and has expanded to include cow, chicken, fish, rabbit, and heirloom produce. Local farmers attend a Heritage Fire event to educate participants about farm life and the importance of sustainably raised or grown food.

A heritage-breed protein is more flavorful and juicier than mass-produced. It’s no wonder chefs are more than happy to get behind an event like Heritage Fire, where farmers and chefs can support each other. Many say locally farmed food tastes the way food is meant to taste. Anyone who has grown their own vegetables or patronized their local farmers market can attest that the color is brighter and the flavors explosive compared to the big-grocery variety. Heritage-breed protein is a similar experience; it simply tastes better.

At a Heritage Fire festival, participants can experience the difference in various ways. Twenty area chefs showcase their open-fire skills and specialty food bites in a friendly competition, where guests are encouraged to vote for their favorite. One chef will be crowned the Heritage Hero of the day.

“Most bites are regional, and some come from their ancestors’ direction. Primarily the bites are created with the chef’s knowledge of the protein and then adding their cooking style,” said Ruben.

What better venue to learn about a healthier lifestyle than to marry food sourced from real farmers with highly acclaimed chefs from local restaurants at an outdoor festival? Eating sustainably is a win-win, and at Heritage Fire, it’s a delicious local community celebration to promote food the way our forefathers intended.