Yes, I was asked to be a judge for the "Culinary Combat" this year. The Neuse Riverkeeper Foundation's 7th Annual Taste of Coastal Carolina was a blast. And I got to play with food again.
Andy Hopper, Chef of Chefs 105 Restaurant in Morehead City, won the Culinary Combat with his 3-course breakfast. The mystery ingredients were ground pork, mushrooms, white hominy, and jicama. All 6 chefs had to incorporate these ingredients into a dish. Chef Hopper presented us with a delicious citrus-strawberry-jicama salad, followed by a perfectly cooked egg topped with perfectly seasoned sausage on a hominy biscuit accompanied by delectable creamed mushrooms. All 3 courses were on one plate, and the servings were small; but we were all wishing for more of this breakfast. All the chefs did a wonderful job, and I came away pleasantly filled.
Restaurant of the Year Award went to The Chelsea Restaurant. Their barbecued shrimp and grits had everyone coming back for more, and they proudly took the 2010 trophy home. Almost 30 restaurants donated food for this event, and then ticketholders voted for their favorites.
All proceeds were used to help fund the Neuse Riverkeeper Foundation, a nonprofit organization. This was a fun time for everyone, good advertising for the restaurants involved, and a help to a local nonprofit. Win-win-win.