You might think the best part of being The Food Guy is getting to eat my way around the state, discovering all sorts of delicious drinks, dishes, restaurants and chefs along the way. And, well, you’d be right. HA-HA!
But a close second is being asked to help lend a hand at some of the fun and important cookoffs, dinners and other culinary events that local charities and social organizations count on to spread awareness (and more importantly, raise funds) to support the services they provide to those who need it most.
Whether I’m asked to judge a cooking contest, promote a food festival or serve as an ambassador or host, I try to never miss a chance to pitch in for these worthy causes. And enjoy some good eats in the process.
Next up on my culinary dance card is one of the biggest and best food events of them all – Covenant House’s annual Chef’s Challenge throwdown – where I’ve been asked to serve as the evening’s emcee from 6-8 p.m. next Tuesday, Aug. 29, at the Charleston Coliseum & Convention Center.
Featuring local celebrity chefs who team up to prepare a gourmet meal inspired by ingredients you’d find in a typical food pantry, the fundraising gala provides an evening of entertainment, inspiration and an always-impressive multi-course meal.
The event kicks off with a reception, where culinary arts students from Carver Career Center will prepare three different passed appetizers guests may enjoy with drinks in the Convention Center’s airy atrium.
Then the fun moves inside the ballroom, where different local chefs will each prepare an individual dish as part of a four-course sit-down meal. In the kitchen this year are:
Chef Mandy Gum and Carver Career Center culinary students
Chef Dennis Harris, Edgewood Country Club
Chef Evan Wilson, Ichiban Pan-Asian Cuisine
Chef Joshua Reedy, Bridge Road Bistro
Kevin Madison, Black Sheep Burrito and Brews
Pastry Chef Morgan Morrison, Rock City Cake Co.
Pastry Chef Teri Blevins, Lil' Bit of Heaven Cupcakes
And this year’s featured chef ambassador is none other than Charleston’s most celebrity of chefs, James Beard Finalist Paul Smith from 1010 Bridge Restaurant, Barkadas, The Pitch Sports Bar & Grill and Ellen’s Ice Cream.
Limited tickets remain for this always-sold-out event. They are $125 per person and may be purchased at www.wvcovenanthouse.org/events/chefs-challenge-2023.
I hope to see many of you there and REALLY hope you come up to say hello. I’ll be the guy with the mic!
Special dinner features WV apple
Speaking of fun food events, Legacy Foods Market & Bakery in Indore will present a Golden Farm to Table Dinner featuring the pride of Clay County, Golden Delicious apples, at 6 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 9, in front of the Old Clay County Courthouse at 178 Main St. in Clay.
With each course showcasing the flavors of this West Virginia-discovered apple, the menu that night will include:
Heirloom 1863 West Virginia tomato bruschetta with giardiniera vegetables and apple balsamic drizzle
Hungarian apple soup with lump crab
Living lettuce salad with shaved Golden Delicious apples, toasted black walnuts, goat cheese and apple cider vinaigrette
Local backstrap of beef with Dauphinoise potatoes
Sticky toffee pudding cheesecake with caramelized onions and double vanilla ice cream
Choice of chilled apple cider, raspberry lemonade, iced tea or water
The cost is $50 per person and reservations must be made in advance by calling 304-587-3041.
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Steven Keith is a food writer and restaurant critic known as “The Food Guy” who writes a weekly column for the Charleston Gazette-Mail and has appeared in several state, regional and national culinary publications. Follow him online at www.wvfoodguy.com or on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest. He can be reached at 304-380-6096 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.