• Steven Keith

Young chefs bring the heat at new teen grilling contest

WOW, was I blown away by the culinary talents on display by seven teams of teen chefs during Capitol Market’s first All Fired Up kids grilling competition this past Saturday in the market’s outdoor pavilion.

Barbecue chicken pizza and grilled Mexican street corn
Barbecue chicken pizza and grilled Mexican street corn







After spending an hour shopping for farm-fresh market produce, meat, fish and other ingredients, these young foodies spent two hours trimming, chopping, sautéing, cooking and grilling their little hearts out to create five stunning plates to present for judging.

But we’re not just talking about simple grilled hot dogs here.


Steak sandwiches with grilled pineapple
Steak sandwiches with grilled pineapple

We sampled, savored and in some cases devoured grilled burgers, bacon-wrapped barbecue chicken thighs, spicy potatoes, pasta salad and all manner of grilled fruits and veggies.


When all was said and done, three top winners and 2 honorable mentions rose to the top.


Zoey Bowles from Charleston won “Best Tasting” for her mouthwatering grilled steak sandwich with a homemade horseradish-spiked cream sauce and grilled pineapple. Wyatt Earl from Charleston claimed “Most Creative” for his plate of tangy barbecue chicken pizza with sides of amazing grilled Mexican street corn and watermelon. And Marly Fortson of Charleston cooked up the “Best Use of Market Ingredients” for a meal of grilled pork and veggie kabobs that looked like, as the judge’s commented, “Capitol Market on a plate.”


Bacon-wrapped BBQ chicken with grilled veggies
Bacon-wrapped BBQ chicken with grilled veggies

Honorable mentions went out to Cameron Grubb of Winfield, who served a phenomenal grilled peach topped with an addictive nutty-caramel sauce, and Ronin Stephenson of Pinch, who – are you ready for this? – wrapped onions in bacon and cheese, which he then grilled to top a giant burger.


All of the food was truly award-worthy. And I’m still dreaming on that tasty sweet peach!


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Four West Virginia restaurants have been honored in Wine Spectator’s prestigious 2022 Restaurant Awards for offering outstanding wine lists to accompany equally fine food.


Cheeseburger with bacon-wrapped grilled onion
Cheeseburger with bacon-wrapped grilled onion

Among the 3,100+ restaurants from all 50 states and more than 70 countries this year are Charleston’s Bridge Road Bistro, Huntington’s Sip Downtown Brasserie, Clarksburg’s The Wonder Bar Steakhouse and The Greenbrier’s Main Dining Room.


Although the number of West Virginia restaurants Wine Spectator has honored has dropped in recent years, that’s in no way indicative of the quality of restaurants – or wine lists – you can enjoy across the Mountain State.


In recent years, more and more restaurants have simply opted to not go through the rather extensive application requirements to be considered for a Wine Spectator designation.


These four are great places for vino, no doubt, but there are many, many others across all parts of the state. Cheers!


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Although it’s not food-related, per se, here’s a pretty cool update about the upcoming Charleston High School All-Class Reunion that will feature nostalgic dishes from restaurant’s alumni may have frequented back in the day.


Reunion chairman Andy Richardson reached out to let me know a 97-year-old graduate from the Class of ’43 called to ask whether any of her old classmates had registered for the event. If so, she said, she wanted to come as well.


“Our oldest registrant right now is from the Class of ’46,” he said. “But we told her if others registered from the Class of ’42, ’43 or ’44, we’d let her know!”



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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 wvfoodguy@aol.com.

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