By Kathy M. Newbern and J.S. Fletcher © 2012
It really was a no lose situation for all seven Chapel Hill chefs who participated in the first-ever Shrimp-N-Grits Throwdown that was hosted Saturday, February 25, 2012, at The Carolina Inn.
Well, sure, one chef’s shrimp and grits was judged the overall winner: Trey Cleveland of Top of the Hill restaurant. The judges found his dish, a vegetarian selection on the menu at his eatery until shrimp is added, was unique for the fried-grit cake bottom to his creamy mushroom and rosemary sauce topping jazzed up with cashews.
The judges – Andrea Griffith Cash, Editor for Chapel Hill Magazine; Deborah Miller, Blogger for Chapelboro.com; Laurie Paolicelli, Executive Director of the Chapel Hill-Orange County Visitors Bureau; Kevin Schwartz, Director of The Daily Tar Heel; Andrea Weigl, Food Writer for The News & Observer – used a complex scoring system that totaled 450 possible points. Missing first place by only one point was Jimmy Reale of The Carolina Inn’s Crossroads Restaurant. Jeremy Blankenship, Chef of Tyler’s Restaurant & Tap Room, was third.
The audience was also given a voice and cast their ballots for Vimala Rajendran of Vimala’s Curry Blossom Café, who won as “Fan Favorite!”
But the real winner was TABLE, a non-profit hunger relief organization focusing exclusively on local childhood hunger. TABLE distributes more than 3,000 pounds of food per month to over 90 children in and around Chapel Hill and Carrboro, North Carolina. A portion of the $15 entrance fee was donated to the organization, which came to over $2,000, plus dozens of bags of canned goods that people brought along to contribute.
Needless to say, the 250 plus in attendance also felt like winners after sampling the individual preparation of a classic Southern dish by these seven talented chefs (in alphabetical order):
• Jeremy Blankenship, Chef of Tyler’s Restaurant & Tap Room;
• Trey Cleveland, Executive Chef of Top of the Hill;
• Adam Cobb, Executive Chef of Glasshalfull;
• Bret Jennings, Executive Chef and Owner of Elaine’s on Franklin;
• Vimala Rajendran, Executive Chef and Owner of Vimala’s Curry Blossom Café;
• Jimmy Reale, Executive Chef of Carolina Crossroads Restaurant and Bar;
• Adam Rose, Executive Chef of Il Palio at The Siena.
Their printable recipes can be found at Shrimp-N-Grits Throwdown.
Jack Schmidt, Regional Director of Sales and Marketing for The Carolina Inn, was rightfully brimming with pride as he discussed the success of the event. “Invitations went out to Chapel Hill and Carrboro chefs, and anybody was welcome. The ones who took the challenge did a terrific job. We are very proud to have raised over $2,000 for TABLE. We had to shut down ticket sales for this first Throwdown, and gauging its success, we’re thinking ahead to doing more with different types of cuisine.”
More events mean more winners. Keep a look out for what’s going to happen next at The Carolina Inn.
You can volunteer or make a donation at TABLE. Call 919.636.4860 or visit www.tablenc.org for more info.
If you enjoyed this story, you might also enjoy these:
• Other stories by Newbern and Fletcher
• Other Stories by Kathy M. Newbern
• Stories by J.S. Fletcher, International Travel Examiner
Luxury Travel Examiner Kathy M. Newbern and spouse, J.S. Fletcher, report on luxury destinations, spas and cruising around the globe. They are award-winning members of the Society of American Travel Writers and created YourSpaReport.com and YourNovel.com, their personalized romance novel business.