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Chefs Show Down in Orange Beach

The fourth annual Wharf Uncorked Food & Wine Festival, presented by Wind Creek Atmore, dazzled taste buds in Orange Beach, Alabama with a VIP Kickoff Party on September 14, 2017. Culinary artists impressed the crowd with their expertise. Some dishes were prepared on the spot and others were available for guests to sample. Creative choices ranged from jalapeno ham hushpuppies to blueberry basil cream cheese wontons. Oh, and I cannot forget the fried green tomato with lump crab and fennel slaw presented by Wind Creek Atmore’s Corporate Executive Chef Peter D’Andrea.

Fried Green Tomatoe

We all know food and drink go hand in hand. Cocktails were poured using premium spirits from Opelika, Alabama’s own John Emerald Distilling Company. Several wine selections were available as well.

The party did not stop there! It continued through the weekend. Friday Rouses Market in Gulf Shores featured “Sip, Sample & Scampi.” This event gave attendees an opportunity to sample cheeses, meats and wines while watching a cooking demonstration. Local wine dinners were on the agenda for Friday evening. Diners had a variety of restaurants to choose from that gave them an opportunity to sample delicious meals along with wine pairings.

Thursday and Friday led up to the Grand Tasting! Several options were available for cocktails, wine and of course food! Seafood delights galore provided guests with options like scallops, greens and grits; jerk grilled oysters with crispy chicken skin; shrimp pot pie and more! Chicken, ribs and a charcuterie selection were also available for land lovers. And the awards go to:

  • Award for Creativity: Driftwood Steakhouse, Chef Chris Kelly – Gulf Coast Boudin

  • Award for Flavor: Cosmo’s, Chef Rob Benson – Seared Scallops with Greens and Grits

  • Award for Presentation: Blue Water BBQ Company, Chef Neil Schappert – Chicken and Ribs

  • Award for Use of Ingredients: Cosmo’s, Chef Rob Benson – Seared Scallops with Greens and Grits

  • People’s Choice Award, presented by Beach Ball Properties: Voyager’s, Chef Brody Olive – Seared Diver Scallop, Speck Polenta Gratin, Onion Agrodolce

  • Grand Tasting Overall Winner: Voyager’s, Chef Brody Olive – Seared Diver Scallop, Speck Polenta Gratin, Onion Agrodolce​

The competing chefs had the chance to win an automatic qualifying position at the World Food Championships. This year’s golden ticket went to Chef Rob Benson of Cosmo’s who will compete back at The Wharf in November for the ultimate title. I hope to see you there!

Last but not least, the reason for it all! The fourth annual Wharf Uncorked Food & Wine Festival raised more than 20 thousand dollars for Make-A-Wish® Alabama – an organization devoted to granting wishes to children statewide with life-threatening medical conditions. Funds were raised through live and silent auctions, sponsored by CSpire, and the total amount was awarded to Make-A-Wish during a check presentation.

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