It is, each and every year, my great pleasure to coordinate the chefs and host the culinary action on the Southern Shows Spring Home and Garden Show cooking stage in late February and then again I do the same in August for the Southern Shows Ideal Home show.
This year the spring show ran two consecutive weekends in a row and with nearly 60 different chefs, sous chefs, foodies and farmers making appearances on stage, every hour on the hour, the action was hot!
With so many different chefs I made the decision to make the stage “paperless” this year – so aside from coupons, business cards and menus for the crowd to pick up and share, there were no printed recipes.
Instead of all the paper, my good friends at Charlotte Living magazine have created a Southern Spring Home & Garden cooking stage landing page where readers will find an index of all the participating chefs, links to their printed recipes and further links to restaurant, chef, farm and shop websites. the link to the recipe index from the first weekend is at the end of this post; recipes for the second weekend will be up next week and I’ll soon write a recap blog post for that as well – but first a brief recap of the first weekend of fun, food and flavor!
As I mentioned, this year, The Southern Spring & Garden show ran Feb 22 – Feb 24 and Feb 28 – Mar 2, While I was at the Cooking Stage, my very talented husband Musician Tom Billotto, was performing instrumental and vocals in the show’s gardens. We sold his CD, Two and A Half Guitars, at the Heidi Billotto & Friends booth directly across from the cooking stage and then we played it between chefs – the crowd seemed to enjoy the blending of food and mood.
If you missed purchasing Tom’s CD for a little food and mood of your own – its available through his website - look for the link at the end of this post.
So what follows is the low down on the line up of first weekend chefs, farmers and foodies that I am proud to call my friends and colleagues as they shared their skills, tips and techniques with the audience. – Thank you every one!
Chefs Vince Giancarlo, Kyle Biddy and Greg Balch from Cantina 1511 kicked things off on Feb 21 at 11 am preparing Al Pastor Pork from Cantina’s new spring menu.
This delicious little bite is one you should certainly request when next you eat at either of Cantinas two locations – the big news is that the East Blvd. location will soon be moving to Park Road Shopping Center – stay tuned on these blog pages and on my Facebook page for details as they happen.
As it turned out it was a pork-centric beginning to the day as Chef Paul Verica and his son Alex followed with his version of the story of “The Three Little Pigs” done Hertitage Food and Drink style with Maple Glazed Pork Belly, Pulled pork with old school biscuits and Bacon Doughnuts, oh my!
A big supporter of local farmers and farmers markets, Paul has spent the last 20 years developing his personal style of New American Cuisine, and the opening of Heritage Food & Drink in downtown Waxhaw NC the culmination of years of hard work and dedication – like all the restaurants featured in this post Heritage is well worth your consideration next time you plan to enjoy dinner out!
Then the day on the stage took a turn toward poultry with Private chef Chef Bill Bigham who shared his quick and easy recipe for Mojito Chicken.
Bill was followed by Chef Chris Coleman from The Asbury at The Dunhill Hotel, a modern southern restaurant that honors the past, celebrates the seasons, and looks forward serving break fast lunch and dinner 7 days a week. Chris followed the poultry theme preparing Cured and pan roasted duck with NC peanut Farro Risotto using local duck local peanuts and local farro – Chris is another big believer in the farm to fork concept and the menu at The Asbury reflects this philosophy.
Chef David Moore from The Gallery at Ballantyne Hotel & Lodge was also inspired by all things local and Southern as he too worked with NC peanuts, crafting the legume into a delicious brittle that sported quick a kick as he added South Carolina’s now famous hot sauce, The Grim Reaper, grown and produced by the Puckerbutt Hot Sauce Company in Ft Mill, SC. The Grim reaper chili has recently been classified as the hottest Chili in the world by the fine folks at Guinness who keep all the records!
Private chef Jill Aker Ray lightened things up a bit with her easy Primavera sauce and I followed with Rachel Klebaur of Orrman’s Cheese Shop, making my recipes for Local Bosky Acres goat cheese fondue and beer cheese stuffed jalapenos.
Later, I took the stage once more to share perfect pairings of Pour Olive ultra premium extra virgin olive oils and artisan Balsamic vinegars and then Chef Greg Collier put a cap on the evening as he entertained the crowd while he prepared a twist on a breakfast classic – steel cut oats. Instead of making a sweet oatmeal, Greg transformed the oats into a melt in your mouth mushroom risotto – what a way to end our first day and one reason you should definitely check out the breakfast menus at The Yolk located in Rock Hill, SC!
The action Continue at a fever pitch on Saturday, Feb 22 with appearances by four of Charlotte’s top restaurant chefs one right after the other:
Chef Paul Ketterhagen from Carpe Diem, a fine dining restaurant and catering company
located at 1535 Elizabeth Avenue in Charlotte delighted show goers with recipes for a springtime farro salad with a duo of vinaigrettes – look for creative dishes like this one on the carpe diem springtime menu
Then Chef Sam Stachon from The Kings Kitchen a not for profit restaurant in Uptown , with a mission to help and feed our city’s hungry and homeless, brought it all back home with his melt in your mouth biscuits and sasauge gravy. Kings Kitchen is now open for breakfast and these biscuits are featured on the breakfast and lunch menus.
Show goers were ready for more as Chef Tim Groody from Fork Restaurant on Main Street in Cornelius, a farms to fork restaurant supporting dozens of local farms in the Carolinas, put an international spin on a bevy of local ingredients to make his tasty smoked local pork pot stickers!
Chef Jonathan Fortes, winner of the 2013 Fire in the City Competition dining series, and his team from Mimosa Grill located in Uptown Charlotte, wowed show goers with his creole stuffed hushpuppies - the crowd, quit literally, ate it all up.
I made real Italian biscotti while Italian travel expert Nada Vergili expounded on all that is wonderful about traveling in Italy; while private chef Jill Aker-Ray stepped up for the first of three separate time slots on stage over the course of the show sharing her recipes for primavera sauce, boursin cheese and southern pesto.
On Sunday Feb 23 – The crew from the Papi Queso Food Truck was unable to attend as scheduled, so I stepped in sharing a few tips I’ve learned from Papi Queso and others on making superlative grilled cheese sandwiches -the big trick is to use real mayo instead of butter on the bread for a truly golden and crispy finish ( the brand is your call but my go-to is Carolinas-made Dukes) - other than that, use interesting breads and fill with your favorite combinations of cheese, fruits, meats and veggies and you’re good to grill!
I was followed on stage by a new, very talented, chef in town. So glad to have Nathan Volz, executive sous chef at Charlotte’s Ritz Carlton join us on stage. Nathan’s “taste of the Ritz- Carlton” this day were bite sized pistachio profiteroles filled with a foie gras mousse – ah – what a way to start the day!
After the foie gras, amuse, so to speak, Chef David Lucarelli from The Cowfish, sushi burger bar, gave the crowd a rundown on making the very best burgers and cheeseburgers and shared recipes for some of his favorite sauces.
Next things took a light turn as Windcrest Farms’ Mary Roberts joined me on stage to talk about al things organic and to tell guests int he audience how to grow from their own organic gardens.
Mary and her husband Ray brought along two huge bags of fresh picked organic spinach which we served to the crowd paired with organic strawberries for a light spinach salad and then backed with Bosky Acres goat cheese and grated parmigiana reggiana for a rich warm spinach soufflé. We also sautéed this wonderful seasonal green with organic chick peas and tomatoes to create a tasty simply side dish as well.
That afternoon I welcomed Chef Ben Philpott from Block and Grinder to the stage . At Block & Grinder, Ben makes delicious charcuterie and so he brought some of his duck ham to share with the cooking stage crowd and then he made a homemade mustard to go with. Keeping true to the philosophy that the show must go on, Ben persevered through an explosion of his blender and the fact that the fire alarm in the building went off in the middle of his demo. After the all clear, we all realized that sometimes you just have to laugh and keep moving on.
The weekend ended with a presentation from Amy and Scott McCabe from The Savory Spice Shop SouthEnd – my go -to place for all spices and herbs sweet and savory. Scott cooked up a rigatoni pasta dish while Amy handed spice samples out to the crowd – the perfect cap off for the evening and the first weekend of the show..
For all the recipes from this talented line up of first weekend of chefs at the cooking stage at the Southern Spring & Garden Show in Charlotte click on over to http://charlottelivingmagazine.com/spring_show_2014/Spring_Show_Recipes.pdf
Each of the recipes on the Charlotte Living site offer links to the chef restaurants and websites… recipes from the second weekend of chefs will be up and online mid March 2014.
Meanwhile, for more information about any of our first weekend chefs – just follow these links to get to their respective websites ….
For more information on me, Heidi Billotto and my cooking classes – friend me on Facebook at Heidi Billotto or follow me on Twitter at @heidicooks and follow this blog and all the details will come to you as I post…
- For more on the Two and A Half Guitars CD by Tom Billotto, visit www.TomBillottoMusic.com or email Tom directly at firstname.lastname@example.org
- For More on Cantina 1511, visit http://cantina15eleven.com
- For More on Heritage Food and Drink, visit http://www.heritagefoodandrink.com
- For More on The Asbury at The Dunhill Hotel, visit http://www.theasbury.com
- For More on Bill Bigham, visit http://www.chefbillbigham.com
- For More on The Gallery at Ballantyne Hotel & Lodge, visit http://www.gallery-restaurant.com
- For More on Jill Aker-Ray, visit https://www.facebook.com/jill.akerray
- For More on Orrman’s Cheese Shop, visit http://www.7thstreetpublicmarket.com/vendors/orrmans-cheese-shop/
- For More on The Yolk, visit http://www.theyolkcafe.com
- For More on Carpe Diem, visit carpediemrestaurant.com
- For More on Kings Kitchen, visit http://www.kingskitchen.org
- For More on Fork!, visit forkrestaurantcornelius.com
- For More on Mimosa Grill, visit http://www.harpersgroup.com/mimosa.asp
- For More on Nada’s Italy, visit www.Nadasitaly.com
- For More on The Ritz Carlton Charlotte, visit http://corporate.ritzcarlton.com
- For More on The Cowfish sushi burger bar, visit http://www.thecowfish.com
- For More on Windcrest Farms organic, visit http://www.windcrestorganics.com
- For More on Block & Grinder, visit http://blockandgrinder.com
- For More on The Savory Spice Shop Southend, visit https://www.facebook.com/pages/Savory-Spice-Shop-Charlotte-South-EndDilworth/136994393059682