Savor Fuquay-Varina shines spotlight on local restaurants

You never know where Lisa Prince will show up — from touring the state to film one of the “Flavor NC” episodes for UNC-TV, or on WRAL’s noon newscast for a “Local Dish” segment to her own hometown of Fuquay-Varina in support of local food businesses — she stays busy promoting North Carolina food, food products, restaurants and food businesses.

Recently, Lisa and her sister, Michelle Holland, coordinated the judging for the second Savor Fuquay-Varina food event, something the siblings have quite a bit of experience with as coordinators for the N.C. State Fair cooking contests.  WRAL’s Brian Shrader, who joins Lisa in the kitchen for the weekly “Local Dish” segment, was one of the judges.

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The Savor event is a showcase for local food businesses and a fundraiser for the Fuquay-Varina Chamber of Commerce. Participants get to sample some of the tasty creations on the menu of local restaurants as well as local beer and wine. There was also a silent auction, an auction of decorated chairs and music.

This year’s Savor contest featured six categories, representing savory foods, creative dishes, local fare, healthy options, sweet treats and the people’s choice for best dish. First and second place were awarded in each category.

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Nut-covered chocolate and raspberry white chocolate truffles from Stick Boy Bread Co. won in the Savor the Sweet category.

This Lobster Roll, by Chef Joe Fasy for the Growers Market of Fuquay-Varina, wowed the judges in the Healthy Choice category.

This Lobster Roll, by Chef Joe Fasy for the Growers Market of Fuquay-Varina, wowed the judges in the Healthy Choice category.

Following were the winners in each category:

People’s Choice Award — 1st place and a gold fork was awarded to Old North State Catering; the Silver Fork went to Grower’s Market of Fuquay-Varina
Savor’s Best – 1st place to Grower’s Market of Fuquay-Varina for Spinach Ravioli; 2nd place to The Meeting Corner for Voodoo Cuban Sandwich
Viva la Difference — 1st place to Tyler’s Tavern for Buffalo Chicken Mac and Cheese; 2nd place to Old North State Catering for Cracked Alligator Sliders
Spirit of Fuquay-Varina – 1st place to Bengal Pig BBQ for ribs; 2nd place to Old North State Catering for stuffed chicken breast with sweet potatoes and collards
Healthy Choice — 1st place to Growers Market of Fuquay-Varina for Lobster Roll; 2nd place to Sweet Leaf Café for panini
Savor the Sweet — 1st place to Stick Boy Bread Co. for truffles; 2nd place to The Brick Bar and Grill for Apple Cheesecake

Tyler Fleming of Tyler’s Tavern agreed to share tips and a basic recipe for Buffalo Chicken Mac and Cheese with our readers. (He has to keep a few secrets of the recipe to himself!) Fleming said the award-winning dish is part of an updated menu at the restaurant at 2213 N. Grassland Drive in Fuquay-Varina. The dish wasn’t too hot for those with a milder taste for heat, but had enough kick to remind you that this was anything-but-ordinary mac and cheese. The distinct flavors of these individually popular dishes married together well. Fleming said guests can look for other spins on this childhood classic on the tavern’s new menu.

Tyler Fleming, pictured center, won top honors in the Viva la Difference category.

Tyler Fleming, pictured second from right, won top honors in the Viva la Difference category.

Buffalo Chicken Mac and Cheese
Use any homemade mac and cheese recipe that you bake in the oven (here’s Fannie Farmer’s Classic Baked Macaroni and Cheese recipe from Food.com if you do not have a recipe. Leave off the breadcrumbs.) and add your favorite hot sauce to the mix before baking. The amount you add will depend on your comfort level with heat.
While the mac and cheese is baking, bread four or five chicken tenders and bake or fry. When finished, cut in smaller bites and toss the pieces in hot sauce.
Once the mac and cheese is done, mix in the chicken bites and any sauce left for coating the chicken. Stir through the mac and cheese. Add a few more drops of hot sauce to the entire dish and then cover it with provolone cheese. Place back in oven to melt the cheese. Add ranch dressing on top of the mac and cheese to serve.

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