Shrimp and Grits, With a Flair
A sold-out crowd wandered from table to table, nibbling on creative dishes from some of the region’s top chefs. It seemed that each “yum” was more pronounced than the next.
This scene plays out each year at the March of Dimes Signature Chefs Auction, held last October. This was the 22nd year for the plate-sampling event, which raises funds for the organization's mission, while raising awareness of the rich cuisine scene in Coastal Virginia.
The greatest yum of all, in the form of the Dish of Coastal Virginia Award, went to Peter J. Stine, executive chef at Virginia Beach’s Fire & Vine Woodfire Cuisine.
A panel of food critics gave him the kudos for his bánh mi-inspired Shrimp and Grits.
Stine won last year, too, when he was heading the kitchen at Steinhilber’s Restaurant, also in Virginia Beach.
At the event, 6-year-old Zachary helped dad with the dish, serving up some 300 plates by event’s end.
“He rocked the day with me, 12 hours start to finish,” Stine says. “He came to work with me at 9 a.m. when we started packing coolers and getting ready for the day.”
The winning dish, “Shrimp & Grits,” was composed of large North Carolina white shrimp (from within the region’s foodshed), hominy grits and a quick kimchi (fermentation) of green tomatoes, cilantro, cabbage, aioli and green tomato gel. Tomatoes, cilantro and cabbage were all local.
“The dish was inspired by the components of a bánh mi,” Stine says, referencing a classic Vietnamese sandwich.
“The sandwich was off the hook. The dish is unique but still familiar; there are great flavors that happen in this dish. Crisp vegetables, fresh herbs, 12-hour hominy (grits) with country ham from Edwards and some really amazing shrimp—big shrimp this year too—all things people love with a different flair.”
Here is a lineup of the other winners:
Best Taste Award: Executive Chef Richard Mason of Fusion Restaurant & Lounge
Most Outstanding Presentation: Executive Chef Matt Knack of Croc’s 19th Street Bistro
Most Outstanding Dessert: Chef Heidi Kowell of The Virginia Beach Art Institute
Chefs’ Choice Award: Executive Chef Jaideep Gill of Masala Bites
People’s Choice Award: Executive Chef Gary Sokaitis of The Blarney Stone in Onancock.