DISH-Local Flavor March of Dimes Signature Chef Auction

DISH-Local Flavor

It's seriously fun at the March Of Dimes Signature Chef Auction.


Sequestered in a backroom, the panel of judges huddled around the table like a jury waiting to send a man to the electric chair. Pages of score sheets with numbers and notes sat before them, stained with drops and splatters of sauces ranging from beurre blanc to lingonberry.

The judges were stoic near the end of the competition, their bellies full of two-dozen dishes and the importance of their decision weighing on their minds. Discussions ensued between sips of tepid coffee; like a jury, there could only be one decision. Live or die. Dish or no dish.

The panel was comprised of esteemed culinarians who took their job seriously. At stake was the honor of The Dish of Hampton Roads; with a capital D—the highest award at the annual March of Dimes Signature Chefs Auction. With the deliberation done, a note was passed to the coordinator of the judging, and Catch 31 and Salacia restaurant's executive chef, Pete Stine, was the winner with his Chesapeake Bay Puppy Drum.

Outside the room which housed the judges, the ballroom was a much less serious scene. Folks milled about, visiting tables staffed by chefs and sampling a wide assortment of plates. Groups sat at tables and enjoyed noshing on the assortment, chatting about which silent auction packages they were bidding on.

This year will be the 17th that the March of Dimes Signature Chefs Auction has showcased outstanding chefs and their creations. The event takes place Sunday, Oct. 17 from 5 until 9 p.m. at The Founders Inn and Spa in Virginia Beach. The tasting event has been a highlight for folks who want to enjoy an evening out, dine on an assortment of dishes, and help a great cause in the meantime.

It's a fun-raiser of sorts, because participants get to enjoy outstanding chef creations and funds and awareness are raised for the March of Dimes of Greater Hampton Roads in an effort to meet its mission of preventing birth defects, premature birth and infant mortality.

A number of awards are given, including The Dish of Hampton Roads, presented at the fundraiser to a chef creation that captures the unique regional flavor of Hampton Roads through ingredients, preparation and/or imagination. The Dish of Hampton Roads is featured in the food-themed issue each January in Hampton Roads Magazine.
The January 2010 issue highlighted Stine's puppy drum, a perfectly grilled piece of fish glistening in a light, delicate glaze, perched atop a ragout reflecting the hues of the season and resting against a toasted side of cornbread stuffing.

In addition to the Dish of Hampton Roads awards, accolades are also given for The People's Choice Award, Chef's Award, Best Environmentally-Friendly Dish, Most Outstanding Presentation, Most Outstanding Dessert and Best Decorated Booth.

Can't get enough good food for a good cause? Check out these additional
March of Dimes events:

March of Dimes Signature Chefs Auction
Nov. 7, 5 p.m.
The Mason School of Business at The College of William and Mary, Williamsburg
More information: 757-361-0000

March of Dimes Signature Chefs Auction
Outer Banks
Nov. 7, 5 p.m.
Hilton Garden Inn, Kitty Hawk
More information: 757-361-0000

The March of Dimes mission

For 17 years, some of Hampton Roads' finest chefs have gathered in a friendly competition to showcase their work, but the Signature Chef Auction does much more; as a premier fundraiser for the area March of Dimes, the event also showcases the non-profit and the work it does.

Funds generated from the Signature Chefs Auctions—through ticket sales, live auction, silent auction and donations—are used by the Greater Hampton Roads March of Dimes to improve the health of babies by preventing birth defects, premature birth and infant mortality.

This year's event on Oct. 17 at The Founders Inn in Virginia Beach hopes to raise $57,000 for March of Dimes.

Susan Smith, executive director of the local chapter, says the funds are needed now more than ever; in the United States, a baby is born with a birth defect about every four minutes, she notes. In an average week in Virginia:

  • 1,999 babies will be born
  • 242 babies will be born pre-term
  • 165 babies will be born with low birth weight
  • 15 babies will die before reaching their first birthday

In 2004, birth defects accounted for about one in five infant deaths in Virginia; that same year, about one in 30 infants were born to a mother who either received late or no prenatal care at all.

For more information,
or 757-361-0000.

Current Chefs

Chefs signed up to participate in this year's
March of Dimes Signature Chef Auction include:


Garrett Barner
Passion The Restaurant, Chesapeake

Salvatore Bilotta
Shula's 347, Norfolk

Leon Buenviaje
Smithfield Gourmet Bakery & Café, Smithfield

Richard Boone
Sonoma Wine Bar & Bistro, Virginia Beach

Shawn Cotton
Atlantic Shores, Virginia Beach

Eric Doarnberger
Swan Terrace at The Founders Inn and Spa, Virginia Beach

Rodney Einhorn
Terrapin Restaurant, Virginia Beach

ChrisMike Farrell
Still Worldly Eclectic Tapas, Portsmouth

Steve Gellas
Primo 116, Suffolk

Michael Hart
Sushi Aka, Suffolk
www.sushiaka.comtian Ianni
McCormick & Schmick's, Virginia Beach

Matt Knack
Croc's Eco Bistro, Virginia Beach

John Maclure
TradeWinds inside the Virginia Beach Resort and Conference Center

Johnny "Mo" Morrison
Mallards Restaurant, Onancock

Jonathan Olinger
Smithfield Inn, Smithfield

Gary Sokaitis
The Inn and Garden Café, Onancock

Categories: Restaurants & Food