Staff photo by Emmy Errante
Chef Brent Poteat won the People’s Choice award for 22 North with his jalapeño shrimp and grits and homemade sticky buns with molasses and bourbon at the inaugural Taste of Wrightsville Beach on Saturday, Oct. 27, at the Blockade Runner Beach Resort.
Although the bands of wind and rain from Hurricane Sandy beat down outside, the mood inside the packed Blockade Runner Beach Resort was not dampened as patrons of the inaugural Taste of Wrightsville Beach sampled the offerings of a wide variety of local food and beverage vendors on hand, Saturday, Oct. 27. Event founders Lisa Weeks and John Andrews said they knew hosting the event outdoors would not be possible once they saw Sandy’s plans for the weekend weather forecast.
“We called the Blockade Runner Wednesday,” Weeks said. “It was a miracle that they were not booked for something already, and seriously, I can’t say enough about how the Blockade Runner stepped up to help.”
Despite finding an indoor venue for the event, Andrews said he was still skeptical about how many people would attend because of the weather.
“We expected to walk in here and be alone and were contemplating calling it off completely,” Andrews said. “I couldn’t imagine a better turn out; look at how the community responded. Every room was full on a hurricane night.”
Weeks said she is still trying to get a final count on the number of people who came for the evening, but she is estimating between 400-500.
There was excitement surrounding the food and beverage vendors as each patron moved from one table to another to sample what the Wrightsville Beach restaurants had to offer.
Having sampled each restaurant, the judges for the event awarded Dockside Restaurant and its new executive chef Scott Grimm with the Judges’ Choice award for his corn and crab chowder and shrimp cocktail shooters. The Blockade Runner’s East took honorable mention for the Judges’ Choice award with executive chef Mark Lawson’s trio of cumin and chili seared tuna, pulled BBQ tuna and slaw.
The People’s Choice award went to 22 North and executive chef Brent Poteat’s jalapeño shrimp and grits, and homemade sticky buns with molasses and bourbon. Roberts Grocery came in second for its chicken salad and East finished third.
After the festivities were over, Weeks said she was very happy with the inaugural event and that she was looking forward to expanding it for next year.
“We want to make it a block party weekend as we intended it to be; to bring the fellowship of the community together in a very casual way,” she said. “Next year, I was also talking to Eric [Gephart] and Liz [Biro] about having a chef’s competition the night before like Fire on the Dock.”
The proceeds from Taste of Wrightsville Beach will be used for the Wrightsville Beach Foundation’s beautification projects around the island. Weeks said the event netted between $8,000 and $9,000.