On Nov. 5, food lovers and top chefs from Peninsula restaurants gathered at Doubletree by Hilton, Williamsburg for the annual March of Dimes Signature Chefs Auction to support an important cause—to end premature birth and other problems that threaten babies. Every year more than 15 million babies are born prematurely; a million will die before their first birthday as a result. The Signature Chefs auction serves as a major fundraiser for the March of Dimes, where donations go toward funding the research, education and support to ensure more babies celebrate their birthday.
Both silent and live auctions were held, with spectacular prizes and chef celebration packages. In all, the event raised nearly $62,000 for the March of Dimes.
In addition to making a difference, guests sampled incredible eats from restaurants in Hampton, Newport News and Williamsburg and had the chance to cast their vote for the best dish in the People’s Choice Award for both sweet and savory dishes. Meanwhile, a panel of judges gathered beforehand to determine the most outstanding dishes in categories of Dish of the Colonial Peninsula (Best Taste), L.O.S. (Local, Organic Sustainable) Food Award, Most Outstanding Presentation, and Most Outstanding Dessert. Participating chefs also took the opportunity to vote for their favorite restaurant in the Chef’s Choice Award. Here are the results from the 2017 event:
Dish of the Colonial Peninsula (Best Taste): Chef Kyle Fowlkes from Cypress Grill from Embassy Suites, Hampton won this award for the restaurant’s Pan-Seared Rockfish—Mid-Atlantic rockfish, Byrd’s Mill Stone Ground Grits from Ashland, Va., dill beurre blanc created from a wine at Barboursville Vineyards, and Edwards Country Ham from Surry.
L.O.S. Food Award: Chef Terrence Doyal from Doubletree by Hilton, Williamsburg won this award for his Shrimp & Grits—stone ground cheese grits with andouille sausage and peppers.
Most Outstanding Presentation: Chef Kirk James from Eagles Restaurant of Kingsmill Resort, Williamsburg wowed judges with his Duck & Autumn Harvest—hickory-smoked duck with celeriac and parsnip-enclosed caviar with a honey fig gastrique.
Most Outstanding Dessert: Chef Kyle Fowlkes from Cypress Grill from Embassy Suites, Hampton pleased palates of judges and guests alike, also taking home the People’s Choice Award for Sweet for a PB&J Liege Waffle—a liege waffle with pearl sugar, peanut butter and jelly ice cream, strawberry melba and peanut butter sauce, topped with fresh blackberries and garnished with espresso whipped cream, chopped peanuts and fresh mint.
People’s Choice Award for Savory: Chefs Florence Allen, Antonio Friday and Linwood Blizzard, representing the Taverns at Colonial Williamsburg, won the people over with their Pan-Seared Crab Cake with lemon remoulade sauce, roasted corn relish and fried capers topped with microgreens.
Chef’s Choice: Chef Kyle Fowlkes from Cypress Grill from Embassy Suites, Hampton also pleased the participating chefs with his Pan-Seared Rockfish and PB&J Liege Waffle.
Here are some other noteworthy noshes prepared by participating restaurants:
Chef Richard Carr from Berret’s Seafood Restaurant and Taphouse Grill, Williamsburg prepared Seared Rare Tuna with shrimp and lobster orzo salad.
In addition to winning the S.O.L. Award, Chef Terrence Doyal from Doubletree by Hilton prepared a Doubletree Doubleshot—Chocolate Chip Doubletree cookie with chocolate mousse and chocolate syrup infused with vanilla vodka.
In addition to winning Most Outstanding Presentation, Chef Kirk James from Eagles Restaurant of Kingsmill Resort, Williamsburg prepared a Chocolate Spiced Bread Pudding with walnut bark and espresso cream sauce.
Chef Tom Power from Fat Canary, Williamsburg made a splendid Miso Scallops dish with seared scallops, jasmine rice, shitake mushrooms, radish sprouts and a spicy miso butter sauce.
Chef Steven Sowell from The Hound’s Tale presented Smoked Pork Butt utilizing Virginia ham and a pickled onion slaw.
Chef Aldo Bertuglia from Tuscany Ristorante Italiano (locations in Newport News and Williamsburg) created a flavorful autumn-inspired dish called Fall in Tuscany—risotto tortini with eggplant caponata and meatballs over béchamel sauce. They also made an assortment of visually appealing (and delicious) profiteroles.