July 20, 2011 11:13:00 AM
Jan Swoope - [email protected]
A culinary challenge designed by The Starkville Area Arts Council will bring six chefs together to "face off" Saturday for "Best of Forks & Corks" bragging rights. Patrons will be the big beneficiaries that evening, as they sample some of the finest cuisine in the region and take part in a live auction. But the long-term beneficiary is the community at large.
"Forks & Corks is a fundraising event for the SAAC," said Arts Council board member Michelle Amos, who co-chairs the event with Robin Fant. "Promoting the essential value of the arts -- music, dance, theater, literature and the visual arts -- for the cultural, educational, social, ethnic and economic vitality of the area is the official mission statement of the council."
Fant, president of the group''s board of directors, added, "This is just one of the many ways SAAC tries to involve all the different arts. A lot of times, people don''t think about the culinary arts when talking about ''arts,'' but this will actually help showcase some of that local talent."
Bob Abare is general manager and chef at the State Theatre''s Dawg Wingz, as well as its new Tilt Wine and Dessert Bar, which is co-sponsor and site of Forks & Corks. The event will offer ticket holders a sneak preview of the fashionable venue set to officially open soon.
"The chefs get to prepare whatever their fancy is. We don''t know what it will be until they get here Saturday," said Chef ''Bare, as he''s known. "This is no easy competition."
Bringing their best
Golden Triangle chefs preparing to woo their audience Saturday are Clay Bowen (Harvey''s), Raymond Jackson (Aramark/Mississippi State University), Vicki Leach (Viking), Ty Thames (Restaurant Tyler), Danny Weldon (The Grill) and Jay Yates (The Veranda).
Each will provide a taste of their chosen specialty and will be evaluated by a panel of celebrity judges in categories of Taste, Originality and Presentation. The coveted "Best of Forks & Corks" award will be determined by attendees'' votes.
Let the bidding begin
After everyone has sampled their fill and enjoyed live music by Tim "Mookie" Wilson of Columbus, Forks & Corks emcee Danny Holland will direct attention to the event finale, a live auction.
"Up for auction this year is a one-week luxurious vacation to fabulous Sterling Shores Resort located in the heart of Destin, Fla.," said Amos, who worked with the previous SAAC fundraiser StarShine, a predecessor of Forks & Corks.
"Also up are two celebrity chefs who will cook for a party of four to six people. Chef Vicki Leach, chef instructor with The Viking Cooking School in Greenwood and a faculty member at the Mississippi University for Women Culinary Arts Institute, will be available for bid, as well as Chef Bob Abare, of Dawg Wingz and Tilt."
The owner of each winning bid will work with the chef to create a menu and schedule the dinner. The winner is responsible for providing ingredients for the dinner; the chef provides the artistry.
How to go
Tickets for Forks & Corks July 23 at 6:30 p.m. are $40 per person, which includes tasting rights and two beverage tickets. Space is limited; reservations are required, Amos stated. Dress is summer casual.
Contact the SAAC office at 662-324-3080, or [email protected], to reserve your spot or for more information. All events will take place at the Tilt Wine and Dessert Bar at the State Theatre at 213 Main St. in Starkville.
"No doubt about it, this is going to be fantastic food," stressed Amos. "Good food, good music, good friends -- what more can you ask for?"
Jan Swoope is the Lifestyles Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.