Wednesday, November 30, 2022

Taste of WB raises $50K for NHC Meals on Wheels, plans to expand service in Brunswick

The East at Blockade Runner team swept the Taste of Wrightsville Beach culinary fundraiser on Nov. 5, scoring four awards. (Courtesy Taste of Wrightsville Beach)

WRIGHTSVILLE BEACH — An annual culinary fundraiser has brought in tens of thousands of dollars to help feed homebound seniors.

Taste of Wrightsville Beach brought 700 patrons and vendors out to Bluewater Grill on Nov. 5 to raise money for New Hanover County’s Weekend Meals on Wheels program. The 2022 event brought in upward of $50,000, which will provide 30,000 meals and provide wellness checks in the community, according to Taste of WB organizer Lisa Weeks.

“Additionally, we are going to pay it forward by providing funds to help our neighbors in Brunswick County,” Weeks said.

The fundraiser will help WMOW start a weekend program in the first quarter of 2023. The pilot will launch first at the Leland Senior Center.

The Leland outpost delivers roughly 70 home-delivered meals weekdays. The pilot will extend delivery to Saturday and Sunday for 25 of those in most need. According to Weeks, the Leland center will partner with Port City Community Church’s Leland Campus to cull volunteer support.

Once results are assessed from the pilot startup, the program could extend into the other five seniors centers in the county.

More than 35 participants provided bites and sips at Taste of Wrightsville Beach, judged by a panel of celebrity culinary stalwarts in the community and participants. Community judges cast their choices through a blind tasting, with slim margins separating the winners.

East at Blockade Runner swept the awards. Chef Jessica Cabo and sous chef Shaun Fenix scored best overall, best savory dish and best sweet treat. The savory and overall best item was awarded for the team’s take on ropa vieja — cocoa-and-red-wine-braised beef with black bean puree and plantain chips.

“It was a perfect balanced bite,” judge and chef Christi Ferretti of Pine Valley Market said. “I could have eaten the black bean puree for days.”

In addition for best sweet treat, East scored second place overall for its horchata cupcake with spice buttercream frosting.

Third place — a Southern-style fish stew — went to Fish House for overall eats.

Second place savory dish went to Poe’s Tavern’s pimento cheese sliders with jalapeno jack cheese and pico de gallo, with third honoring the newly reopened King Neptune’s sliced beef short rib with chimichurri and Parmesan. 

The runner up for sweet bite went to Beach Bagel’s Monkey Bread, with Nothing Bundt Cake taking third for its seasonal pumpkin spice bundt cakes and butter-cream-cheese frosting

People’s Choice winners went to a different round of eateries. Fine-dining establishment Port Land Grill won for its balsamic-espresso-glazed beef short ribs over yukon gold mashed with pickled shallots, pomegranate, beef tallow breadcrumbs and micro greens. 

The people also crowned Bluewater Grill second for its redneck Rockefeller-style roasted oysters, topped with pimento cheese and bacon crumble. 

Gelarto’s gelato, made with milk from its own herd of cows that graze the alps near Turin, Italy — topped out third.

The beer category consisted of Waterman’s Brewing in first, Wilmington Brewing Company in second and Catawba Brewing in third. Noni Bacca came in first in wine, with Windham Distributing and Prestige Beverage Company ranking second and third respectively.

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Shea Carver
Shea Carver
Shea Carver is the editor in chief at Port City Daily. A UNCW alumna, Shea worked in the print media business in Wilmington for 22 years before joining the PCD team in October 2020. She specializes in arts coverage — music, film, literature, theatre — the dining scene, and can often be tapped on where to go, what to do and who to see in Wilmington. When she isn’t hanging with her pup, Shadow Wolf, tending the garden or spinning vinyl, she’s attending concerts and live theater.

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