Tickets are on sale now for the culinary event of the year, bringing some of the Golden Triangle's finest chefs together to compete for the title of Best of Forks and Corks.
The event is set for 6:30 p.m. Saturday, July 23 at the Tilt Wine and Dessert Bar at State Theatre. Tickets for the tasting event are $40 per person, which includes "tasting rights" and two beverage tickets.
Formerly Starshine, this event returns revamped with a heavy focus on local culinary arts. The event remains a fund-raiser for Starkville Area Arts Council.
Michelle Amos, director of the 2011 Forks and Corks: A Taste for the Arts, said this will mark the third year to host the Chef's Competition.
"Our chefs have certainly set a high standard," Amos said. "It gives them an opportunity to really dust off their toques and show the community just how creative they can be beyond the daily responsibility of a restaurant. It’s a lot of fun to see the chefs have fun with each other (more than a little 'trash talking' goes on), but they also bring out the best in each other."
Amos said the Starkville community is blessed to have real artistry at work in local restaurants.
"Our chefs are true masters, and this event helps shine the spotlight on their talents," Amos said
At press time, chefs including Clay Bowen of Harvey’s, Vicki Leach of Viking Cooking School, Danny Weldon of The Grill, Ty Thames of Restaurant Tyler and Jay Yates of The Veranda have committed to compete this year.
Amos said this event wouldn’t succeed without the generosity of the participating chefs, as well as the support of co-sponsor Bob Abare of the Tilt Wine and Dessert Bar.
"We at the SAAC don’t lose sight of that for a minute," Amos said. "This event may be hosted by the SAAC, but the chefs are the stars."
Danny Holland will emcee the event and Tim “Mookie” Wilson of Columbus, will provide musical entertainment.
"I missed not having a culinary weekend last year," Amos said. "Beyond that, I love everything about this event, including the artistry, the competition, and the fun that goes along with it."
Amos said she has been amazed in the past at the fabulous concoctions the chefs have debuted and the creativity behind them.
"Anyone who enjoys the kitchen, and I’m in that group, can’t help but marvel at the talent," Amos said. "It’s also just a lot of fun. And this year, Tim “Mookie” Wilson is going to play, and his style is perfect for laid back evening. Good food, good friends, good music — what more can you ask for on a hot summer night?"
Robin Fant, 2011 president of the SAAC, said it is a bit unusual to find the culinary arts incorporated in the arts council areas of emphasis in smaller communities. He said it is something more typical in larger cities and he is proud of SAAC for finding that balance. With the proximity to the Culinary Institute at the Mississippi University for Women and great local chefs, Fant said SAAC has a wonderful opportunity to celebrate the culinary arts in a unique weekend event.
"I am always looking forward to the dishes," Fant said. "You have an opportunity to taste something new and different."
Fant said local chefs take this opportunity to showcase a new creation and many times if the community likes the dish, it will be incorporated into the menus at their restaurants.
Following the competition, a live auction will wrap up the evening. Up for auction this year is a one-week vacation to Sterling Shores Resort located in Destin, Fla.
Two of Starkville’s celebrity chefs will also be up for auction for one private chef session for a party of four to six people. Organizers said 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 the ingredients for the dinner, and the chef provides the artistry.
Celebrity chefs up for auction will be Chef Vicki Leach, chef instructor with The Viking Cooking School in Greenwood, and faculty member at the MUW Culinary Arts Institute, as well as Chef Bob Abare of Dawg Wingz and Tilt.
The event will also give the community an opportunity to get a first look at the Tilt Wine and Dessert Bar, officially opening in August. While ticket holders will not have a chance to taste any of the desserts planned for the more upscale bar concept, Chef Abare, General Manager for the State Theatre facility, said the community will have a chance to sample a variety of beverages that will appear on the wine list.
To purchase tickets, make reservations or for more information, contact the SAAC office at 324-3080.