Monday, July 21, 2014

Dine out, spot Gatsby, do good later

He'll look so cool.
He always looks so cool.

The '20s-themed Great Gatsby Gala will be Aug. 23, raising money for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, and you can win tickets for two by finding Gatsby a little early.

He, Daisy and Nick (the main characters in F. Scott Fitzgerald's novel to which this yearly fundraiser alludes) will be dining in a Charlotte Restaurant Week restaurant July 24, sometime between 7 and 8:30 p.m. Hints will be posted on the Great Gatsby Gala's Facebook page, which you must Like to enter this contest. Figure out where he'll be, find him, snap a photo of yourself at his table and post to Facebook or Twitter with the hashtag #IFoundGatsby and you'll get a gift. One person will win two Gala tickets. The Gala will be at the Wells Fargo Atrium, and has food from area restaurants, an open bar for beer and wine, a silent auction, Big Band dancing and a best-dressed contest. Info and ticket sales:

P.S.: A first clue for you: The city seen from near Discovery Place and Spirit Square is always the city seen for the first time.
P.P.S.: No, I don't know the answer.

Dine out, do good: Theater edition

The Storefront Theatre of Waxhaw will benefit from an Aug. 3 fundraiser called "Delicious!" Chef Jason Ziobrowski (Jay-Z, see?) will do a tasting menu, and will be using artisan grains, rices and legumes (he's Eastern Region corporate chef for InHarvest, which specializes in those). There'll also be a "Chopped"-style cooking challenge, and guests will bid on two opportunities: To serve as a sous chef in the challenge, or to get to choose (from a group of designated items) what ingredient the chef will need to incorporate in the challenge.

The theater company, which hopes to gain seed money for a facility, will announce its upcoming season at the event.

Tickets: $75 (limited to 50);

Dine out, do good: An all-star edition

A No Kid Hungry dinner for Charlotte happens Sept. 20, with proceeds going toward national hunger relief group Share Our Strength's effort to end childhood hunger.

The all-star lineup:
Mimosa Grill executive chef Jon Fortes hosts; guest chefs will be Colin Bedford from The Fearrington House in Pittsboro; Vivian Howard of Chef & the Farmer in Kinston; Jay Swift of Atlanta's 4th & Swift; and Joe Trull of Grits and Groceries in Belton, S.C.

327 S. Tryon St.; details to come; info: Adele Nelson,, 202-594-3595.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Mellow Mushroom set to open in Rock Hill

A Mellow Mushroom is slated to open July 21 in Rock Hill, with a decor "inspired by classic sci-fi writers Jules Vern and H.G. Wells": That means a giant metallic octopus at the entry, wall sculpture made with reclaimed organ pipes, a bar styled like an engine room, "a large dirigible airship" blowing "a jet stream of top hats" into a private dining room and, on the veranda, "oil panels that offer a glimpse into the world of a secret society of inventors, while overhead marches a procession of their inventions for time travel." Wow.
1940 Cinema Drive, across from the Regal Manchester Cinema in Manchester Village;

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Dine out, do good

Which Wich has opened at Blakeney, the fifth area store for franchisee Grant Alexander, who plans 11. The national chain does customizable sandwiches of many stripes, and begins in July something called "Project PB&J": Like the TOMS shoes concept of buy-one-give-one, for every peanut butter and jelly sandwich someone buys, one will be donated to a local charity. In Charlotte, that's the Alexander Youth Foundation ( and The Relatives (

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Dogwood on the way near SouthPark

Look for Dogwood Southern Table & Bar in November at Ashley Square near SouthPark, from Jon and Kim Dressler (of Dressler's in Birkdale and the Metropolitan), general manager Tim Buchanan, bar manager Brian Lorusso and chef Scott Hollingsworth.

Jon Dressler says the plan is to stay local: N.C. and S.C. products, from partner farms and growers, and regional breweries and distilleries. The working menu offers classics with a twist or two: roasted tomato and goat cheese fondue; sauteed N.C. flounder with Anson Mills farro; Charleston-style shrimp and grits; smoked prime rib and more, with appetizers going for about $5-$14 and entrees $15-$25 or so.

“House Hooch” (the place itself was almost called “Hominy & Hooch”) will range from barrel-aged Negronis to Hot Yam! (Covington’s sweet potato vodka and house-smoked jalapeno).

Fire in the City competition gets cooking

The chefs that will go head-to-head in Fire in the City – the Charlotte branch of the Got to Be NC competition dining series – were just announced: 16 interesting choices that will do battle in eight initial dinners.

Each pair of chefs finds out, one hour before actually cooking, what N.C. ingredient they will need to feature for that night, and must prepare three courses using it. Diners get to try the six courses but don’t know who cooked what. They rate the dishes, as do judges, and one chef advances. A total of 15 “dinner experiences,” in four rounds, yields one winner, who goes on to compete in November against the regional winners from Fire on the Rock (the Asheville area), on the Dock (around Wilmington), in the Triangle (Raleigh) and in the Triad (Greensboro).

Chefs apply and were chosen by the organizers, based on “culinary talent, menu development experience, training, personality, proven creativity and more.” Preliminary matchups were based on last year's rankings, according to founder Jimmy Crippen.

The initial Charlotte battles (with bios, here):

Aug. 18: Luca Annunziata of Passion8 vs. Clark Barlowe of Heirloom.

Aug. 19: Tom Dyrness of Mama Ricotta’s vs. Brian Mottola (no, not chef-owner Emeril Lagasse) of e2 Emeril’s Eatery.

Aug. 20: David Feimster (no, not chef-owner Rocco Whalen) of Fahrenheit vs. David Quintana of Southminster (a retirement community, not a restaurant).

Aug. 25: David Moore of Gallery vs. Ben Philpott of Block & Grinder.

Aug. 26: Brent Martin of The Summit Room vs. Jon Spencer of Epic Chophouse and Chillfire Bar & Grill.

Aug. 27: Chris Coleman of The Asbury (at the Dunhill) vs. Brian Williams of Upstream.

Sept. 2: Nicolas Daniels of The Wooden Vine vs. Paul Ketterhagen of Carpe Diem.

Sept. 3: Jon Fortes of Mimosa Grill (last year’s City champ) vs. David Sullivan of Fish Market Bar and Grill.

The whole schedule’s set. Quarterfinals pit the first two winners Sept. 8, the next Sept. 9, the next Sept. 15, the last Sept. 16. Semifinals (which could pit two Harper’s Group chefs against each other) are Sept. 22 and Sept. 23, and the final will be Sept. 29.

Tickets to dinners, all at Bonterra (1829 Cleveland Ave. in Dilworth), are available now online at