Taste of the Nation, a nationwide fundraising effort, holds one of its finest events at the annual Charlotte Taste of the Nation, held every April in the Two Wells Fargo Atrium. All proceeds benefit No Kid Hungry, a favorite cause with many chefs and restaurateurs. Local beneficiaries include the Second Harvest Food Bank of Metrolina, sponsor of the Kids Café and BackPack programs that feed hungry school kids, and the Community Culinary School of Charlotte which trains unemployed people for careers in food service.
Some two dozen of Charlotte’s finest restaurants send representatives each year, offering samples of their fare. The results are both delicious and lovely to look at. Here's a look at the winners of Best of Charlotte awards at the 2013 Taste of the Nation.
Cantina 1511 Winner
Cantina 1511 won in the Best Hot Dish category with this tasty braised petite pork shank with zesty slaw and tomatillo avocado sauce. The popular Mexican spot will be moving to Park Road Shopping Center from East Boulevard in the near future.
Savannah Red winner
Savannah Red, one of the restaurants located in the Center City Marriott, won in the Hot Dish category with this unique dish of bacon lacquered cobia with collard greens, red mousseline and acai berry garnish. The colorful dish was beautifully presented in a martini glass.
Mama Ricotta's winner
Momma Ricotta's, a longtime player on the Charlotte culinary scene, scored a Best Of award in the Cold Foods category with this Parmesan crisp topped with fresh mozarella and speck (smoked prosciutto), dressed with extra virgin olive oil and micro basil.
Gallery Restaurant winner
The Gallery Restaurant, flagship restaurant of the Ballantyne Hotel and Lodge, scored in the Best Cold Food category with this delicious take on a Southern classic - Arnold Palmer tea cake.
Harper's Best Table Display
Harper's, flagship brand of the Harper's Restaurant Group, which also includes Mimosa Grill and Upstream, richly deserved the Best Table Display award. Its table featured a whole roasted pig arranged on the skin on a wild boar, surrounded by assorted peppers and fruits.
Johnson & Wales Table Display
The Culinary Department of Johnson & Wales University took over the VIP Lounge, offering an array of delish dishes, plus this dessert display set on clear lucite table, clearly a winner in the Best Table Display category.