South Mississippi samples Coast cuisine at Chefs of the Coast

September 29, 2013
By Karen Nelson at Sun Herald

BILOXI -- It's a way to sample some of the best the Coast has to offer in food and beverages, all under one roof.

The 31st Annual Chefs of the Coast celebrated the cultural diversity of the Coast on Sunday night at the Biloxi Civic Center on Howard Avenue.

"Oh my gosh, this is like find the best of the hidden gems along the Coast," said Selena Tracy, with her hands full of small, black plates stacked with samples of a half-dozen specialties.

She was with friends who were celebrating their annual reunion of staffers from the former Casino Magic, which didn't return after Katrina. She called the Coast a baby, upscale Las Vegas and bragged on Chefs of the Coast as a great way to show off what it has to offer.

She was one of about 1,300 who participated. Funds raised with the $75 tickets will go to support the Gulf Coast Chapter of the Mississippi Hospitality and Restaurant Association's legislative efforts and to subsidize workman's compensation programs at various institutions, event chairman Beau Blalock told the Sun Herald.

There were 35 restaurants, five wine vendors and two beer distributors in a large, open room with a band, a dance floor and decorated tables inside and out in the courtyard.

Dress ranged from cocktail formal to Coast casual and the atmosphere was lively as small groups moved from one food booth to the next tasting entrees and desserts.

Among the entrees to sample was Bay St. Louis' North Beach that had blackened redfish over andouille and hash topped with crawfish sauce. Scranton's, from Pascagoula, offered shrimp and artichoke dip and onion souffle dip. The Chimney's Restaurant, from Gulfport, had shrimp salad in phyllo cups and Mosaic Tapas Restaurant, from Ocean Springs, had shrimp bruschetta with Guajillo peppers.

The Longhorn Steak House, from Gulfport, featured ribs and a shaved prime rib sandwich with onion, mushrooms and Swiss cheese that had its trademark branded into the top of the bread.

Hook Gulf Coast Cuisine, from Pass Christian, had a blackened shrimp on a truffle risotto and Capone's, from D'Iberville, had homemade meatballs and pesto shrimp.

The Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College participated on several levels. The culinary technology and baking and pastry arts classes offered a opera tort with Chef Terry Newkirk overseeing the work. And the tourism classes helped set up the event and worked as hostesses for a class grade, Blalock said.

"We've had some amazing volunteers," he said.

The Hook Up Bar & Restaurant of Biloxi won the hottest restaurant award via online voting, and the Hospitality Award was given to honor Raymond Kidd.

Winners of the mixology contest: First place, Marcello Martello with BR Prime at Beau Rivage; second place, Ben and Kat Kaufman with the Irish Coast Pub and, third place, Christine Mezo with Mezo's Juke Joint.

And with the proceeds, the organization also made a $500 donation to the Extra Table, Hattiesburg Chef Robert St. John's charity that supplies healthy food to food pantries and soup kitchens.

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