A people's choice winner for the evening, Jack Halpern and company of Catering by Jill took an American route: pork loin stuffed with apples, blueberries, cranberries and cornbread with a maple syrup glaze; their shrimp étouffée was another top vote-getter.
Chef Maura also scored guest points for piquant seafood cakes served on lemon-sautéed spinach. David Napier of Old City Bar and Restaurant used Manakintowne microgreens in a ginger vinaigrette to balance a delicate and luscious lobster pudding.
J Frank, representing Positive Vibe Café, served braised duck over wild rice studded with cranberries and pistachios, the flavors of turnips and olives making an autumnal classic.
Other winners included Anthony Frank of The Glen at Virginia Crossings Resort for his Gorgonzola and duck breast salad, and Jannequin Bennett of TJ's at The Jefferson for her grilled eggplant salad with goat-cheese lollipops.
Though the chefs don't admit it, this event is a competition (albeit lighthearted) that instills more than a little jockeying for notice. Food enthusiasts found plenty of reasons to support the effort, no matter how many additional benefits crowd the field.
Enter the Olive in Green
Zuppa chefs Adam Schumm and Bryn Purser are working out food-service details for a new Shockoe Bottom restaurant opening early next year, The Green Olive Martini Bistro. Located in the former Chetti's on 17th St., the place will serve the two chefs' American cuisine on a moderately priced menu, with the restaurant's indoor courtyard a focal point for diners. Joey McCullough, former manager at Tonic, will run the bar.
West End gets its Mojo
Josh Carlton, a Philadelphia native with a deep appreciation for cheesesteak, opened Mojo's to give Richmond a more authentic version of his favorite sandwich. That was six years ago on Strawberry Street. The business moved into the former Bandito's near VCU a couple of years ago, and now it's expanding into the West End, where Carlton expects to create a template for even more branches around metro Richmond.
The new location at 8908 Patterson Ave. west of Parham won't have the same college vibe as the original: It will be a nonsmoking counter-service place without a bar.
Booths and tables at the new Mojo's will seat about 50 people, and the space will be "clean and inviting, with a lot of tile and a pizza prep area in front so that people can watch their pizza being made," Carlton says.
An expanded menu focuses on wraps, salads, pasta dishes, grilled sandwiches and the once-popular Cheez Whiz option, which Carlton says is back by popular demand. Watch for the opening before Christmas.
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