Restaurants and their chefs have been busy this year helping feed the hungry, most recently for the Food Bank of Central & Eastern North Carolina’s Wilmington Branch.
During the organization’s Iron Skillet cook-off April 6 at the University of North Carolina Wilmington’s Burney Center, five area chefs battled to see who could use humble ingredients -- bananas, cabbage, carrots, chicken thighs and brown rice -- in the most interesting and delicious ways.
The $15 entry fee gave the roughly 150 attendees 15 votes to distribute among chefs. More votes could be purchased as the night progressed.
Winners were UNCW chefs Ryan Andress and Jon-Michael Rehm, who garnered 965 votes for their spicy agave pulled chicken with five-bean yellow rice salad, cabbage carrot slaw, roasted banana barbecue sauce and a crispy rice cracker.
Also competing were Delphina Dos chef Carlos Rojas, Catch chef Keith Rhodes, 9 Bakery and Lounge chefs Nick Votel and Ryan O’Janpa and Rx and Pembroke’s chefs James Doss and Morgan Avery.
Ticket sales and sponsor donations raised $4,529, double the amount from the 2013 inaugural Iron Skillet, Food Bank Wilmington branch director Jeff Rose said.
“What that means is this community helped to generate funds that will provide 22,645 meals for our neighbors in need,” Rose said.
Sponsors were Food Lion, Bank of America, R.A. Jeffreys, Farm Bureau Insurance agent Tyson Borum, Buskirk Consulting, Parkway Volvo and 2 Hearts Consulting.
In March, dozens of Wilmington chefs, restaurants and food companies contributed to Empty Bowls, a fundraiser benefiting Good Shepherd Center and Mother Hubbard’s Cupboard, local nonprofit organizations providing food to those in need.
Pottery artists made bowls and cooks supplied all sorts of soups at the event, staged every other year at First Baptist Church Activity Center near Independence Mall. More than $45,000 was raised, said Anne Steketee, Empty Bowls organizer and co-owner of Port Land Grille.
Cape Fear Community College culinary arts students volunteered at both Empty Bowls and Iron Skillet.