This weekend marks the second annual Azalea Festival Chefs’ Showcase, taking place Saturday at Hotel Ballast from 1 to 4:30 p.m.
The event, which was new to the festival in 2018, features a seated, five-course meal prepared by area chefs, with wine pairings, entertainment and a silent auction.
Participating chefs include: Steve Foote, LM Restaurants corporate chef; William “Kelly” Robey, chef at Hotel Ballast; James Patterson, chef at Sedgefield Country Club; Matthew Register, chef and owner of Southern Smoke BBQ; and Anna Echols of One Belle Bakery.
The special guest of this year’s event is baker Claire Ptak of Violet Bakery in London.
A California native who worked as a pastry chef for Alice Waters at Chez Panisse prior to moving to London, Ptak also works extensively as a food stylist and writer, and was commissioned to make the royal wedding cake for the marriage of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle.
Prior to Saturday’s event, One Belle Bakery will host a meet-and-greet with Ptak at the bakery from 3 to 5 p.m. Friday. Guests will have opportunities to get her autograph and photo, and the chance to enter raffles for tickets to the Chefs' Showcase as well as festival concert tickets.
“I've been involved in lots of different Azalea Festival events over the years but being the featured pastry chef at last year's Chefs' Showcase was definitely a highlight,” said One Belle owner, Anna Echols. “It was a privilege to be able to work with other area chefs to put together an amazing menu for the attendees. I expressed interest in wanting to continue my involvement, so I was honored and thrilled when the committee asked me to host and work alongside Claire for this year's Chefs' Showcase.”
Ptak will be working in One Belle’s kitchen to prepare her dessert for the event, and having done it herself last year, Echols said she knows exactly how much work goes into preparing over 400 plated desserts.
“Claire is graciously pausing production and making herself available on Friday afternoon to meet with the public at the bakery,” Echols said. “We'll be making some English-inspired sweets to sell in addition to our everyday offerings, and will also be featuring one dessert item of which I will be giving 50 percent of the total sales back to the Azalea Festival in hopes of making 2019's festival the best one yet.”
One Belle Bakery is at 1616 Shipyard Blvd. For tickets to the Chefs' Showcase visit the N.C. Azalea Festival's website
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