Local and area residents are invited to come out to Heritage Park this week for a taste of what local cooking is all about. The 14th annual Taste of the South cooking competition, a showcase of local culinary talent that is noted statewide, will take place Thursday, September 21, 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.
The community event, hosted for the fourth straight year by Atmore Area Chamber of Commerce, will feature the fare of local restaurants, civic groups, churches and others that will look to gain bragging rights as the community’s best food preparers in four categories.
“We’re still waiting on a few to let us know, but I think we will probably have around 20 entries,” said Sheryl Vickers, the Chamber’s executive director. “That’s pretty good. We give trophies, actually wooden cutting boards with the event and other information burned into them, to the winners in the Best Taste – Commercial, Best Taste – Amateur, Best Dessert, and Best Decorated Booth. We added the amateur division because restaurants have good food, but we wanted to see what groups that didn’t cook food for a living could do.”
Patrons of the event, which will begin at 5 p.m. and continue until 8 p.m., pay $10 for a ticket that has five stubs that may be traded for food at any of the booths.
Vickery said there would be plenty of tickets available at the park, but added that those who wanted to purchase theirs in advance could do so at the Chamber’s Main Street offices or from any Chamber Ambassador.
Three of last year’s winners will be back in the hunt this year, but the event will see a new holder of the Best Dessert title.
Lacey McMath Photography’s namesake is expecting a child in the near future and won’t enter this year’s Taste of the South to put her homemade cinnamon rolls, which have been chosen as the category winner for three years running, up against other sweet treats.
“We will have a new dessert winner, for sure,” Vickery pointed out.
David’s Catfish House and Atmore Lions Club will each be looking for its third win in a row in, respectively, the commercial and amateur Best Taste divisions.
The local catfish restaurant has earned its titles with its miniature party burgers, while the Lions Club’s specialty is Louisiana-style etouffee.
“There will be a variety of different foods to try,” said Vickery of a competition that last year included a range of taste bud-tempting delicacies from barbecued ribs to cornbread and collards, to homemade pies, cakes and other sweets.
Atmore Community Hospital, which won the booth decorating competition with a beach-themed entry last year, is expected to also defend its title.
The local Taste of the South event was started in 2004 by Leadership Atmore, which turned over the reins to the Chamber in 2014.
“Leadership Atmore started it and ran it for the first 10 years,” the Chamber director said. “When they gave it up, it’s such a great event and fundraiser that I decided that the Chamber can handle that. We’ve been running it for four years, but it actually runs itself.”
Those who sample the foods will be able to enjoy live music, and youngsters who might not care much about who cooked what food, will be able to entertain themselves with sidewalk chalk, bubbles and other activities.
“There’s going to be plenty going on and plenty of good food,” said Vickery. “We want to invite everybody to come on out Thursday night and enjoy themselves and each other.”
As of Atmore News press time Tuesday, the following entries were signed up with the Chamber:
Acapulco Mexican Restaurant
Southern Care Hospice
Monroe County Hospital
Atmore Community Hospital
Country Place Senior
First National Bank & Trust
Cakes by Myrna
Pepsi / South Alabama Vending
L House Creations
Comfort Care Hospice
Atmore Nursing Center
The Coffee House
Lady of Distinction
For more information on Taste of the South, call 251-368-3305.