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Chapel Hill - Carrboro Chefs' Throwdown

First Ever Shrimp ~N~ Grits Throwdown

Trey Cleveland of Top of the Hill is the Shrimp ~N~ Grits Throwdown Champion! 
Vimala Rajendran of Vimala's Curry Blossom Café won the Vote for "Fan Favorite!"

Thank you to our chefs, judges, guests and esteemed Master of Ceremonies who helped make our Shrimp ~N~ Grits Throwdown a huge success! We appreciate your support and look forward to hosting future Throwdowns.

For chefs' recipes scroll below and click on "View Recipe" next to each chef's name.  

Are you ready for a Throwdown? Join us for the excitement Saturday, February 25th, 1 p.m. - 4 p.m. in Chancellor's Ballroom for the first ever Chapel Hill-Carrboro Chefs' Throwdown. Watch as local star chefs prepare their twist on Shrimp and Grits and enjoy tasting samples from each of the contestants. Let your voice be heard by casting your vote for "Fan Favorite." 

Aaron Nelson, President of the Chapel Hill-Carrboro Chamber will serve as Master of Ceremonies for the Throwdown. Our panel of judges will decide which chef wins the title and bragging rights of Shrimp ~N~ Grits Champion! They include Andrea Griffith Cash, Editor for Chapel Hill Magazine; Deborah Miller, Blogger for; Laurie Paolicelli, Executive Director of the Chapel Hill-Orange County Visitors Bureau; Kevin Schwartz, Director of The Daily Tar Heel; Andrea Weigl, Food Writer for The News & Observer.

A portion of the proceeds from this event will be donated to TABLE, serving Chapel Hill-Carrboro children at risk for hunger. In support of TABLE, we ask all patrons to please bring canned food and nonperishable items to donate at the Shrimp ~N~ Grits Throwdown.

1:00 PM to 4:00 PM Shrimp ~N~ Grits Throwdown Commences
1:00 PM to 4:00 PM Cash Bar Available
1:00 PM to 2:30 PM Judging in the North Parlor
2:30 PM Fan Favorite Voting Ends
3:00 PM to 4:00 PM Judges' and Fan Favorite Throwdown Winner(s) Announced by MC, Aaron Nelson
4:00 PM Event Concludes

Purchase Tickets today to watch the following chefs Throwdown!

Jeremy Blankenship, Chef of Tyler's Restaurant & Tap Room View Recipe
After graduating from Johnson & Wales University in Charleston, S.C., Jeremy Blankenship worked for award-winning local chefs Ben Barker at Magnolia Grill, and Brian Stapleton once Chef de Cuisine at The Carolina Inn. Jeremy is now Chef at Tyler's Restaurant & Taproom.

Trey Cleveland, Executive Chef of Top of the Hill View Recipe
Trey is a New Orleans native and moved to North Carolina in 1989 after graduating from The Culinary Institute of America in New York state. Trey joined Top of the Hill in 2000. His influence and culinary insight can be seen in every aspect of operations, from the main restaurant and two bars to the event complex.

Adam Cobb, Executive Chef of Glasshalfull View Recipe
In the fall of 2004, Adam decided to pursue his dream of attending The Culinary Institue of America in Hyde Park, NY. During his time at the CIA, Adam was invited to work with top New York chefs including, Daniel Boulud and former Bon Appétit chef, Robert Cacciola. Upon graduation, Adam was offered a prestigious private chef position with a Manhattan-based family. His career as a private chef was cut short when the Spanish Government selected Adam as one of twenty international culinary professionals to participate in a one-year intensive training program in Spain. Currently, Adam is the Executive Chef for Glasshalfull. He actively works with local farmers creating fresh, seasonal dishes, and has designed a creative menu featuring Spanish and Mediterranean flavors.

Bret Jennings, Executive Chef and Owner of Elaine's on Franklin View Recipe
Cooking from the heart with fresh ingredients comes naturally to Elaine's on Franklin Chef/Owner Bret Jennings. Jennings began his culinary career while a college student at NC State in Raleigh, NC. He worked as a caterer, busboy and waiter before traveling extensively to research other culinary traditions in Thailand, Mexico, France, Italy, Germany and Spain. Following his travels, Jennings trained domestically with two of GOURMET Magazine's Top 50 Restaurants and America's top chefs, Ben Barker of Durham, NC's Magnolia Grill and Bob Kinkead of Kinkead's in Washington, DC.

Vimala Rajendran, Executive Chef and Owner of Vimala's Curry Blossom Café View Recipe
Vimala grew up in Bombay where she learned to cook from family, street vendors and friends. In 1994, a single mother of three, Vimala started cooking donation based community dinners in her Chapel Hill home. Eighteen years later in June 2010, thanks to the support of our beloved community, Vimala's Curryblossom Café was born! Vimala believes in making healthy, delicious food accessible to all people and trusts the community's commitment to food justice. Vimala has been a longtime activist for progressive causes including grassroots media, international peace and stopping domestic violence.  

Jimmy Reale, Executive Chef of Carolina Crossroads Restaurant and Bar View Recipe
Executive chef Jimmy Reale grew up as part of a large Italian-Lebanese family. He was raised "in the business" by working at his uncle's wine company as a youth. Strong Mediterranean and Italian influences show through today in Chef Reale's cooking. He received his formal culinary education from Johnson & Wales University in Charleston, SC. His careful, artful pairing of these personal and traditional southern influences produces a unique dining experience. He feels strongly about the use of local organic sustainable products and works diligently to strengthen The Carolina Inn's relationships with local farmers.

Adam Rose, Executive Chef of Il Palio View Recipe
Executive Chef Adam Rose of Il Palio received his training at the Culinary Institute of America. He has worked with a variety of chefs including John Lindenauer, Tim Oltmans, and Tom Colicchio. Under Chef Rose's direction, the cuisine at Il Palio is classical Italian cooked by an American. Adam's philosophy of food and cooking is to keep it simple, and making the food tasty with strong, bold flavors.

Purchase Tickets to the Shrimp ~N~ Grits Throwdown.

A portion of the proceeds from this event will be donated to TABLE, a non-profit hunger relief organization focusing exclusively on local childhood hunger. This organization distributes more than 3,000 pounds of food per month to over 90 children in and around the neighborhoods of Chapel Hill and Carrboro, North Carolina. TABLE is local people helping local children! Please volunteer or make a donation at TABLE. You can make a difference in the life of a child! Call 919.636.4860.

For more information, please email

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