One of the more rewarding ways that we are able to share Tanglewood Plantation is through charitable events. This month, we are planning an event to benefit the Darlington County Education Foundation and will transform Tanglewood’s peaceful fields into a highly-competitive stage for the area’s most elite restaurants. We are proud to be hosting the first annual Culinary Cup which will showcase the Pee Dee's most talented chefs and stack them against each other for a “Top Chef” style competition. Each chef will prepare one dish and attempt to gain both the critical/ judge’s vote and the popular vote for taste and presentation. I have spent the last 6 weeks getting to know these restaurant owners and their chefs and can’t wait to see what they prepare!
The Darlington County Education Foundation is purposed to support teachers who in turn kindle enthusiasm and curiosity in the hearts and minds of children. The grants that teachers apply for directly impact the children of Darlington County and may include additional technology requests, science extensions such as class butterfly gardens, or things that the District can't budget for--like filters for the overhead lights in a special needs classroom. As a Board member for the DCEF, it is fantastic to explore the ideas that the teachers submit and to be able to reward their creativity and dedication to their students.
Fiascos is a new restaurant in Florence, SC co-owned by Dale Barth of Red Bone Alley fame. When commenting on what sets Fiasco’s apart, Barth states, “Everything you see here, we’re making here daily…It’s all fresh. It’s because we grow the finest food. It’s chock full of the best … stuff you can imagine”. Although the atmosphere is casual Italian, the handmade pastas, calamari, and pizzas are truly a work of art and capture the enthusiasm for food that the entire staff seems to radiate. I met with Curry Watkins, manager, and his excitement to be a part of something new and huge in Florence was contagious! Over a delicious, locally brewed beer we discussed the Culinary Cup and chatted with his Atlanta-trained chefs—not to spoil it—but this team is ready to compete!
Victor’s has been a staple of Florence’s fine dining crowd for years and continues to impress with both its high level of service and its dedication to amazing food. Victors boasts not only a beautiful dining room which has been awarded AAA’s 3-Diamond award, but a strong catering department led by the experienced Rachel Dill and Jayne Murray. I had the pleasure of working with Victor’s incredible chefs this past fall, as Victor’s presented “Cooking for a Cause” at Tanglewood Plantation to benefit Breast Cancer awareness. I was awed and impressed by Chef Cooper and Chef Sherif’s beautiful presentation that night…and can’t wait to see what they bring to the table for this event!
Chef Chris Carpenter will represent Block and Vino Neighborhood Butcher, an institution in Florence renowned for its incredible steaks and service. Block and Vino does extensive catering and has participated in events such as Lake City’s ArtFields and Florence’s Taste of the Symphony. Much more than just a Butcher Shop, Chef Carpenter states it best, “I love that I can be creative and cook to make people happy and have the chance to raise awareness and funds for good local causes. Just as I want my children to know where their food comes from I want the same for my customers and their families. I like working for a local business and immersing us in the community and supporting local causes.”
Catrina Penny, the owner of Hartsville’s new Lighter Side, has been smiling coyly at those trying to pinpoint exactly where her new restaurant will head for months. She has enlisted the help of the very talented Chef Slayter Jameson to open her mysterious new restaurant and the rumors that we’ve heard have us clamoring for more. What we do know is that the Lighter Side offers an incredible menu dedicated to fresh food, the location on Hartsville’s main thoroughfare couldn’t be more perfect, and Catrina’s dedication to improving Hartsville’s culinary scene is tangible—I am so excited to bring this new restaurant out for a sneak preview!
Another restaurant “sneak peak” will be presented by the not-yet-opened Town Hall Restaurant and Bar from Florence, SC. Brought to our area by the esteemed The Indigo Road Hospitality and Consulting Group of Charleston, SC, Town Hall promises to operate under the highest attention to service and dedication to the utmost in superior customer experience. Also in the ranks of this same restaurant powerhouse are the Oak Steakhouse (downtown Charleston), O-Ku, Indaco, and Mercantile and Mash (also of Charleston legend). The anticipation for this caliber of dining experience is palpable around Florence and I am certain that Town Hall’s incredible chefs will give our attendants something to talk about!
Hartsville’s Midnight Rooster has seen some incredible changes since Suzanne Galloway took over the quaint, small-town coffee shop. Not only did she transform the decor of the shop into an upscale, metropolitan space, but she also elevated the menu to fine dining. Suzanne’s strength as a small business owner is apparent in her attention to detail and translates at the Midnight Rooster into a dedication to fresh food, local produce, and inventive recipes. Suzanne laughed when I complimented her on the Midnight Rooster’s transformation, “I’m so busy changing things, I’m always surprised when I hear people say things like that!”. Suzanne and her creative, young chef Ryland Culbertson will not fail to impress at the Culinary Cup.
This event will also be supported by Hartsville’s Bizzell’s, Florence’s SWEET, and Florence’s Complete Rentals. These amazing local businesses have dedicated both their time and their resources to ensuring that this event will be a tremendous success--thank you in advance!!
We look forward to seeing you at the First Annual Culinary Cup and can't wait to announce how much money we were able to raise for the Darlington County Education Foundation!