Gwen Fowler



Greenville cooked up top shelf event with Euphoria

Posted 9/27/2010 7:52:00 AM

A soft rain fell Sunday in Greenville, but it didn’t dampen spirits – or appetites – at a jazz brunch and culinary cook-off on the closing day of Euphoria.

Participants stayed dry under giant tents while they enjoyed brunch foods prepared by Greenville restaurants and listened to jazz musician Mark Rapp.

And, a culinary battle of the sexes in an adjoining tent between Greenville chefs Vicky Moore and Teryi Youngblood scored one for the women.

The pair faced Chef Andre Jones of The Green Room in Greenville and Chef Michael Kramer of the Tasting Room Wine Café in Houston in a 45-minute contest. Each team had to complete as many dishes as possible using four mystery ingredients: Japanese sweet potatoes, whole-grain mustard, top-round lamb and sea beans.

Emcee David Guas, author of Damgoodsweet, referred to the two teams as the girls’ team and the boys’ team.

Moore, chef of the Lazy Goat, and Youngblood, head pastry chef at Soby’s, had a loyal following in the audience, some wearing pink T-shirts with “Vickteryi” printed on back. When Guas went out in the audience for questions, he noticed Youngblood’s mom and young daughter sitting near the front. He asked the girl how he felt about watching her mom cooking on stage.

“My mom rocks,” she replied.

Guas passed the sea bean around for the audience to see and said the green vegetable often is soaked to rid it of some saltiness. It looked more like a piece of sea weed than a bean to me, but a Google search shows it is most often used in salads.

When time was up, Guas recruited three judges from the audience to sample the offerings and declare a winner.

Jones and Kramer cooked the lamb with garlic and rosemary. (Guas called rosemary “a beautiful herb for a beautiful piece of protein.”) They also made huevos rancheros, eggs in a crispy tortilla shell, along with black beans and diced heirloom tomatoes; and an apple crisp, made with caramelized apples, ginger, brown sugar and oatmeal and topped with citrus whipped cream.

“The girl team” presented two dishes: grilled lamb on top of a sweet potato fritter on a bed of fennel and sea bean salad; and a sweet potato and apple pancake topped with brown sugar and toasted cashews.

The judges said that while they preferred the dessert of Jones and Kramer, the lamb dish prepared by Moore and Youngblood decided the contest.

The brunch foods were excellent, but my favorite was the small crab cakes prepared by Soby’s. Also great were the shrimp and grits prepared by chefs from Greenville Hospital System and the top sirloin prepared by Soby’s on the Side.

This was the fifth year of Euphoria, which was founded by musician Edwin McCain and restaurateur Carl Sobocinski. It was the first time I’ve attended this first-class event with great music by McCain and friends, many wines, beer and Firefly vodka drinks to sample, and as much delicious food as you wanted to eat. The atmosphere is laid-back, but clearly lots of work goes into it, especially by many of Greenville’s fine chefs.

I’m planning to be there next September. You should be there, too.