Aiken’s Cookin’ offers gourmet food and fun

  • Posted: Monday, June 3, 2013 12:43 a.m.
AIKEN STANDARD FILE PHOTO
Leslie Brett, right,  sold David Steiner on the food at the Aurora Pavilion booth at a past Aiken’s Cookin’ with Celebrity Chefs.
AIKEN STANDARD FILE PHOTO Leslie Brett, right, sold David Steiner on the food at the Aurora Pavilion booth at a past Aiken’s Cookin’ with Celebrity Chefs.

Raging rosemary shrimp skewers, Southern-style shrimp and grits, shrimp cocktails and crispy bacon and corn quesadillas are just a few of the dishes on the menu for this year’s Aiken’s Cookin’ with Celebrity Chefs. The event will be held from 7 to 9 p.m. Friday at The Willcox at 100 Colleton Ave. S.W.

More than 20 individuals and organizations from the community are scheduled to demonstrate their culinary expertise during the event, which is the annual fund-raiser for Mental Health America of Aiken County.

“Each celebrity chef provides 300 sample-sized portions of whatever it is they’re fixing, and guests go from station to station to get a serving from each one,” said Liz Neal, who is in her 10th year as the chair of Aiken’s Cookin’. “I’ve never had anyone tell me that they’ve left hungry.”

Neal also is MHA of Aiken County’s board chair and president. The United Way agency promotes positive mental health locally through its Nurture Home, Welcome Baby, Operation Santa and Education and Advocacy programs.

“Aiken’s Cookin’ has actually become more and more of a competition over the years, and the chefs have really upped their games,” Neal said. “Some are there to show off their cooking skills, but others are there primarily to have a good time, and their theme is what they’re all about.”

Prizes will be awarded to the celebrity chefs for the most flavorful dish, best dessert, best presentation and best overall.

“It’s a fun, laid-back event,” Neal said. “The dress code is casual; I’m talking shorts and flip-flops. You’ll be out around the pool at The Willcox, and it’s a great way to start off your summer.”

In addition to lots of tasty food, there will be a silent auction that will offer two beach trips, a trip to Charleston, shag lessons, tennis lessons and a golf bag and golf clubs. Wine baskets and other items also will be up for grabs, according to Lisa Tindal, MHA Aiken County’s executive director.

Advance tickets to Aiken’s Cookin’ are $50 apiece and they can be purchased at Material Things at 752 Silver Bluff Road, Tea Garden Gifts at 131 Laurens St. S.W. and MHA Aiken County at 233 Pendleton St. N.W.

Tickets at the door will cost $55 each.

For more information, call MHA Aiken County at 803-641-4164.

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