If you had traveled around Myrtle Beach around the end of September, you may have noticed a pattern of cars with random chef hat decals stuck to their rear windows. Don’t worry, this isn’t a contest you’re missing out on, but rather an annual event you don’t want to miss! Every October the St. Andrew’s Catholic School holds their annual fundraiser – a culinary competition where local Grand Strand restaurants submit their best creations to compete for awards such as Best Entrée, Best Dessert, People’s Choice Award and even one for Kid’s Choice. And the battle isn’t all about the food – there is even an award given out for the Best Booth Design.
With over 40 restaurants participating, it’s best to bring your appetite to this social event. When you enter the Myrtle Beach Convention Center, your senses will immediately be awakened to all the smells of the cuisine and the sounds of the band intermingled with the buzzing of the crowd. Ticket stubs are purchased upon entrance as your payment for the samples. Then the fun begins! Booths are set up against the wall forming rows in the arena, making it easy to navigate. In the middle is a popular place to mingle since it holds the band and the beer garden.
One of the first booths is 21 Main, serving samples of their filet mignon paired with lobster macaroni. You can see the juiciness of the steak and smell the sharp cheese of the macaroni. Moving on to the beer garden, you’ll find quite the selection of craft beers and various wines. The seasonal favorite is of course the Sam Adams Oktoberfest, but the Illusive Traveler Grapefruit Shandy next to it hasn’t stopped flowing either.
Leaving the beer garden, the booth catching everyone’s eye is Lil Tokyo Japanese Steakhouse. You feel like you’re getting a true Japanese experience – a booth decorated with bamboo, Japanese maple tree branches and bouquets of flowers while servers dressed in traditional Japanese kimonos pass out samples of teriyaki chicken, rice, vegetables, sushi and more. Their Unbelievable Roll sells out quick – guess the roll lives up to its name. There is even a shrimp tempura roll topped with coconut sauce!
The booth for The Sea Captain’s House is buzzing, having won first place last year in the category for the Best Dessert. Everyone is eagerly grabbing tickets to sample what they’ve concocted this year – a white chocolate pumpkin cheesecake with a ginger snap. It feels like you’re in their restaurant and getting a sneak peek into the kitchen, watching the chef pan-searing the scallops with an autumn spice right in front of your eyes. Wonder if they’ll win any awards with their seasonal-themed delicacies?
So many restaurants with food to please any palate – from Ducatis and Hot Tomato serving up pizza slices, Fiesta Mexicana handing out tacos and nachos, Rita’s scooping out frozen custard and Solé plating crab stuffed flounder. Chef Almafi’s is even serving pig cheek! And make sure to check out the Boathouse. Known for their live music and entertainment – you’ll definitely get a feel for their lively atmosphere as you step up to the booth that looks like a bar with wood paneling and lights with a solo acoustic artist singing and strumming a guitar. Talk about a good time!
Once you’ve gotten your fill on all the delicious food to sample, make sure to check out the stage in the middle of the convention center with a live band. Here adults venture out onto the dance floor, joining the little kids already dancing around and having a ball. Towards the middle of the event you’ll definitely want to make your way to this stage, as an eager crowd forms mixed in with chefs from the participating restaurants anxiously awaiting the results. After the judges have done their blind taste tests and the votes are tallied for the most popular dishes from the clipboards of the volunteers, the awards are announced. The excitement is palpable as one by one the awards are called out and roars of applause erupt as the chefs walk up to accept their trophies, commemorating their hard work and hours of preparation.
If you didn’t notice it when you walked in you definitely won’t miss it on the way out – the dancing pancakes and bacon from McDonald’s. The golden arches have a huge presence, showing their local support. You can participate in the fun, taking pictures as a breakfast sandwich or with props such as egg eyes and “fri-yay” signs. And don’t forget to spin their wheel before you leave – you’ll get a chance to win anything from a free coffee or smoothie to a free breakfast sandwich.
Although known for it’s fresh seafood, this event will give you a true taste of all the variety of great restaurants along the grand strand – and the food tastes even better because it’s for a good cause! As an added bonus you’ll leave with a list of eateries you will want to dine at during your vacation in Myrtle Beach. So make sure when you book your trip with Brittain Resorts and Hotels next fall, stop by and experience the Taste of the Town. This is one Myrtle Beach event you definitely won’t leave hungry!