Cookin’ Inspired by the Carolinas

From the low country of South Carolina to the Atlantic coast of North Carolina and small towns to large metropolises like Charlotte, the Carolinas offer a variety of cuisines and a food culture rooted in local ingredients and traditions.

The foods and flavors of the Carolinas were the inspiration for this year’s S&D Culinary Challenge. Ten finalists were up to the challenge — finding unique ways to incorporate these ingredients or reinvent Southern classics. These ingredients also pair well with coffee and tea extracts and coffee grounds, as demonstrated in the finalists’ dishes.

Here’s a look at the top ten dishes and how they addressed the “Carolinas Cookin’” theme and incorporated S&D’s extracts and ingredients.

First Place: Cheerful Blend of Carolina – Chainey Kuykendall

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This winning dish combined popular Carolinas ingredients like sweet potatoes and Cheerwine, coffee-encrusted beef ribs and the Asian rice porridge dish, congee. This unique blend of flavors and cultures excited the judges and took home first prize.

Second Place: Southern Belle – Tracy-Ann Mitchell

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This sweet dish features baked stuffed apples with sweet potato ice cream, coffee praline and a ginger caramel sauce. Tracy-Ann chose to include apples and pecans because of their prevalence in North Carolina.

Third Place: Low Country Jamm’in – Joy Turner

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This refined take on the Southern classic shrimp and grits incorporates both green tea extract in the pan sauce and salad and coffee extract in the coffee bacon jam.

I’ll Take My Coffee Black … In a Chocolate Raspberry Torte Cake – Taylor Hughes and Chance McWhorter

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Strong brewed coffee is incorporated into the batter of this chocolate coffee cake with a raspberry reduction and silky chocolate-rum ganache.

Touch of the Y’all Sea – Brittany Plante

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Inspired by the Atlantic coast, this dish pairs coffee-rubbed tuna steaks with collard greens and sweet potato fritters. The baked collard greens also have S&D coffee extract in the sauce for an added boost of flavor.

Not Your Mamma’s Biscuit – Ashley Cutrona

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Ashley added flair to traditional Southern flavors with her coffee and cinnamon biscuit with sweet potato ice cream.

Coffee in a Coop – Brandon Staton

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Brandon’s fried chicken biscuits take it to the next level with coffee in both the chicken breading and the red-eye ham jam.

Mini Coffamel Cheesecake – Willard Baker and Lamont Watson

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These mini cheesecakes feature a bread pudding crust and were paired with homemade coffee syrup for an intense coffee taste throughout the dish.

Southern Shrimp n’ Grits – Olivia Pedroff and Maria Meacher

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Coffee and Old Bay-encrusted shrimp are the stars of this dish, complemented by the creamy grits and chorizo-coffee gravy.

S&Delicious BBQ Sandwich – Owen Beatty

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This smoked and brined pork belly sandwich features cowboy coffee in its Carolina cherry BBQ sauce and is topped with creamy coleslaw dressing.