May 2008

Cooks and Books: A Fun-Filled Event Steeped in Southern Cuisine and Literature

Author: Kate Hanzalik | Photographer: Leslie Sayers

Nearly 22 percent of residents in Beaufort County are illiterate. The number of local residents who do not speak English has surged 279 percent in recent years, causing a reported rift between employers and employees. In some circumstances, the consequences are dire: limited job opportunities, difficulty maintaining work, and, for children whose parents who cannot read or write, there is a high risk that their educational advancement will be hindered.

While the rates are alarming, other numbers in our county tell a more promising story. More than 877 residents sought services from the Literacy Volunteers of the Lowcountry between 2007 and 2008. Approximately 103 volunteer tutors have joined LVL and its subsidiary, Friends of Literacy, now has 48 volunteers. To celebrate the LVL’s 35th anniversary and to raise awareness and funds, the non-profit and Friends of Literacy are spearheading the second annual Cooks and Books fundraiser this month.

It is a fun-filled event steeped in Southern cuisine and literature. Fourteen local restaurants, 11 chefs and 16 authors will be on hand to entertain and enliven, all the while donating their time and talent for a good cause.

“[Residents] know it was a good event last year and they expect it to be good or better this year,” said Ann Coffey, co-chairperson for the event.

The executive planning committee is expecting a turnout that surpasses the 500 attendees from last year’s event. They’ve increased their fundraising goal to $45,000 from $34,000.

Attendees of the fundraiser can revel in unlimited tastings of signature dishes from Myrtle’s Bar & Grill, Alligator Grille, Old Fort Pub, CQ’s, Ocean Grille, Blake’s Charlie’s Crab, Redfish, Tapas, Antonio’s, Flora’s Italian Restaurant, May 5th Cantina & Grill, Aqua Grille and Southern Graces Catering.

The chefs will compete in “The Heat Is On,” a cook-off inspired by the popular show, “Iron Chef.” Chefs will be given a basket of ingredients and will have 45 minutes to prepare their dishes. Judges will select the winner based on creativity, taste and presentation.

Autographed books from regional fiction, non-fiction and cookbook authors will be for sale. Those who have purchased books can participate in the Author Salon and meet with regional authors one-on-one. Revered Lowcountry author Katherine Wall is spearheading the literary program.

“The generosity from the community is unbelievable,” said Carol Bruno, co-chairperson for the event and director of development and public relations for LVL. The restaurants have come out, the chefs want to do their thing, the authors are there. It’s wonderful. Doors are not closed in our face.”

Many authors from last year’s event will attend and several new authors have been added to the program. The impressive line-up includes: Mary Alice Monroe, Wilbur Cross, Kathryn Wall, Kim Likins, Fran Marcher, Emory Campbell, Cassandra King, Roger Pinckney and Marjory Wentworth—Poet Laureate of South Carolina). Cookbook authors include Damon Lee Fowler, Catherine Forrester Bob Waggoner and Sallie Ann Robinson.

“We would like to see some students from the high schools and colleges who are interested in talking to authors sit down and talk to them,” said Bruno. “The authors have been very magnanimous to do this.”

The premier event will be held on Sunday, May 18 from 11:30 a.m.-4 p.m. in the Center Court at the Mall at Shelter Cove. Admission is $20 for adults, $10 for students and includes all tastings plus entry into any of the activities. Those who purchase tickets in advance will get a free drink and $5 off any book.

Advance tickets can be purchased at the following locations: Burke’s Pharmacy, Pretty Papers, Key Infiniti Showroom at the New River AutoMall, Markel’s Cards and Gifts, Christie’s Hallmark, the Hilton Head Art League, Stephens Pharmacy, Bay Street Trading company Branches and LVL.

A preview party will take place on May 9. Cocktails and hors d’ouvers from TidePointe executive chef Stephen Stewart will be served and attendees can participate in a silent auction to win trips, restaurant gift certificates and rounds of golf. Tickets are $50. Reservations to this event can be made by calling 686-6655.

Among the event’s many sponsors are Key Infiniti and TidePointe, a Classic Residence by Hyatt.

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