Chef’s Take Home Trophies, People with Disabilities Benefit

2010 Epicurious Vino Challenge is a huge success.

Chef Brian Battistella (left) receives the Chefs Choice Award from US Food Services Exec. Chef Bob Passerelli at the Epicurious Vino Challenge.

June 17, 2010 (PINE LEVEL, NC) – Two North Carolina chefs took home trophies and six others received accolades, but the real winners of the second annual Epicurious Vino Challenge held recently at Hinnant Family Vineyards in Pine Level are the people with disabilities served by RHA Howell, Inc. The wine and food event raised $30,000.

For the “challenge,” professional chefs competed to see who could come up with the best dish using a Hinnant Family Vineyard wine that they pulled out of a hat. The crowd in attendance chose a People Choice Award winner and executive chefs from US Food Services named the Chef’s Choice through a blind judging.

The Chef’s Choice Award went to Chef Brian Battistella of Battistella’s New Orleans Kitchen in Raleigh (located in the Crabtree Inn above Crabtree Valley Mall). Using Hinnant Family Vineyard’s “Tar Heel Red” wine, the chef, a New Orleans native, created Creole spiced pork tenderloin served with Tasso ham, mashed sweet potatoes with muscadine gastrique, charred sweet pepper salad, and crisp sweet potato chips.

Chef Robbie Lilly (left) takes home the Peoples Choice Award.

The Peoples Choice Award went to Chef Robbie Lilly of Sisters Garden & Catering, also in Raleigh, who created Beef Tenderloin with a “Hinnant Bordelaise,” using Hinnant’s “Noble” red wine, laced with sautéed shitake mushrooms and served over Gouda grits.

In the Chef’s Choice category, US Foodservice Executive Chefs Bob Passarelli, Mark Turner, and Wes Dills named Chef Tom Armstrong of Vinnie’s Steakhouse and Tavern in Raleigh in second place and Chef Pat Walston of House Autry in Four Oaks in third.

In the People’s Choice category, the crowd in attendance placed Chef Battistella in second place and Chef Walston in third.

Other participating chefs included Executive Chef Clifton Vogelsberg of Solas Restaurant, Lounge & Rooftop in Raleigh; Colleen Speaks of Posh Nosh Catering in Raleigh; personal chef Melinda McGuirk of Charlotte, and Chef Martin Nessley of Sunset Grille in Cary.

“We couldn’t be more pleased with the results of the 2010 Epicurious Vino Challenge,” said

A lively crowd enjoys the food, wine and other festivities at the 2010 Epicurious Vino Challenge.

Debbie Valentine, special events and marketing planner for RHA Howell. “Our guests couldn’t stop talking about the fantastic dishes all the chefs created. And it’s all of those chefs, who set aside precious time from their hectic schedules to contribute to this event, that a good idea last year became a great idea this year. Along with Hinnant Family Vineyards, our sponsors and everyone who attended, we’ve sent the message that even in the most stressful times, caring for people with disabilities is still a top priority.”

Presented by RHA Howell, the event was sponsored by Hinnant Family Vineyards, US Foodservice Raleigh, and Fallon Benefits Group.

RHA Howell is a statewide organization that has been helping people with disabilities and their families for 35 years. For more information, visit

About RHA Howell, Inc.:

RHA Howell is a not-for-profit 501 (c) (3) organization that has been helping people with disabilities and special needs, and their families, make choices to live more independently for more than 35 years. Integrity, high standards for quality, and hard work are at the core of every RHA Howell disability assistance program. Proven leaders in caring for people, RHA Howell, Inc. is a pioneering force in the field of human services, particularly supporting infants and children. For more information, go to

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