Food & Wine Fundraising Event A Huge Success On Many Levels

June 10, 2009 (PINE LEVEL, NC) – The real winner of The Epicurious Vino Challenge, a charitable fundraising food and wine event held May 30th at Hinnant Family Vineyards in Pine Level, NC, was RHA Howell: The non-profit organization that serves children and adults with disabilities across the state of North Carolina was the recipient of the fundraiser. And from ticket sales, specialty raffles, and a fine jewelry auction, the event raised over $18,500.                                        sm chef

Of course, the reason the nearly sold-out crowd turned out for the event was The Challenge: 12 professional chefs from Raleigh to Kinston competed to see who could create the best signature dish using a specific Hinnant Family Vineyards wine as the key ingredient. The chefs pulled the name of an award-winning wine from a hat and created their recipes. Everyone in attendance sampled the results, including the U.S. Food Services’ team of professional chefs, who selected the Chef’s Choice Award.

And the winners are:

US Food Services’ team proclaimed Chef Jeremy Sabo of Porter’s City Tavern in downtown Raleigh the winner of the Chef’s Choice Award. Chef Sabo created a Flourless Chocolate Cake with Tar heel Soaked Cherries using Hinnant’s sweetest red wine, the “Tar heel Red.” Porter’s is one of the Urban Food Group’s collection of fine dining establishments in Raleigh.

The “Peoples Choice Award,” selected by a vote from the attending crowd, went to Chef Frank Peters of Catering Works in Raleigh. Chef Peters used Hinnant’s “Southern Red” wine to create Tournedos of Pork, Hinnant Vineyard’s Southern Red Muscadine Glaze, Strawberry Consommé, Spiced Crispy Bacon, and Asher Blue Cheese, all with ingredients from local sources.

Chef Manny Froehlich of the Goldsboro Country Club received an Honorable Mention for his use of Pomegranate wine to make a Duck Ballotine. Chef Joyce R. Jenkins of The Serving Spoon, a catering company in Pine Level, also received an Honorable Mention for using “Pack House Gold” wine to create her Pack House Gold Tandoori Chicken.

“It was a magical evening,” said event planner Debbie Valentine of RHA Howell. “We are so grateful to our wonderful sponsors, executive chefs, parents, and staff who gave generously and worked tirelessly for this great event.  It was a privilege to work with Wes Dills from Hinnant Family Vineyards and Tim Sitter of US Foodservice, our Grand Benefactors. Fallon Benefits Group, Southern Pharmacy Services, PFMI, Jim and Donna Panton, SCA Tena, and Morcom Medical Consultants were also extremely important to our success. We raised over $18,500, which is incredible for a first time event considering the economy, and we can not wait until next year!”

About RHA Howell:
RHA Howell 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. For more information visit

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