RICHMOND – February kicks off the Virginia is for Lovers Culinary Challenge for 2015. Restaurants, locals and visitors alike can nominate their favorite entrée. Virginia Tourism Corporation has enlisted the help of three Virginia culinary experts to help narrow the pool to 32. Those successful nominees will be placed into a vote-off to narrow the field to 16. From there a series of head-to-head voting challenges will break down the nominees in traditional bracket style fashion until two remain. The final vote will determine the 2015 Virginia is for Lovers Culinary Challenge Champion. This is the second year Virginia Tourism Corporation has hosted the competition.
2014 was a banner year for Virginia’s food scene, putting the Commonwealth on the map as a bona fide culinary destination. From James Beard nominations to record-breaking wine sales and visitor spending, Virginia is making a name for itself as a premiere travel destination to eat and drink your way through a vacation. In fact, Esquire magazine named Virginia as the Top Food Region of 2014 – one of the many national and regional accolades Virginia restaurants and chefs received last year. The Culinary Challenge Competition is yet another way to shine a light on the exciting culinary landscape in Virginia.
Nominations will be accepted on Virginia.org’s Culinary Challenge submission page.
“The Culinary Challenge is a way to celebrate Virginia as an elite East Coast destination for travelers looking for local flavor. Virginia offers an exceptional authentic culinary experience that is catching the attention of the nation. Our emerging culinary scene is igniting passion from locals and visitors alike, spurring exciting conversations about Virginia chefs, purveyors, wineries, and craft breweries,” said Rita McClenny, President & CEO of Virginia Tourism Corporation. “What makes Virginia so special is the powerful influence of regional flavor and a rich heritage which offers a distinctive sense-of-place. Virginia boasts hearty mountain food, seven distinctive oyster regions, top-notch contributions from farmers across the state, and a longstanding tradition of Southern influence. Virginia has proven that we’re much more than ham and peanuts. We’re definitely having a food moment – and we think it’s here to stay.”
About Virginia’s Culinary Scene
Virginia’s surging restaurant and bar scene propelled the Commonwealth to new heights in the opinion of leading food and drink journals in 2014. Virginia chefs elbowed their way into the top echelon aided enormously by top Virginia-based purveyors in homegrown meat, seafood and produce along with artisanal cheese makers, bakers and salumeria. Craft brewers in Virginia have created a sensation with a collection of top ribbons in national and international competition, joining Virginia wine, cider and spirits in elevating the state’s long-standing reputation for good things in a bottle. All told, Virginia has staked its place at the table in any national conversation about “America’s best” food and drink.
Esquire Magazine named “Virginia the Food Region of 2014,” touting farm-raised oysters in Coastal Virginia, Bordeaux-style wine in Virginia’s Piedmont, cider crafted from heirloom apples in Southwest Virginia, artisanal breads made from heritage grains in Richmond, and five-star dining in the small town of Staunton as some of the culinary experiences that make Virginia a top American culinary destination.
Wine Enthusiast Magazine named Charlottesville one of “America’s 5 New Foodie Cities.”
Departures Magazine named Richmond the “Next Great American Food City.”
USA Today’s feature story “Virginia is for (oyster) Lovers,” highlighted the resurgence of Virginia’s oyster industry concluded that Virginia has returned to major player status. In August, Virginia governor Terry McAuliffe proclaimed Virginia the Oyster Capital of the East Coast.
Food & Wine Magazine touted the quality of Virginia wine in an article on “The Best Wineries to Visit in Virginia.”
Draft Magazine listed Virginia among “Four States to Beer-Tour Now.”
For more information on Virginia’s exciting culinary scene, please click here.