South Carolina Chefs Stage a Showdown Over Savory Southern Sensations

Celebrity chef Darren McGrady is judging a culinary showdown between 3 local chefs

Chef Mike Davis prepared a shrimp, strawberry, and goat cheese salad at the 2011 Famously Hot Chef Showdown.

South Carolina is revving up its competitive culinary spirit at the Famously Hot Chef Showdown on Oct. 11 at the State Fair in Columbia, S.C. Three top chefs from local Columbia restaurants are being chosen by the public to compete for the title of "Famously Hot Master Chef."

The challenge is to create a gourmet Southern-style three-course meal, including an appetizer, an entrée with a starch and a vegetable, and a dessert. The chefs must also incorporate into their dishes 10 mystery ingredients that come from local sustainable sources.

Last year's mystery ingredients included farro, Carolina gold rice, goat cheese, lamb, quail, shrimp, honey, collard greens, arugula sprouts, and radishes. Last year’s victor, chef Mike Davis from Terra, used the ingredients to whip up winning dishes, such as a shrimp, strawberry, and goat cheese salad and a deep-fried apple pie with cinnamon glaze.

Judging this year's showdown is celebrity chef Darren McGrady, who served as personal chef for 15 years to British royals, such as Queen Elizabeth II, Prince William, and Prince Harry.

On Oct. 10, guests are invited to a private pre-Showdown wine tasting, where chef McGrady will host a meet and greet.