Redfire Grill & Steakhouse Claims Burger Battle Victory and More

PLUS: Dwain Kalup signs on as chef de cuisine at Domaine Hudson and Mona Lisa welcomes Delaware native Bruce Neyers 
of Napa’s Neyers Vineyards for a winemaker’s dinner Oct. 3.

Here’s the Beef

Who took top honors at the Wilmington Burger Battle? Redfire Grill & Steakhouse nabbed the Critics Choice award. Union City Grille retained the title of People’s Choice, taking home a trophy for the second year in a row. Full results:

Critic’s Choice: Winner, Redfire Grill & Steakhouse; second, (tie) Nage and Union City Grille; third, BBC Tavern; with finalists Buckley’s Tavern and Ernest & Scott Taproom. People’s Choice: Winner, Union City Grille; second, Redfire Grill & Steakhouse, third Chelsea Tavern.

The burgers (do try this at home):

  • Redfire Grill & Steakhouse: beef burger with cheddar, maple-pepper bacon
  • Union City Grille: Angus burger with heirloom tomatoes
  • Nage: ground prime rib with smoked onion, Gouda, mushroom duxelle
  • BBC Tavern: bison burger sliders
  • Buckley’s Tavern: Buckley Burger with applewood-smoked bacon, English Farmhouse cheddar, lettuce and tomato
  • Ernest & Scott Taproom: boneless short rib-chuck-brisket beef blend on brioche with red onion marmalade, sauteed shiitakes, Bourbon barbecue sauce, crispy onion, bacon, tarragon-truffle aioli and chipotle aioli
  • Chelsea Tavern: beef burger with housemade basil mozzarella, local tomatoes, WIT beer-balsamic reduction, basil aioli
  • 2 Fat Guys: Mac ‘N’ Cheese slider with all-American sauce (red pepper, ketchup, mustard, relish)
  • Cantwell’s Tavern: lamb burger with Thai chilis, roasted garlic taziki and Manchego cheese
  • Jake’s Wayback Burgers: Carolina Burger
  • Kid Shelleen’s: turkey burger with avocado, pea shoots and tomato-chili relish
  • Kildare’s Irish Pub: Sizzling burger with chipotle mayo and pepper Jack cheese
  • Pizza By Elizabeths: Hot Dog Burger
  • Ulysses Gastropub: venison burger with pickled vegetables
  • World Cafe Live at the Queen: beef burger with housemade whiskey bun, Cambazola cheese and onion jam
  • Home Grown Café: housemade veggie burger (brown rice, beets, chocolate, avocado and smoked mushrooms) with arugula and pickled red onion; and Angus beef burger with chocolate-dipped bacon with chili pepper spice

Presented by the Kenny Family Foundation, the second burger battle went down on Aug. 24 at Twin Lakes Brewing Company in Wilmington. The event raised about $7,000 for Ministry of Caring’s Emmanuel Dining Room. The event was also sponsored by Out & About Magazine, free + abel, Delmarva Power, ZZHouse and Burning Brainstorm. Plans are in the works for the third annual event next summer. Interested restaurants can contact Potential guests, sponsors, media and others can contact or visit

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Chef Swap

Dwain Kalup has joined Domaine Hudson in Wilmington as chef de cuisine after a year at the Michelin Star Blackbird Restaurant in Chicago, where he worked under 2013 James Beard Foundation Outstanding Chef Paul Kahan. Kalup brings a refined, creative, organized approach to the Domaine Hudson kitchen, a commitment to local and regional ingredients and a passion for innovative, changing menus. He is especially known for his delicate hand with fresh-made pastas, his creative approach to fish dishes and his ability to plan and execute creative menus using fine ingredients.
No stranger to the Delaware area, Kalup was part of Harry’s Hospitality Group, working as chef de cuisine at Kid Shelleen’s Charcoal House and earlier, as sous chef at Harry’s Savoy Grill and at Harry’s Seafood Grill before moving to Blackbird. Prior to joining Harry’s, he was a line cook at The City Tavern in Philadelphia. A 2004 graduate of the Art Institute of Philadelphia with a degree in culinary arts, Kalup was named the school’s Best Youth Culinarian in 2004 and received the Rising Star award that same year. In 2011, he cooked at James Beard House as guest of chef Walter Staib, the Emmy Award winning chef at Phlly’s City Tavern and host of the PBS Show “A Taste of History.” “Dwain Kalup brings a fresh spirit of creativity, a passion for fine food and a commitment to taking Domaine Hudson to new levels of culinary excellence that we think our patrons will come to love,” 
says owner Mike Ross. Look for a new fall menu from Kalup soon. 655-9463,

Taste Newark Now—Wow

Prepare for the 10th annual Taste of Newark on Sept. 29 on the lawn of the University of Delaware’s Old College Lawn off Main Street. Enjoy food from more than 50 Newark restaurants, accompanied by 30 of the finest wineries and wine distributors in the area. This year the festival will host David Puser, executive chef of the Swiss School of Tourism and Hospitality. Puser began his lifelong fascination with cooking after his first job as a busboy in California. He spent four years in the Coast Guard aboard an ice breaker before earning enough tuition to fund his studies at the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, N.Y. Puser worked and traveled widely until he landed in Switzerland in 1989. He has been director of the Swiss School of Tourism for the past 10 years. He’ll be among the chefs offering cooking demonstrations. Newark chefs will compete in the annual “Iron Chef” style Battle of the Chefs. They include Anthony Carnevale from 16 Mile Taphouse, Jeovany Valle from Caffé Gelato, Mark Chopko from Courtyard Newark, Donny Merrill Jr. from Skipjack and Jeff Matyger from Taverna Rustic Italian. It will be quite a competition, and quite a day. Tickets sell out quickly, so rev up that debit card now. 368-2561, 

California Schemin’

Here’s a nifty twist: Mona Lisa Euro Bistro in Wilmington welcomes Delaware native Bruce Neyers 
of Neyers Vineyards in Napa Valley for a special dinner with Neyers’ Rhone-style wines and 
wines from the south of France, including Vaucluse and Beaujolais. The five courses and seven wines include: Kermit Lynch VDP Vaucluse Blanc and Kermit Lynch VDP Vaucluse Rouge during the reception, followed by California bruschetta of crawfish, tomatoes and chervil on avocado with white balsamic syrup served with Neyers Chardonnay 304. Next up, vol-au-vent of quail in a mushroom-dijon cream wrapped in puff pastry paired with Marcel Lapierre Raisins Gaulois Beaujolais. Course three: bone-in venison ribeye with venison-Port demi-glace, gratin of Yukon potato, butternut squash Gratin and Beemster Gouda with Pancetta Brussels Sprouts served with Faury VDP Syrah Collins Rhodaniennes. And it just gets better from there. See for yourself. The special dinner with the winemaker happens on Oct. 3. Reserve soon. 888-2201

Doing Good by Eating Well

Here are three great local restaurants participating in the James Beard Foundation’s Taste America Local Dish Challenge: the outstanding House of William & Merry and Matt Haley’s Catch 54 in Fenwick Island and Bluecoast Seafood Grill in Bethany. The challenge: Create dishes that showcase the best of their local food scene. Chef Bill Hoffman of The House of William and Merrie will present Scallops and Oysters, a dish with pan-seared Jersey scallops, local corn, butternut squash and oyster mushrooms with a white-truffle vinaigrette. “This event is a perfect opportunity to show off the beauty of our local harvest, and to bring attention to the James Beard Foundation and Meals on Wheels Delaware,” Hoffman says. “Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence and passion.” Corporate chef Doug Ruley of Haley’s SoDel Concept has created baby beets and Brussels sprouts panzanella with soy, yuzu and truffle. One dollar from every dish sold through Oct. 31 will be donated to the JBF Taste America Education Drive, which supports educational programs including the JBF Food Conference, the JBF Leadership Awards and the Chefs Boot Camp for Policy & Change. When you dine at the restaurants, take your phone and prepare to snap a photo of the dish and post to Instagram. The city with the highest number of Instagram posts with the # of their city wins a $10,000 donation to a local charity. If #Hockessin wins, it will donate to Meals on Wheels Delaware. If it is #Rehoboth, the charity twill be the Global Delaware Fund.  “The Global Delaware Fund works closely with the Delaware Food Bank, Cape Henlopen Food Basket and Good Earth Market to fill the gaps in the social safety net here in Delaware, so the opportunity to do more by supporting the James Beard Foundation’s Taste America Education Drive made sense for us,” Haley says. More than 50 top restaurants from around country have joined the challenge, including Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s Perry St. in New York City, Jenn Louis’ Lincoln in Portland and Nate Whiting’s Tristan in Charleston. So eat out often, and don’t forget those special dishes when you do.

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