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Small Bites, Big Flavor

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At the first annual Small State, Small Bites food competition and fundraiser for MOT Charter School, small dishes with big flavor took center stage.

On April 29, at the Buena Vista Mansion in New Castle, 10 local chefs served up bite-sized dishes ranging from panko-crusted Atlantic salmon topped with mango salsa to duck leg rillettes on a cinnamon-raisin bagel. The bites were judged by presentation, creativity, taste and portion size. As one of the judges, I was treated to innovative and tasty dishes every few minutes.

During the judging process, it was kept a secret which chefs prepared which dishes. After 10 rounds, the judging team—including Kita Roberts of Girl Carnivore, Tom Craft of 2 Fat Guys, Matt Sullivan of Good Taste, Linda Jennings (MOT’s head of school) and ConnecTheDot (the event sponsor)—unanimously agreed that the winner was a flavorful Mexican cilantro-lime shrimp and grits. The winner, chef Joshua Burgos of Del Pez in Newark, received a $500 cash prize and a plaque.

In addition to the shrimp and grits, my other favorites included the honey-ricotta blini with cider-braised chicken and prosciutto pop rocks (chef Alex Schiff of Cantwell’s Tavern), as well as the lemon-garlic shrimp skewered with Spanish chorizo and pineapple (chef Alison Lloyd of Aqua Sol). With almost every dish, I had the same reaction: Give me more. One bite was not enough for these local chefs’ miniature masterpieces.

But this event was about more than food. According to PTO president Kim McNeil, the school wanted to create an annual event that would raise funds to support the needs of their student body, like the building of a gymnasium. In just a few months, the PTO team put together Small State, Small Bites—which they hope will become an annual event.

For $50, foodies and community members alike wined and dined while bidding on local deals and getaways to support MOT Charter School. I, for one, already can’t wait for next year. 

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