Virginia is for Lovers Culinary Challenge

  • 2015 Virginia Culinary Challenge

    Championship rotator

  • March kicks off the Virginia is for Lovers Culinary Challenge for 2015.  

    Restaurants, locals and visitors nominated their favorite entrée for the 2015 Virginia is for Lovers Culinary Challenge. The dishes were critiqued by three judges who know and love Virginia's culinary product. From there, each entrée was placed into a bracket style vote-off to narrow the field to 16. Voting continues until one remains. Who will be crowned the "Virginia is for Lovers Culinary Challenge Champion" for 2015?


    The final vote will determine the 2015 Virginia is for Lovers Culinary Challenge Champion!

    Congratulations to our winner - FoodE of Fredericksburg!

    Culinary Challenge Winner
    Chef Joy Crump presents her Chicken and Waffles.

    FoodE - Chicken and Waffles



    Horseshoe   FoodE
    49.1%   50.9%
    2606 votes   2701 votes
    Vote Now  
  • #CulinaryChallenge

    three judges

    Culinary Challenge Judges

    Meet the judges who will taste and comment on each plate at the cook off, offering critical information.

    Virginia Culinary Challenge Judges
    final four chefs

    Final Four Chefs and Their Dishes

    More than 25,000 votes have been cast to arrive at these final four entrées. Meet the Chefs.

    Virginia Culinary Challenge Final Four
    Mount Vernon Re-enactors

    Visit Virginia Distilleries for Spirited Travel this Fall

    October 20, 2015

    Virginia’s tradition of fine distilled spirits dates back to Colonial times. George Washington himself was one of America’s great early ...

    Read More
    Fall Beer on McAfee Knob

    Nine Virginia Cities You Need to Visit this Fall

    October 15, 2015

    Peak color is fast approaching on the western side of the Commonwealth, which means it’s high time you take a scenic drive to enjoy ...

    Read More
    peach bread pudding_chrisdscott_Photography

    Eat Like a Local this Fall in Virginia

    October 05, 2015

    Tasty fall-flavored menu items are easy to find, but where do the locals go to get their fill of not only seasonal tastes, but ...

    Read More
    Starr Hill Brewery

    Eight Virginia-Made Items for Your Next Tailgate

    September 29, 2015

    It’s football season in Virginia, and no Saturday down south would be complete without an epic tailgate spread. Take your tailgating game ...

    Read More
    Pleasure House Oysters, Chef’s Table Tour

    Farm to Fork: Foodie Experiences You Won’t Forget

    September 21, 2015

    There’s a story in every meal. “Which farmer planted, tended, and harvested these beans?” “Is this local, pastured ...

    Read More
  • Culinary Challenge Championship

    Round Four - Championship - Voting Open


    Round THREE - Final 4 - Voting is Closed

    Click to See Round Three Results

    Group 1:

    Horseshoe Restaurant
    Apple, Brie, and Bacon Burger 2392 votes, 64.3% - ADVANCES
    Comfort - 5 Fat Fried Chicken 1326 votes, 35.7%

    Group 2:

    FoodE - Chicken and Waffles 1824 votes, 52.1% - ADVANCES
    The White Dog Bistro - Island Clams "Espagnole" 1674 votes, 47.9%



    Round TWO - Enticing 8 - Voting is Closed

    Click to See Round Two Results

    Group 1:

    Horseshoe Restaurant - Apple, Brie, and Bacon Burger 1878 votes, 65.8% - ADVANCES
    Waterman's Surfside Grill - Crabcakes 977 votes, 34.2%

    Group 2:

    Comfort - 5 Fat Fried Chicken 1401 votes, 56.2% - ADVANCES
    Waypoint Seafood & Grill - Waypoint Oysters 1092 votes, 43.8%

    Group 3:

    FoodE - Chicken and Waffles 1493 votes, 54.4% - ADVANCES
    The Waterwheel Restaurant - Highland County Mountain Trout 1251 votes, 45.6%

    Group 4:

    Bootleggers Cafe - Double Smoked Fatty 1001 votes, 42%
    The White Dog Bistro - Island Clams "Espagnole" 1380 votes, 58% - ADVANCES



    Round ONE - Savory 16

    Click to See Round One Results

    Group 1:

    Horseshoe Restaurant - Apple, Brie, and Bacon Burger 718 votes, 64.2% - ADVANCES
    The Shanty - Oyster Po Boy 400 votes, 35.8%

    Group 2:

    Waterman's Surfside Grill - Crabcakes 504 votes, 54.8% - ADVANCES
    Todd Jurich's Bistro - Baked Stuffed Local Flounder & Lump Crab “Norfolk” 415 votes, 45.2%

    Group 3:

    Comfort - 5 Fat Fried Chicken 492 votes, 51.7% - ADVANCES
    BISTRO 1888 - Bourbon Molasses Porterhouse Pork 460 votes, 48.3%

    Group 4:

    Waypoint Seafood & Grill - Waypoint Oysters 610 votes, 59.3%- ADVANCES
    Ford's Fish Shack - Oysters 419 votes, 40.7%

    Group 5:

    FoodE - Chicken and Waffles 511 votes, 52.3%- ADVANCES
    The Red Hen - Red Hen Bolognese 466 votes, 47.7%

    Group 6:

    The Waterwheel Restaurant - Highland County Mountain Trout 484 votes, 53.2%- ADVANCES
    Zynodoa - Crispy Cast Iron Seared Mountain Trout 426 votes, 46.8%

    Group 7:

    Cuz's Uptown Barbeque - Hunka Hunka Large Smoked Prime Rib 426 votes, 45.0%
    Bootleggers Cafe - Double Smoked Fatty 521 votes, 55.0% - ADVANCES

    Group 8:

    Saucy's BBQ 389 votes, 42.7%
    The White Dog Bistro - Island Clams "Espagnole" 521 votes, 57.3% - ADVANCES



    The Final 32


    Shenandoah Valley

      Dish Description Restaurant City
    Crispy Cast Iron Seared Mountain Trout

    Crispy Cast Iron Seared Mountain Trout

    Served with artisan bacon, braised fennel, smoked ham gravy, grilled shrimp and Wade's Mill (Raphine, VA) bruleed cornbread croutons. Trout sourced from Casta Line Trout Farm in Goshen, VA and The Rock Barn in Arrington, VA.



    Cristina's Crazy Cuban Burrito

    Cristina's Crazy Cuban Burrito

    Locally raised, slow cooked, pulled pork with cheese, jalapeños, pickled onions, avocado, black beans and chipotle Aioli all in a flour tortilla. Served with a side of baby greens grown in Cristina's garden and farm with her fresh, homemade cilantro vinaigrette. All ingredients are locally sourced.

    Cristina's Cafe


    Highland County Mountain Trout

    Highland County Mountain Trout

    Cornmeal crusted and pan-fried. Served with sweet potato and andouille hash, braised baby kale, spaghetti squash, toasted walnuts, and lemon beurre blanc.

    The Waterwheel Restaurant

    Warm Springs

    Red Hen Bolognese

    Red Hen Bolognese

    A house made pasta with local veggies and Lexington, VA's Buffalo Creek beef.

    The Red Hen


    Bella Luna Wood Fired Pizza

    Prosciutto and Arugula Pizza

    Wood fired pizza topped with tomato puree, Edward's (Surry, VA) Surryano ham, mozzarella, parmesan and fresh Shenandoah Grower's Arugula.

    Bella Luna Wood Fired Pizza


    Lucky Leaping Water Pork Loin

    Leaping Water Pork Loin

    Moist, flavorful and delicious pork over Buck Wheat Polenta with Braised Beet Greens and a Rhubarb Gastrique




    Central Virginia

      Dish Description Restaurant City
    Smoked Spruce Creek Farm Quarter Chicken

    Smoked Spruce Creek Farm Quarter Chicken

    Spruce Creek Farm (Roseland, VA) slow smoked quarter chicken with house-made sausage, Turnip The Beets (Gladstone, VA) spinach and creamy Woodson's Mill (Roseland, VA) grits.

    Wild Wolf Brewing Company


    Blue Mountain Pizza

    Bratwurst, Apple and Onion Pizza

    Double H Farm bratwurst (Wingina, VA), caramelized onion, apples, mozzarella, fresh marinara and balsamic reduction on our house-made Hungry Hill Farm (Shipman, VA) honey wheat thin crust.

    Blue Mountain Brewery


    Comfort 5 Fat Fried Chicken

    5 Fat Fried Chicken
    Final Four  

    Fried Chicken cooked in a cast iron skillet using country ham fat, chicken fat, bacon fat, duck fat and pork fat.



    Saucys BBQ

    Saucy’s BBQ

    Some of the best bbq in the south according to Southern Living Magazine. Pulled pork that melts in your mouth.

    Saucy’s Walk-Up BBQ



    Blue Ridge Highlands

      Dish Description Restaurant City
    Double Smoked Fatty

    Double Smoked Fatty

    Local ground beef, pork and veal wrapped in applewood smoked bacon and stuffed with house smoked pulled pork, cheddar and jack cheeses, onions and homemade pickled peppers. Finished with tomato gravy over smashed potatoes and petite green beans.

    Bootleggers Cafe

    Rocky Mount

    The Harvest Table Applewood  Smoked Turkey Dinner

    Applewood Smoked Turkey Dinner

    Uber-local Virginia turkey and vegetables are put over the top with the addition of cornbread made from the "bloody butcher" variety, a deep red heirloom corn from Virginia. The turkey, peas AND cornbread are all smoked, making the dish earthy and delicious.

    The Harvest Table


    Pork Ribs Plate

    Pork Ribs Plate

    Rib plate comes with 1/4 rack of ribs and two sides, like the slow-simmered baked beans and homemade banana pudding.

    Parks Mill


    Cracker Crusted Trout with Orzo Salad

    Cracker Crusted Trout with Orzo Salad

    The cracker crusted trout is perfectly cooked and served with a salad complement.

    128 Pecan


    The Palisades Pork Chop

    Palisades Pork Chop

    This pork chop is thick-cut with a chai tea brine, maple bourbon glaze and chipotle pecans.

    The Palisades Restaurant



    Northern Virginia

      Dish Description Restaurant City
    Culinary Challenge Nominee

    Aromatic Crusted Local Rockfish with a Chesapeake Crab Reduction and Chevre Cheese Potato Gratin

    Brunoise of red pepper, squash and zucchini is crusted on the rockfish, giving it a colorful confetti crust. Add to that a reduction of a rich crab stock with crabs from the Chesapeake Bay. Served with local goat cheese and red bliss potato gratin, and garnished with spicy peanuts and pickle fennel.



    BRABO Dry Aged Beef Brisket

    Shenandoah Dry Aged Beef Brisket

    Served with sweet potato puree, root vegetable ragout and stout jus.

    BRABO by Robert Wiedmaier


    BBQ Ham Biscuit

    BBQ Ham Biscuit

    Monk's BBQ ham on a bacon and pepper biscuit. The sauce is a honey viognier mustard.

    Monk’s BBQ


    Chicken and Waffles

    Chicken and Waffles
    Championship badge small

    Buttermilk fried chicken served with a golden housemade waffle, whipped maple butter and warm Virginia maple syrup.



    Trummer's on Main peanut soup

    Virginia Peanut and foie gras soup with Quince mostarda & espelette pepper

    Silky foie gras-laden Virginia peanut soup garnished with a bright quince mostarda and espelette pepper.

    Trummer’s on Main


    Ford's Fish Shack Virginia Oysters

    Virginia Oysters

    Local Virginia oysters - James River, Watch House Point, Old Black Salt, Misty Point, Rappahannock - are served on the half shell with cocktail sauce, horseradish, mignonette sauce and lemon wedges.

    Ford’s Fish Shack



    Coastal Virginia: Hampton Roads

      Dish Description Restaurant City
    Todd Jurichs Flounder Lump Crab Norfolk

    Baked Stuffed Local Flounder & Lump Crab “Norfolk”

    A truly Norfolk dish, the baked, stuffed local flounder and lump crab are garnished with lemon butter and farm greens.

    Todd Jurich’s Bistro


    Waypoint Oysters

    Waypoint Oysters

    Local York River Oysters baked with spinach, Edwards (Surry, VA) ham, local crab meat, topped with hollandaise and baked off.

    Waypoint Seafood & Grill


    Sydz PoNo Shrimp and Grits

    Sydz PoNo Shrimp and Grits

    Stone ground grits cooked slow and creamy then topped with gulf jumbo shrimp, tomato, pimento cheese, house sausage and fennel.

    Stove the Restaurant


    Oceans and Ale Seafood Mac n Cheese

    Seafood Mac n Cheese

    Macaroni tossed with lobster, crab, scallops and shrimp in a creamy three cheese sauce.

    Oceans and Ale


    Waterman's Crabcakes


    Two premium lump crabcakes made with traditional herbs and spices, broiled and served with our roasted red pepper aioli.

    Waterman’s Surfside Grille

    Virginia Beach


    Coastal Virginia: Eastern Shore

      Dish Description Restaurant City
    Culinary Challenge Nominee

    Oyster Po Boy

    Shanty Signature Dish! Cajun fried local oysters with sesame slaw and our house remoulade on a sub roll.

    The Shanty

    Cape Charles


    Southern Virginia

      Dish Description Restaurant City
    Horseshoe Apple Brie Burger

    Apple, Brie and Bacon Burger
    Championship badge small

    Ground beef from The Taylor-Wright Farm (Brodnax, VA), topped with whiskey caramelized apples, brie cheese and crisp bacon on a whole wheat bun. Fresh arugula and honey mayo made with local honey from Yerby's (Brodnax, VA) finishes it.

    Horseshoe Restaurant

    South Hill

    Bistro 1888 Bourbon Molasses Porterhouse Pork

    Bourbon Molasses Porterhouse Pork

    A 16-ounce double-cut, marinated and grilled chop is served with gingered cranberry applesauce, honey mashed sweet potatoes and haricots verts.

    BISTRO 1888

    South Boston

    Culinary Challenge Nominee

    Roasted Veggie Pasta

    Roasted green and yellow squash, eggplant, mushrooms and sweet peppers are served with our homemade tomato sauce and Gemelli pasta. House salad included with your choice of homemade dressing and a Ciabatta roll with our boursin cheese spread.

    Jake’s on Main



    Chesapeake Bay

      Dish Description Restaurant City
    White Dog Bistro Island Clams Espagnole

    Island Clams “Espagnole”
    Final Four

    Steamed Littleneck Clams complimented with fresh made Pasta and Spanish Chorizo skinned Sausage in a Spicy Port Wine reduction, Demi-Glacé all tossed in an enhanced fire roasted Tomato Sauce

    The White Dog Bistro



    Heart of Appalachia

      Dish Description Restaurant City
    Cuzs Hunka Hunka Large Prime Rib

    Hunka Hunka Large Smoked Prime Rib

    The smoked large prime rib is around two pounds of choice beef, bone in, served with a slow-cooked burgundy gravy. The whole rib roast is covered with spices and smoked three hours in a BBQ pit over hardwood harvested from the farm until perfectly medium rare in the center. The rib roast is then finished and kept warm in the woodfired oven and sliced to order fresh for each customer.

    Cuz’s Uptown Barbeque

    Pounding Mill