WV Culinary Team: Plan your Restaurant Week for good food – and a good cause

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It’s the most wonderful time of the year.

Not Christmas — that was last month.

It’s almost Charleston Restaurant Week: The one week of the year where you can dine out at one of Charleston’s amazing local restaurants and receive an appetizer, entree and dessert at a prix fixe dinner price of $25 or $35.

The weeklong event will be held Monday, Jan. 27, through Saturday, Feb. 1, and is organized by Buzz Food Service, a locally owned and operated food distributor.

In full disclosure, I volunteer for the committee that organizes Charleston Restaurant Week. It’s one of my favorite events of the year, and I’m honored to be part of the organization.

During this time, restaurants may feature one of their most popular dishes to give everyone a chance to try it. Or maybe they’ll go out on a limb and work with a unique flavor not typically found on their menu.

That means you have an opportunity to try a new dish or revisit an old favorite. Maybe enjoy a pricey dinner at a bargain price or take on an adventurous flavor.

But this week is about more than that. You also have an opportunity to support local businesses during an otherwise slow time of year.

Charleston Restaurant Week began in 2014, just three weeks after the Elk River chemical spill, which compromised tap water for the Charleston area. Restaurants were dealt a blow to business with people being wary to drink the water or eat from dishes that were washed with it — even after given the all clear. Charleston Restaurant Week helped the public return to dining out and supporting the industry.

According to Buzz Food Service, restaurants throughout the years have reported serving more than 10,000 meals during the course of the six-day event. The total economic impact — which includes revenue from meals, bar sales, gratuity, taxes and incidentals — is estimated to exceed $500,000 each year. These numbers continue to grow each year.

So, make those reservations. Plan out your dishes. Enjoy a delicious appetizer, entree and dessert. Try something new. And splurge a little. Your money is going right back into our communities and supporting those who live and work here.

That’s part of what makes Charleston — and by extension, West Virginia — such a special place. We support each other and come together in communities when needed.

For me, there’s no better way to support your community and local businesses than by breaking bread. Enjoying a housemade pasta dish with a savory broth and local mushrooms all while putting money back into the local economy? It’s a win-win in my eyes.

Candace Nelson is a marketing professional living in Charleston. She is the author of the book “The West Virginia Pepperoni Roll” from WVU Press. In her free time, Nelson blogs about Appalachian food culture at CandaceLately.com. Find her on Twitter at @Candace07 or email CandaceRNelson@gmail.com.