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The Food Guy: New taco fest, celebrity chef dinner series on the way

So, what did YOU do this past weekend?

I spent the past few days hanging out with celebrity chefs, restaurant owners and national food writers at the prestigious James Beard Awards Gala in Chicago, considered to be the “Oscars” of the culinary world.

In addition to announcing the winners of this year’s coveted James Beard restaurant and chef awards, the weekend of festivities included a veritable buffet of receptions, dinners and parties with plenty of glitz and glam.

Did I attend many of them? You bet your sweet basil I did — and it was a weekend for the ages!

Stay tuned to next Wednesday’s Charleston Gazette-Mail for a bite-by-bite recap of the event, with plenty of photos to boot.


Who’s ready for some tacos?

And not just tacos, but a new downtown street festival featuring nearly a dozen restaurants and community groups serving up a variety of tacos with craft beer, live music, dancing, contests, a kids zone and more.

That’s all on tap at Black Sheep Burrito & Brew’s first-ever Charleston Taco Festival, taking place June 29 in conjunction with the Capitol Street Art Fair as part of FestivALL. The event will run from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. that day along the 300 block of Capitol Street (between Lee and Washington streets) and in Davis Park.

Groups competing for “top taco” honors include Mi Cocina de Amor, Books and Brews, Melange, Whiskey Taco, Twisted Taco, Elements at The Quarrier Diner, Manna Meal, CAMC Foundation, Rainbow Pride of West Virginia, Piedmont Elementary School and the Kanawha-Charleston Humane Association.

In addition, Black Sheep will be serving Mexican street corn and will set up a beer tent in Davis Park serving up Bad Shepherd’s lineup of tasty locally made brews.

Live music throughout the day will be provided by Dividends, Parachute Brigade and Tony Harrah, plus winners will be crowned in best taco, best dog taco costume, taco eating and hot-pepper eating competitions.

General admission tickets for the event go on sale this Friday and include event entry, all entertainment and your first beer, soft drink or water. These tickets are $15 if purchased Friday through Monday, then $20 after that. Premium tickets include all of the above benefits, plus two drinks and two taco tickets. Those are $25 this Friday through Monday, then $30 thereafter. Additional taco tickets can be purchased for $3 each and children 10 and under are admitted free with a paid adult.

Participating non-profit groups will keep all of their earnings from the event, while restaurants will give 50 percent of their proceeds to a pool of money that will be divided among local charities after the event.

Black Sheep also will donate $1 from the sale of each beer to that same pool. Since this past February, the restaurant also has been donating $1 from the sale of select beers to a different charity each month as part of its new “Pints for a Purpose” campaign.

“Charleston has embraced and supported us for the past five years,” Black Sheep general manager Kevin Madison told me, “so we wanted to think of something we could do to help give back to the community. Pints for a Purpose has been very successful and a taco festival seemed like such a fun idea, and it was something the city didn’t have. We really hope people have a great time.”

Tickets may be purchased starting this Friday at, at Black Sheep locations in Charleston and Huntington, or at a special booth at this year’s Taste-of-ALL Charleston food festival at Four Points by Sheraton on May 25.

For more information on the event, visit


From one awesome new food event to another, Kanawha Valley Senior Services is hosting a month-long series of Celebrity Chef Dinners this June.

From 6 to 8 p.m. every Monday night in June, a different chef will prepare and serve dinner for up to 72 guests at 600 Florida St. in Charleston, which is the site of the Charleston Area Nutrition Site (CANS) operated by Kanawha Valley Senior Services.

And just who will be in the kitchen those nights?

Café Cimino’s Tim Urbanic will kick things off June 3, Soho’s Amie Dodson steps behind the stove June 10, Best of Crete’s Mike Birurakis is up June 17 and Bridge Road Bistro’s John Wright closes out the series on June 24.

“We are so grateful to have these talented culinary artists agree to volunteer their time to showcase their cooking skills and help the people we serve,” said Kanawha Valley Senior Services Executive Director Paulette Justice.

Tickets, which are $30 for each dinner or $100 for all four, can be obtained by calling 304-348-0707 or emailing


Back to Black Sheep, the restaurant on the corner of Summers and Quarrier streets unveiled a new expanded beverage menu this past Friday that includes the same popular margaritas, mojitos, mules and sangrias you love, along with a batch of new specialty cocktails.

There’s a delicious Sangrita Cocktail with silver tequila, achiote paste, orange juice and Bloody Mary mix garnished with a sea salt-chili-lime rim, basil leaves and orange zest. Think of it as a delicious Bloody with a citrusy, herbal twist. I liked it!

A new Smoky Yucatan features mescal, smoked sugar, tamarind puree, house sour and orange juice topped with salt, chili and lime.

And the Caipirinha-inspired Brazilian blends Cachaca rum, smoked sugar, house sour and lime.

Anybody else thirsty?

Steven Keith writes a weekly food column for the Charleston Gazette-Mail. He can be reached at 304-380-6096 or by e-mail at You can also follow him on Facebook as “WV Food Guy” and on Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest as “WVFoodGuy”.

Funerals for Monday, September 16, 2019

Campbell, James - 2 p.m., St. Anthony Catholic Church, Charleston.

Chaney, Doris - 6 p.m., Ridenour Lake Gazebo, Nitro.

Conger, Jacqueline - 2 p.m., Roush Funeral Home, Ravenswood.

Daugherty, Roy - Noon, Deal Funeral Home, Point Pleasant. 

De Roo, Mary - 11 a.m., Blessed Sacrament Church, South Charleston.

Garrett, Barbara - 1 p.m., Grace Episcopal Church, Ravenswood.

Jennings, Betty - 4 p.m., Chapman Funeral Home, Hurricane.

Legg, Phyllis - 1 p.m., Bell Creek Missionary Baptist Church, Dixie.

Lyons, Ronald - 1 p.m., Bartlett - Nichols Funeral Home, St. Albans.

Parsons, Joan - 2 p.m., Keller Funeral Home, Dunbar.

Persinger, Patsy - 1 p.m., White Funeral Home, Summersville.

Petry, Jo Ann - Noon, Cunningham - Parker - Johnson Funeral Home, Charleston.

Stirling Sr., Robert - 1 p.m., Stump Funeral Home & Cremation Inc., Grantsville.

Waldron, James - 1 p.m., Curry Funeral Home, Alum Creek.

Woodard-Thomas, Carolyn - 1 p.m., West Virginia Memorial Gardens, Calvin.