The Food Guy: The Market, Ristorante Abruzzi launch new menus

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Two of Charleston’s higher-end restaurants released new menus last week, with both South Hills’ The Market and downtown’s Ristorante Abruzzi rolling out new eats.

The Market is well-known for changing up its offerings seasonally, but Ristorante Abruzzi’s new menu is part of a “Grand Opening 2.0” of sorts resulting from the restaurant’s decision to take a step back, listen to customer feedback and then dive back in to address some issues that had been dogging them.

I look forward to trying out both new menus soon — and hearing what you think of them as well.

Help Habitat choose a restaurant

After I tossed out a call for recommendations on what awesome West Virginia restaurant should be featured in Habitat for Humanity of Kanawha & Putnam’s next “A Taste of ...” fundraising event, several of you piped in with some really good suggestions.

My two favorites? Chef Anne Hart from Provence Market & Café in Bridgeport and Chef Dale Hawkins from Fish Hawk Acres in Buckhannon.

Dale always does such a fine job catering big events and Anne is one of the most talented chefs I’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting. She made waves by sweeping wins in EVERY category at a major statewide culinary cookoff years ago, and everything I’ve tasted of hers — everything — has been sublime.

Sadly, a recent fire heavily damaged her quaint riverside restaurant in Bridgeport, so she probably has her hands pretty full recovering from that over the next few months.

Stay tuned for more details on the next Habitat event, including the big announcement of which restaurant is ultimately chosen to take the spotlight.

In other local food news, be sure to mark your calendar for these fun upcoming food events over the next four weekends.

Fall Ya’ll Chili & Wing Cookoff

This coming Saturday I’ll be judging the Fall Y’all Chili & Wing Cookoff at Olde Main Plaza in St. Albans, which raises money for local causes like purchasing and supporting a K-9 police dog for the city. Sampling tickets are two for $1 or 12 for $5.

The event runs from 11 am to 5 pm and will feature live music throughout the day from The Heavy Hitters, Scott Honaker, Juicy and Creek Don’t Rise. Also on tap are a children’s costume contest, free face-painting for the kids, and awards for best chili, wings and Halloween-decorated booth.

Manna Meal Farm-to-Table Brunch

The next morning, Capitol Market welcomes Manna Meal, which is hosting a Sunday morning Farm-to-Table Brunch to raise funds to support the group’s efforts to feed the hungry. The soirée starts at 9:30 am on Oct. 27, where you can sip on bloody marys and mimosas while enjoying a feast prepared by Chef Paul Smith in the market’s gorgeous surroundings.

Ticket are $125 and can be purchased at the “Farm to Table: Brunch to Benefit Manna Meal” event page on Facebook.

Charleston Mac & Cheese Cook-Off

The following Saturday, more than 20 teams will square off during this year’s Charleston Mac & Cheese Cook-Off at Capitol Market at 11 a.m. on Nov. 2. Hosted by the Childhood Language Center, the fundraising event draws hundreds of guests to sample and vote for a diverse array of entries featuring everything from cheesy pasta blended with bacon, mushroom and peppers to more exotic mix-ins like lobster, truffles, pesto and more.

For more information, call (304) 342-7852 or visit the event’s Facebook page.

Waggin’ Tails & Nitro Ales

The week after that I’ll be the celebrity judge at the Waggin’ Tails & Nitro Ales chili cookoff and craft beer fest on Nov. 9, at Living Memorial Park in downtown Nitro, an event that just keeps getting bigger and better every year. A fundraiser for the Dog Bless animal rescue, the event invites the public to sample chili, sip craft beer, enjoy live music from bluegrass folk band Oyo and shop vendors from noon to 3 pm.

Officially sanctioned by the International Chili Society, the cookoff’s winners in the Homestyle and Vegetarian categories will represent Waggin’ Tails at the world championship chili cookoff.

Tickets are $25 in advance ($30 at the door) and can be purchased online at Tickets include tasting samples of 40+ craft beers, five tickets to sample 30+ chilis and a tote bag. A $50 VIP ticket provides early admission, a beer education session and a T-shirt.

YWCA Foodie Feast

Finally, the YWCA’s annual Foodie Feast will move to a new location at Beni Kedem Temple from 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 17. Featuring a “not your mother’s Thanksgiving meal” of fusion food and cocktails in a festive brunch-like setting, proceeds from the event benefit the Sojourner’s Homeless Shelter.

Tickets are $50 for adults and $25 for children 10 and over. Children under 10 eat free. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit

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”.