Scrumptious Shelby County

Published 4:00 pm Friday, October 17, 2008

More than 300 people gathered at Jefferson State Community College’s Hoover-Shelby campus Thursday night to taste the best Shelby County has to offer.

As attendees poured through the double doors leading into A Taste of Shelby County, the first booth in their line of sight belonged to The Cates House, a wedding and event venue based in Alabaster.

Cates House catering director Kyra Moncrief planned accordingly, placing mouth-watering mounds of Caramelized Pear Bread Pudding and tempting Chocolate Caramelized Apples within easy view.

“My strong point is presentation,” Moncrief said. “I just want the food to look good and taste good.”

Moncrief said the event was a way for The Cates House to fight back against a sluggish economy.

“We just want to let people see what we’re doing and spark some interest,” she said.

A Taste of Shelby County sparked plenty of interest from local residents eager for something different.

Greater Shelby County Chamber of Commerce President Jennifer Trammell said the turnout for the first-year event exceeded expectations and made more than $6,000 for the Chamber and for the Greater Shelby County Education Foundation.

“I was very pleased with the turnout,” Trammell said. “We had a very full room, and I’m not sure we could have gotten 10 more people in there.”

Trammell said the event was designed to help promote Shelby County businesses. Eighteen restaurants and two wineries showed off their wares.

“I think in light of what’s going on with the economy, this is a good way to get their names out,” she said.

State Representative Cam Ward said the event reminded him of a family reunion.

“It’s a lot of fun and an opportunity to visit with people and get good food,” he said. “It’s a good way to catch up on all the issues in Shelby County. I know everybody here.”

A variety of different foods were represented, from lobster spinach queso dip to barbecue sandwiches. Event-goers were also able to find samples of Mediterranean pastries and wedding cake for dessert, as well as quite a few wines to top it all off.

Frank Sekyra, manager of the Greystone Jim ‘N Nick’s, said the event was a way for his business to get involved with the community.

“It’s a great way to get out into the community we are a part of. We’re always trying to do events like this and show support of the community,” he said.

As tasters happily grabbed the restaurant’s sausage links with pimento cheese, pulled pork sandwiches and signature cheese biscuits, Sekyra grinned and said, “They’re just happy we’re here.”