Start your meal with the very best…starters

by Betty Wrenn Day - Posted on Mar 20, 2013 - 02:28 PM

Photo: In photo above, Cherie Stone, executive director of the Laurel Shelter, Inc., left, congratulates Chef Jamie “Bull” Viers, right, and Chris McBurney, executive chef at Merroir, first-place winners in the appetizer contest. Below, Angela Harder, left, owner of Off The Hook, took second-place honors for her Hook Shrimp. Cherie Stone made the presentation. At bottom right, Juan Carillo, owner of Elegant International Catering, won third-place honors for his Oysters Weyanoke.

In photo above, Cherie Stone, executive director of the Laurel Shelter, Inc., left, congratulates Chef Jamie “Bull” Viers, right, and Chris McBurney, executive chef at Merroir, first-place winners in the appetizer contest. Below, Angela Harder, left, owner of Off The Hook, took second-place honors for her Hook Shrimp. Cherie Stone made the presentation. At bottom right, Juan Carillo, owner of Elegant International Catering, won third-place honors for his Oysters Weyanoke.

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The words appetizer, canapé, snacks, hors d’oeuvres (originated from the French), starters, (American terminology), antipasto (Italian), gustus (Latin), tapas (Spanish), maza (Mediterranean), mezze (Middle East), zakuski, (Russian), dim sum (Chinese) and smorgasbord (Scandinavian) all have somewhat the same meaning: a small food served before a meal to whet the appetite.

"Toast of the Peninsula," a recently held event at the Gloucester Moose Lodge featuring a Bull & Oyster Roast buffet dinner executed by Chef James Washington, opened its evening of fine dining with a presentation of appetizers created and served by 15 professional chefs. They were competing for the votes of "best" from those attending.

The event’s joint sponsors, Laurel Shelter, Inc., and Loyal Order of the Moose, chose appetizers as the stars of the competition.

The Courthouse Restaurant served two appetizers, Banana Split Pie and Avocado Basil Shrimp. Take your choice or taste them both; tasting both was the best idea. Eggheads Diner served Guinea Clam Chowder, a Gloucester County favorite that’s always good eating; while Jessica’s on Main served French Quarter Cheese, a seasoned cream cheese with a pecan crust which made a great taste combination.

Sweet Madeleine’s Café also gave the guests a choice, serving an Apple Caramel Bread Pudding, a dish it’s famous for (and the recipe is kept secret), and Beef Tenderloin Crostini. Off the Hook chose a different shrimp disha—a flash-fried shrimp dipped in the restaurant’s specialty sauce, called Hook Shrimp. River’s Inn brought a delicious flavor to its Seafood Gumbo by enhancing it with N’awlins Seasoning.