Shrimp Cook Off Brings Out Best in Outer Banks

Rob Robinson in black and Matt Payne, chef's for Bad Bean in Kitty Hawk, just down the street from the Joe Lamb Jr., & Associates offices.
Rob Robinson in black and Matt Payne, chef’s for Bad Bean in Kitty Hawk, creating their Shrimp Veracruz. Bad Bean is just down the street from the Joe Lamb Jr., & Associates offices.

It was certainly crowded in Ocean Boulevard for the 7th Annual Outer Banks Shrimp Cook Off. With 10 restaurant on hand and some great weather, there  seemed to be a lot of folks sampling some great dishes.

It’s nice, too, that the event is a fundraiser for the Outer Banks Center for Dolphin Research. It’s a local organization that works to keep track of local dolphins—their migratory patterns, populations and general health. This is the nonprofit’s eighth year of working in the field and they’re starting to get some good information about the local dolphin population.

The Cook Off is for a good cause, but the reason for being at Ocean Boulevard was the shrimp. And what we sampled was spectacular.

It’s almost impossible to pick out a favorite, because everything was excellent. Bad Bean had a Shrimp Veracruz Dumpling with Shrimp Broth. The dumpling used masa dough and it gave the dish a very different flavor and texture.

Cafe Lachine created a marvelous puff pastry with shrimp in the middle of it. Light and fluffy, that was also very good.

However, if pushed to make a decision, we’re going to go with the Pan Seared Shrimp over polenta with a smoked tomato sauce.

Ocean Boulevard has hosted the Cook Off for the past seven years. Having ten restaurants on hand is the most that have participated yet and it really stretched the capacity of OB. Good thing we had beautiful weather because Two Road Tavern was outside, which worked with with their grilled shrimp stuffed with crab meat. There were also three restaurants upstairs, which is a bit cramped under the best of circumstances.

It was though, a very nice event. The chefs seemed genuinely happy to be there and with good food and a good cause, the day seemed to be a genuine success.

Outer Banks Evening Entertainment

Rob Robinson (front) and Matt Payne demonstrating the cuisine of Mexico.
Rob Robinson (front) and Matt Payne demonstrating the cuisine of Mexico.

After Dark at All Saints is a reminder of how wonderful winter can be on the Outer Banks. There is nothing earth shattering or headline making about what happens throughout the month of February at the Episcopal Church in Southern Shores—it’s just community at its best.

Started seven years ago as a way to bring the church to the community and the community to the church, After Dark has grown into a marvelous month-long offering of classes in cooking, wine and beer tasting, art, healthy living and more.

Stu Baldwin offers two courses in surf-fishing—beginning and advanced; the staff of Trio in Kitty Hawk is on hand for wine tasting, beer tasting and an evening of “Discovering North Carolina Cheeses”; this is the time to learn about reflexology or the history of the Currituck Beach Lighthouse.

The most popular classes by far are the cooking classes, and those fill up almost right away. Wes Stepp from Red Sky Cafe teaches an evening class based on his Healthy Gourmet menu; Rob Robinson and Matt Payne of Bad Bean and Baja Grill are on hand to demonstrate the cuisine of Mexico. There are dessert preparations and seafood demos—all classes, unfortunately filled . . . although there is always next year.

Classes are just $20, and there are still some openings. The net proceeds after expenses—mostly printing costs—are all donated back to the community. Through last year over $60,000 had been given to five local organizations: Interfaith Community Outreach, Food For Thought, Community Care Clinic, Beach Food Pantry, and Room in the Inn.

A great way to spend a winter evening, gaining a little bit of knowledge and all for a good cause.