Local restaurants, caterers compete for title of Columbia’s Best Shrimp and Grits

Midlands’ Modern Southern Food Arts won two awards for their shrimp and grits. Karamie Sullivan photos.

Ten Midlands restaurants and caterers participated in the fourth annual Columbia Shrimp and Grits Fest at the DoubleTree Hotel Saturday evening. Contestants prepared sample-sized portions of the iconic Southern dish to win the vote of event-goers, and a panel of judges.

A wide variety of shrimp and grits were offered. Some prepared traditional options with bacon bits, cheese, and green onion, while others included less-expected ingredients like okra, collard greens, and feta cheese.

Hundreds of grits lovers attended the event, some for the first time. “So this was my first year going, and yeah, it was some good eating for sure,” said one attendee.  “They were all delicious. Well, except one I didn’t particularly care for, but I won’t mention which one,” laughed another. All attendees were given two tokens, and were able to vote for their favorites by placing the token in the corresponding restaurant’s box.

Both the People’s Choice award and the Best Creative Shrimp and Grits award were given to Midlands Modern Southern Food Arts. Their rendition was made with a savory cream sauce, tomatoes, corn, green onion and parmesan cheese shavings.

The Judges’ Choice Best Shrimp and Grits award was given to The Grand. Executive Chef Mike Ellis described his dish as a jalapeño cheese grits stuffed inside a shrimp, wrapped in bacon, pan fried, with a little wasabi cream and balsamic glaze on top, sitting in a pool of homemade corn jam.

Live music entertained the crowd throughout the evening, a cash bar was on-site, and cupcakes were available for purchase from West Columbia’s Buttercream Dreams.

Categories: Arts & Entertainment, Columbia, Richland County