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Memphis in May launching pad for 'cue joints
May 16, 2007
By Jennifer Chandler

MIM was launching pad for 'cue joints

By Jennifer Chandler
Special to The Commercial Appeal

May 16, 2007

The Memphis in May World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest does so much for our town. It's helped put our delicious barbecue on the map and brings nationwide attention to our city.

Besides the publicity and making Downtown smell absolutely scrumptious for three days, MIM has helped bring us some great barbecue joints we can enjoy year-round.

"We started competing 25 years ago," says Brannon McCarty, owner of Whole Hog Cafe, 5727 Quince.

Soon after winning the 2002 whole hog competition and placing second in ribs that same year (something his team also did in 2000), McCarty decided to open a Memphis location of his Little Rock restaurant.

"To make sure our customers always get championship quality barbecue, we make all our managers get qualified as certified barbecue judges as well as compete in at least two contests a year," adds McCarty.

On the other side of town, Roger Sapp and Craig Blondis opened Central BBQ, 2249 Central, back in 2002 because of their MIM experience.

"We started competing back in 1980 and have competed every year since," says Blondis.

Now they have a second location at 4375 Summer.

Ernie Mellor started his catering business, Hog Wild, thanks to MIM as well.

"I joined a team 21 years ago and after awhile started cooking for friends' parties," says Mellor. "After about 15 years of that, I decided to open a catering business." Having placed second three times in the shoulder competition and recognized as a certified judge, this will be Mellor's 21st MIM competition.

Belmont's 10th year

The Belmont Grill in Germantown, 9102 Poplar Pike, is celebrating its 10th year in business this month.

Each day this week, Belmont will buy the meals for a whole table of people, based on a daily random selection of time and table. The manager will draw a table number and time of day each morning and only he or she will know the designated table, at least until some lucky diners get no check.

Heart healthy dining

Memphis Heart Clinic (MHC) has partnered with the Memphis Restaurant Association to launch Heart Builders, a new initiative offering Memphians heart-healthy options in local area restaurants.

Heart Builders will work with local restaurants to place heart-healthy items on their menus. As part of the program, MHC provides participating restaurants access to its team of cardiologists and a registered dietitian. MHC also works with restaurants to evaluate existing menu items and either identify or create heart-healthy options.

Huey's, D'bo's Wings n' Things and Garibaldi's Pizza are the first to join in the program and debuted their heart-healthy items Tuesday.

Aunt Lizzie's cookies

Everyone knows about Aunt Lizzie's cheese straws.

At the Memphis Farmers Market last week, this Memphis-based company debuted a new product, which I got to taste before they sold out.

Their new chocolate-covered pecan cookies are wonderful.

The recipe for these old-fashioned wedding cookies was handed down to owner Ginna Kelley by her mother. Luckily for us, Kelley and her partner Ann Randalls decided to dip them in chocolate.

Look for them at gift and gourmet food stores or get to the Memphis Farmers Market early, before they sell out.

Openings and closings

Thankfully, I have no closings to report but, if you like Greek food, you're in luck.

Mo's Greek Cafe at Stop 345 opened recently at 345 Madison. This little cafe features Greek specialties such as garlic shrimp, spanakopita, pastichio, and, according to owner Nita Black, the only authentic Greek salad in town.

Please share your fabulous food finds and restaurant news with me at jennifer@cookwithjennifer.com.

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