After 35 years cooking professionally and leading talented kitchen teams, Chef Stephen Stewart still needs to think hard when asked to improvise a meal that incorporates ingredients like artichokes and quail.
Chef Stephen, Executive Chef at TidePointe, a Vi Community for the past 14 years, faced these tricky ingredients during “The Heat is On,” a mystery basket competition that rounds out the annual two-day Cooks & Books celebration in Hilton Head, South Carolina.
Cooks & Books is the capstone event for local Hilton Head organization, The Literacy Center, a non-profit in greater Beaufort County that works to provide adults with greater literacy and workplace skills. Each year, Cooks & Books features tastings from local restaurants, book signings from local authors, and “The Heat is On” competition – a “cooking competition featuring prominent local chefs.
TidePointe has participated in the Cooks & Books program for the past 10 years, and Chef Stephen has competed in the capstone “The Heat is On” event for the past six. This year, the “most valuable player” on his team: Chef’s 12-year-old daughter Shannah. For the second consecutive year, Shannah stood next to her father at the station as his sous chef, producing fresh pastas and pie crusts that factored into the winning dishes.
“Shannah cooks at home and often makes quiche from scratch,” he said. “She knows what she’s doing, and for her, the competition is pretty special.”
Despite his initial puzzlement upon opening the basket of quail and artichoke, Chef Stephen and Shannah repeated as winners of the competition in front of approximately 1,000 in attendance.
Dene Wilmot, TidePointe’s Sales Director, knows that Chef’s accomplishments during Cooks & Books are a point of pride for residents.
“The residents here are glad that TidePointe is giving back to the larger community through the Cooks and Books program,” she said. “Almost all TidePointe residents participate in the gala and many go out on Sunday to support Chef Stephen in ‘The Heat is On’ competition.”