The Perry Area Chamber of Commerce is cooking up some fun.
On Thursday, Sept. 23, the chamber will host its inaugural Iron Skillet Awards at the Perry Players Community Theatre, 909 Main St.
Until Sept. 20, patrons eating at participating chamber member restaurants can vote for their favorite appetizer, entrée, dessert and server. The voting takes place at the eateries, and the winners will be announced at the awards ceremony.
“It’s sort of similar to the Golden Spatula or Foodies! awards,” said Ariel Simmons, the chamber’s administrative office assistant.
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The Golden Spatula is awarded by channel 13 WMAZ-TV to restaurants based on health inspection ratings. M Food & Culture magazine hosts the Foodies! awards.
If the Iron Skillet Awards are anything like the Foodies!, Perry’s in for some real fun.
There are 22 participating restaurants competing for Iron Skillets.
Many of them are national chains in Perry, such as Applebee’s, Burger King, McDonald’s, Chick-fil-A, Cracker Barrel, Dominos Pizza, Papa John’s Pizza, Red Lobster, Zaxby’s and LongHorn Steakhouse.
I called some of the smaller, locally owned participating restaurants to get an idea about some of their more popular menu items that they believe will garner them an Iron Skillet.
Judy Wenger, owner of Oil Lamp Restaurant, 401 General Courtney Hodges Blvd., suggested guests order her roast beef and loaded mashed potatoes. “It’s real popular,” she said.
For dessert, Wenger said you can’t go wrong with any of her homemade pies: blueberry delight, strawberry delight, chocolate chip pecan or regular pecan.
“They’re all good,” she said.
Priester’s Pecan Co., 106 Fairview Drive, is competing in the dessert category. “The pecan pie is the most popular,” said assistant manager Bonnie Ruscio. She also suggested the Bravo Brownies.
Mark Blankenship, manager at Sideboard Southern Buffet, 106 Fairview Drive, said guests must try the award-winning fried chicken.
“We also have rutabagas, fried okra, chicken and dumplings and our banana pudding.”
I sensed a fried chicken battle brewing in Perry because when I called The Swanson, 933 Carroll St., Michael Dean, an operating partner at that restaurant, told me its one of the best places around to eat fried chicken.
“We were just written up in Garden & Gun magazine as one of the top five places in the South to eat fried chicken,” Dean said.
There’s no fried chicken war, though. Dean told me about another restaurant they opened — The Sideboard Southern Buffet.
The restaurants use the same recipe.
Dean said The Swanson is also best known for its homemade bread pudding.
Tickets to the Golden Skillet Awards are $10. For more information visit www.perryafterhours.com.
Go eat, and don’t forget to vote.
Harold Goodridge is the business editor at The Telegraph. Contact him at 744-4382 or e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.