Town & Gown starts food fight

Edward Marlowe
Staff writer

Ever tasted the Rainey T. Wells with cheese?  How about the Waterfield with hot wasabi and a side of wild rice?
On Sept. 27, it could be the taste of the town.
Town & Gown officials at the Town & Gown Breakfast in The Stables revealed plans on July 12 for a city-wide competition in which aspiring local restaurants, both private- and corporate-owned, can create and name dishes in honor of Murray State University history.
“If you go to other university towns, you see something on the menu that reminds you of the college,” said Mark Welch, community relations director and also Town & Gown partnership coordinator. “There is not enough University identity in Murray.  Not a lot of businesses are branded or connected to the University.”
Entries will be initially evaluated by creativity, as well as taste, by a panel of judges who will preside during halftime of the first Murray State home football game Sept. 17.
“Hopefully this competition requires businesses to get in touch with the University and what it’s all about,” Welch said.
Three entrees will be chosen by the panel at the game. Once chosen, each meal will be presented and judged by “the Food Dude” Kevin Roberts, who recently was a top 10 finalist from the television show “The Next Food Network Star.”
Roberts is set to speak about his television and cooking experiences at 6 p.m. on Sept. 27 at Lovett Auditorium.
The winner of the “Dish it Up!” contest will receive $1,250 in media coverage and an electronic banner on the Chamber of Commerce marquee, and the business must be able to provide the winning dish on their menu going forward.
Welch said he hopes the prize entices numerous entries from across the county to participate in what he hopes will be an annual event.
While privately owned restaurants have more flexibility with menus than corporate chains, all restaurants are encouraged to bring their best dishes to the table, Welch said.
Currently Quarters, the Big Apple, Zaxby’s and Culver’s have expressed interest in the contest, Welch said, thus widening the scope of the competition.
“We’re absolutely interested and will be competing,” said Jim Foster, owner of Culver’s Frozen Custard and Butterburgers. “We’re a little constrained because we’ll have to use existing products, but we plan to give the competition a run for their money. Most of all, it’ll be fun.”
Welch said he already has plans for next year’s competition, which he hopes will develop student support.
“If I had just a little more time, maybe next year I can get students involved in the voting process on Facebook,” Welch said.  “I certainly hope this takes off.”
Businesses interested in the competition should contact Welch at 809-5706.
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