The Dining Dish blog is Dara Bunjon's take on anything food, both national and in her hometown of Baltimore. Warning: this food blog can be harmful to your waistline.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Mason Dixon Master Chef Tournament in full swing - Year 6

In what is the Mid-Atlantic’s biggest culinary competition, the Mason Dixon Master Chef Competition is in full swing vying chef against chef from restaurants in the DMV (District of Columbia, Maryland and Virginia). 

The initial field of 16 chef teams has begun their tiered competitions. Each chef team will have 30 minutes of cold prep time, and just one hour of cooking time to create original appetizer, entrée and dessert courses for the expert judging panel of three, and up to 36 audience guest judges. Dishes are scored on presentation, creativity, difficulty and taste, and at the end of each evening only one chef team will advance to the next round.

The public is invited to the Inn at the Colonnade Baltimore to watch, and possibly judge the competition. Guests gathering around the two kitchens watching the chefs and their assistants take on a themed challenged.  Matches are held Mondays and Tuesdays throughout the summer with the championship for the title of Mason Dixon Master Chef 2016 taking place on Sunday, August 14th.
Tournament Details

Tickets for  the remaining matches of this summer-long single-elimination chef competition are available for purchase at: Tickets for most matches are $25 for general admission and $45 for judging experience (including all taxes). In addition, the Mason Dixon Master Chef Tournament donates 10% of the net proceeds of each ticket sold directly to their charity partner Meals on Wheels of Central Maryland (

 Competition Dates (5:30pm – 9:00pm):
June 7, 8, 13, 14, 20, 21, 27, 28 -- July 11, 12, 18, 19  -- August 1, 2, 14
 Event Timeline:
·         5:30 p.m. – Happy Hour with Complementary Hors d’oeurves and Wine Tasting by Boordy Vineyards, plus Drink Specials
·         6:30 p.m. – Cold Prep Begins for the Competition
·         7:00 p.m. – Chef Competition
·         8:00 p.m. – Judging Begins, Complementary Dessert and Coffee Served

Mason Dixon Master Chef Tournament 2016 – Colonnade Baltimore -  -Facebook   Twitter 

Monday, June 13, 2016

The Lord Baltimore Hotel's The French Kitchen new seasonal menu kicks off.

Seasons change and so do the menus, with that, new menu tasting invitations start to arrive as did the one from the French Kitchen Restaurant in the Lord Baltimore Hotel.  This was a great opportunity at the same time to visit the LB Skybar on the 19th floor of the Lord Baltimore Hotel. LB Skybar seats 60 people and is open on Wednesdays and Thursdays from 4:00-11:00 p.m., on Fridays from 4:00 p.m. to midnight and Saturdays from 5:00 p.m. to midnight. Pick your libation from the specialty cocktail list created by the hotel’s bar team exclusively for LB Skybar or choose from their beer and wine selections. Have a lite bite of sushi or antipasti before you head out to dinner.  We went before our dinner, so we were too early to enjoy the sunset and had headed home after our meal, missing downtown  all lit up against the night sky. 

Read the full story and watch the slideshow at / Dining

Coming soon to store shelves near you - Thomas' salted caramel English muffins and bagels

From the company that made the phrase, “nooks and crannies” iconic, Thomas’ English Muffins, comes a limited time offering of salted caramel English Muffins and bagels. These sweet, salty combo flavored muffins and bagels will arrive on your local store shelves starting June 27th through mid-October.

My food curiosity had to taste and upon request, samples arrived the next day.  A taste of the Salted Caramel  English muffin and the bagel proved that it is good for those with a sweet tooth whether for a breakfast item, on the go or just a plain sweet treat as a dessert or nosh.  The aroma of caramel is undeniable with both the bagel and the muffin.  My dilemma, what to put on the English muffin and the bagel, so I went traditional, butter on the English muffin and cream cheese on the bagel. My aha moment was thinking that a chocolate spread would be a good topping– chocolate, caramel and salt, unfortunately there was none in the house. Come the fall months, I would think sliced apple might be a nice topper.

Look for the Thomas’ Salted Caramel English Muffins and Bagels on your local store shelves in the next couple weeks.

Thomas’ Salted Caramel English Muffins - Available sizes: 6-pack -150 calories - 0g trans fat - 1 grams of fat - SRP $4.49 /  Thomas’ Salted Caramel Bagels - Available sizes: 6-pack-260 calories- 0g trans fat - 1.5 grams of fat - SRP $4.79    Facebook   Instagram: @thomasbreakfast

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Cooper's Hawk Winery and Restaurant opens in Annapolis

Nation’s Restaurant News in 2014 labeled Cooper’s Hawk Winery and Restaurants a ‘Breakout Brand’ and ‘Hot Concept’ – a fast casual concept that is first and foremost a winery then a restaurant and artisanal retail market.  The winery is based in Illinois, the grapes from California, Oregon and Washington and the winery/restaurants are in Florida, Indiana, Missouri, Ohio, Virginia, Wisconsin, home state of Illinois and now the first Maryland location in the Annapolis Towne Centre.

The Annapolis Cooper’s Hawk restaurant is on the second floor with numerous areas to dine al fresco or partake of your food and wine in the climate controlled dining rooms.  The Napa-style tasting room and retail market is ground level with sauces, pastas, and freshly made confections: chocolate covered strawberries, truffles, cheesecake pops and other assorted chocolate temptations. 

What is different about the menu at a Cooper’s Hawk Winery and Restaurant is that the food doesn’t dictate the wine, the wine, The Cooper’s Hawk wines, are at the beginning of the recipe/menu development. You can order by the glass, bottle and the Winemaker’s Barrel Reserve from a decanter and you are encouraged to taste before you order a glass so you aren’t concerned about trying something new.  Not sure what wine goes with what dish, there is a suggested wine for each dish.

Read the full story, watch the video and slideshow at / Dining

Saturday, June 11, 2016

And the winners are

Being a big supporter of my hometown Baltimore it was a joy to see recognition for jobs well done recently handed out by the MADE: In America organization.  The city’s leading chefs created tasty morsels and Wit and Wisdom’s lead bartender created cocktails all reflective of the Foodways Award winners:

The American Treasures 2016 awardees in the Culinary Arts/Foodways:
·         Bourbon Barrel Foods, Louisville, Kentucky
·         J.M Clayton - Seafood, Cambridge, Maryland
·         Sagamore Spirit Rye Whiskey Distillery, Baltimore, Maryland

The 2016 American Treasures Awards were presented to the Nation’s top farmers, foragers and craft producers who were featured in a tasting created by the All American Chefs, chaired by Zach Mills, Executive Chef at Wit and Wisdom.

The Honorable Stephanie Rawlings Blake, Mayor of the City of Baltimore presented the inaugural Baltimore’s American Treasures Awards to individuals in recognition of their meritorious contributions to the city.

The Baltimore’s American Treasures Awardees are:
·         The Honorable Barbara Mikulski, United States Senate, Maryland
·         Dr. Carla Hayden, Librarian of Congress elect

Also presented at the event was the prestigious American Benefactor Award to the Paterakis Family of Baltimore, Maryland for their support of the All American Chefs:

·         Zach Mills (Chair) Executive Chef, Wit &Wisdom, Four Seasons Hotel Baltimore
·         Chris Amendola, Executive Chef, Waterfront Kitchen
·         Chris Becker, Corporate Executive Chef, The Bagby Group
·         Jerry Edwards, CPCE, Pres. and Corp Chef, Chef's Expressions
·         Chad Gauss, Chef/Owner at Food Market
·         Cyrus Keefer, Executive Chef
·         Jerry Pelligrino, Chef at Schola
·         Nicholas Sharpe, Executive Chef, Birch and Barley
·         Jonathan Levy, Lead Bartender, Wit and Wisdom, Four Seasons Hotel Baltimore

MADE: In America’s mission is to create and foster a business climate conducive to the free exchange of ideas and information to revitalize and sustain the competitiveness of American commerce and industry in a global economy. A non-profit organization headquartered in Washington, DC, MADE: In America serves businesses throughout the United States. The organization presents the American Treasures awards to individuals and organizations for significant and singular contributions that are shaping and transforming our Nation’s cultural heritage. Learn more at

Monday, June 06, 2016

6 course French Asian pop up dinner by Chef Cyrus Keefer

Baltimore’s highly acclaimed Chef Cyrus Keefer is back, cooking up his unique French Asian fusion cuisine under the name of Défie Moi, his former late night dining hot spot in 13.5% Wine Bar & Food basement.  Chef Keefer’s first pop up dinner on Wednesday June 15th will be six courses and adult libations in the Private Kitchen at the Food Market. Keefer has cooked three times at the James Beard House in New York and recognized for his culinary creativity at

There are only 12 seats and at last conversation 8 tickets were already sold, so you are still in play to grab  these limited seat tickets to what will be a fun, tantalizing, tasty evening of communal dining and lively conversation.

Keefer will be doing other pop-ups in the near future but they will be ala carte dishes-first come first served -  July 1st at Union Craft Brewing Co and July 17th at Ekiben. 

The Menu for June 15th seated multi course dinner:

Burrata Croustade -sunflower shoots, Iberico ham and red miso
Escargot Gyoza-gruyere, baby leek, black garlic, nori & pistou
Duck Dog-merquez chili, lentil, marmalade, and black truffle butter
Stir Fried Calamari-broccoli rabe, pine nuts, Calabrian chili, and thai basil
Oil Poached Shrimp-shishito pepper, romesco, nduja and barley congee
French Dip Roll-steak tartare, brioche, horseradish, furikake, and dashi crema

What:  Défie Moi Multi Course Dinner by Chef Cyrus Keefer
When: Wednesday, June 15th – 7 p.m.
Where: The Food Market – Private Kitchen/Basement
                1017 W. 36th Street – Baltimore, MD  21211
Seat Tickets:  $100 per guest includes six courses – adult libations
Ticket Sales:  410-908-1978


Surprisingly good - Nando's PERi-PERi

My perception of the restaurant chain Nando’s PERi-PERi  restaurants was thinking it was another fast casual chicken restaurant, corporate designed, lacking personality and flavorful food for my curious palate. A visit to one of numerous 31 locations in the United States proved my perception, incorrect both in the matter of taste and eye appeal –--- it was a terrific find and looking forward to going back. 

This South African-Portuguese restaurant that originated in Johannesburg is known for its spicy flame-grilled chicken. Nando’s chicken is marinated for 24 hours and then flamed grilled with your choice of full flavored and spicy sauces that are reflective of the of African Bird’s Eye Chili, otherwise known as PERi-PERi.  Since their start in 1987, Nando’s PERi-PERi restaurants can be found on 5 continents and 23 countries.

For the full story and slideshow go to / Dining

Wednesday, June 01, 2016

Tapas in the City: small plates and new tastes.

When you go out to dine, do you like it when your companions share a taste of their food? Are you food curious? Always wanting to indulge in the flavors and textures of numerous food offerings? If you said yes, then the newly formed Tapas in the City based Baltimore is just for you.

Tapas in the City is the brainchild of three of Baltimore’s food documentarians on Instagram.  Jordan Zelesnick @JZeats explained, “Rachel Lipton @LikeTheTeaEats, Andrea Samlin @Bmore_Hungry, and I had dinner one night and decided we wanted to bring affordable dining to the people of Baltimore. It's so hard to choose just one dish at a restaurant when there are so many delicious options to pick from. Some of our favorite restaurants serve tapas style (small plates) so we thought that might be a good route to go.”

Read the full story at 


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