The soup will be familiar, but the atmosphere will be a bit different.
The Lowcountry Soup Challenge to benefit Volunteers in Medicine Hilton Head Island is celebrating its 20th year in a new location â€" The Westin Hilton Head Island Resort & Spa.
The Westin's ballroom gives the festival a chance to spread its 20 chefs out a little more, as opposed to its old confines in The Mall at Shelter Cove, said VIM development director Lisa Nowak.
Also new this year is entertainment. Local duo Lavon and Louise will perform. Other than that, the day will be as it's always been: For a flat $15 fee, chefs will spoon up endless samples of soup.
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"Why change a good thing too much?," Nowak said.
WHAT TO BRING
Just an empty stomach. Bread and water are provided to temper the soup. You might not come with much, but you can leave with a handful. The Soup Boutique returns with Volunteers in Medicine merchandise. Also, if one of the soups piques your interest, organizers can email recipe booklets afterward.
WHO TO WATCH
The Westin gets a bit of home court advantage this year -- not that it needs it. In 2010, the Westin won the People's Choice award for a Lowcountry shrimp chowder.
Kenny B's returns, sure to showcase its decorative booth and flair for curious-sounding soups (see below). Last year, Kenny B's entered a Gullah/Geechee Santa Fe Brunswick Stew.
Hudson's, Capt. Woody's and several other longtime contestants will also come back.
WHERE THE MONEY GOES
The festival raises between $15,000 to $20,000 for Volunteers in Medicine, which provides medical care to low-income individuals who live or work on Hilton Head or Daufuskie islands. More than 14,000 patients were served at the Hilton Head clinic last year.
THE TOP FIVE MOST INTERESTING-SOUNDING SOUPS
5. Alligator Sweet Potato Chowder -- Old Fort Pub, 1995
4. Warm Brie and Honey Soup with sweet crust and apple compote -- Old Fort Pub, 2003
3. Poached Pear Puree with a dark chocolate Grand Marnier dumpling and a sweetened mascarpone drizzle -- Huey's, 2005
2. South Carolina Seafood, Rabbit and Vegetable chowder with grilled pita cracker and smoked catfish spread -- Anna's Beachside Cafe, 1998
1. Granny Smith Got Drunk in Key West! with cinnamon apple beignet -- Kenny B's, 2001 (containing condensed milk, lime and lemon juice, pureed Granny Smith apples, apple cider, cloves, sugar, cinnamon, Grand Marnier and apple schnapps)
PARTICIPATING RESTAURANTS (AS OF TUESDAY)
Alexander's, Skull Creek Boathouse, Bomboras Grille, Captain Woody's, Carrabbas, Chart House, Street Meet, Frankie Bones, Hugo's, Hudson's, Kenny B's, Market Street Cafe, Marley's, Mulberry Street Trattoria, Trattoria Divina and The Westin Resort