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A LA CARTE

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ACCOLADES ALL AROUND

From barbecue to vino, everyone's winning awards these days. Both Bessinger's Barbeque and J.B.'s Smokeshack were recently honored for barbecue excellence. National Barbecue News, a magazine dedicated to the art and "sport" of piggy roasting, recently named Bessinger's best overall barbecue restaurant. Apparently, the buffet-style eatery merely submitted their special barbecue sauce to the magazine's contest and in turn was awarded with the Best Restaurant title. Meanwhile, J.B.'s took home a second place trophy for best ribs at the 23rd Annual National Prestigious Palmetto Pig Pickin' Competition. In other news, local winery Irvin-House Vineyards was recognized last month in the Wines of the South 2005 Wine Competition. The vineyard, located on Wadmalaw Island, took home three bronze medals for their Tara Gold, Magnolia, and Palmetto muscadine wines. —Kinsey Labberton

BREATHE EASY

From Frisco to NYC, cities are tossing out ashtrays and putting smokers on the streets. Yet Charleston, holding firm to tradition, has yet to join the fresh air trend. However, Planters Inn, Peninsula Grill, and Hank's Seafood Restaurant are leading a "No Smoking" mini-movement in the Holy City. The three eateries have not only banned smoking from the premises, but invested in new super-sophisticated air conditioning systems, leaving air fresher than ever, which owner Hank Holliday says was a business no-brainer. "As a businessman, it feels like a very smart decision. We've had literally hundreds of patrons thank us — unsolicited — about the clean air." —KL

FLORENCE TO HOSTCOOK-OFF FINALE

You've seen him on "Food 911," drooled over his dishes on "How to Boil Water," now Food Network celeb Tyler Florence returns to Charleston. The Johnson & Wales grad has accepted Southern Living's invite to host their Cook-Off 2006 Grand Finale event right here at the Gaillard Auditorium. All competitors will submit an original recipe using one Cook-Off sponsored product, and the 15 finalists will compete to win the $100,000 grand prize. Florence will emcee the finale on October 5 and announce the winners. Southern Living editor Scott Jones is thrilled to have Florence host for the third year in a row, "He really connects with our audience — our past contestants have loved being onstage with him." To compete, all entries must be submitted to Southern Living no later than June 7. See rules and regulations at www.southernlivingcookoff.com. —KL

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