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The Ultimate Dinner wowed diners and raised big bucks

Charleston's food critics picked a winning menu

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The party after the first Ultimate Critic's Dinner ran late into the night, sprawling among the Cottages at Charleston Harbor, a beautiful setting on the water in Mt. Pleasant. The dinner was held on Wednesday night, designed to raise money for the Charleston Wine + Food Festival's 2010 charity, Lowcountry Local First.

Diners, including the food critics from the major print publications of the city, were justifiably wowed by the experience.

They enjoyed the canapes of Sean Brock of McCrady's and Mike Lata of FIG, featuring morsels of pig trotter deep fried and served in paper cones and spoonfuls of smoked trout with roe, among others, and Mickey Bakst, the general manager of Charleston Grill, headed up a cadre of professional servers passing platters of champagne.

After hors d'oeuvres, the well-heeled crowd of foodies headed to a covered pavilion where Jeremiah Bacon of Carolina's, Craig Deihl of Cypress, Frank Lee of Slightly North of Broad, Michelle Weaver of Charleston Grill, and Lauren Mitterer of Wild Flour Pastry served a multi-course al fresco tasting menu paired with wines and set to the sounds of a live steel drum ensemble.

Bakst and Wine + Food Festival Executive Director Angel Postell ended the meal with an acknowledgement of the chefs, who each received a plaque recognizing their status as 2010 "Critic's Choice" winners. The dinner raised close to $20,000 for Lowcountry Local First's Farm Stewardship Program.

Already, there are plans in the works for an encore next year, and with this year's allotment of tickets selling out in just two days, it's probably time to start saving up. It's an event no serious foodie would ever want to miss.

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