Washington chefs offer new dining experience

Published 1:04 am Monday, September 12, 2016

The Washington area has no shortage of places to eat, but there aren’t many places where diners can experience a six-course meal prepared on site.

Chefs Kelly Hammonds and Jerome Smallwood are looking to give residents that new dining experience, with the creation of monthly Sip and Serve events at St. Clair Ranch.

Hammonds, who owns Kell’s Kakery, said she is always coming up with new ideas, and when she shared this one with Smallwood, who works for East Carolina University catering, he was ready to jump on board.

“Jerome and I, we’ve been best friends for years — over 20 years,” she said. “We’ve always had a passion for food. … I wanted to take it up a couple of notches.”

With godfather Mitch St. Clair’s blessing, Hammonds now has a venue to embrace her cooking creativity.

The first Sip and Serve in May was a success. Hammonds and Smallwood served their guests a wide range of courses: fried deviled eggs, chopped turkey barbecue crostini and crab rangoon for the appetizer; a grilled fruit salad for the second course; then fried lobster macaroni and cheese with browned butter shrimp for the third; a mango and pineapple sorbet to cleanse the palate; marinated, grilled chicken over saffron rice for the main course; and dessert options to round out the evening, including chocolate bowls filled with red velvet brownies.

That evening was followed by a July event featuring a guest chef from Greenville, as well as a “Majestic Dining” event in August.

“We call it a dining experience because, at each one, they experience something different,” Hammonds said.

COOKING PARTNER: Chef Jerome Smallwood shows off his skills at the “Majestic Dining” Sip and Serve last month.

COOKING PARTNER: Chef Jerome Smallwood shows off his skills at the “Majestic Dining” Sip and Serve last month. (LaValle’s Photography)

She said everything is prepared and plated on site, and money from the ticket sales goes straight back to the costs of hosting the Sip and Serve.

“It’s really not about making money. I really just want to be able to do something for Washington,” Hammonds said. “So far, it’s been amazing.”

With the Sip and Serve evenings, Hammonds said she hopes people will find something fun to do, while also experiencing good food and fellowship.

“Just to come and have a good evening where you can have a good time with your friends and meet new people and network,” she said. “Food is the center of a lot of things.”

Hammonds said she is grateful for friends and family who have helped make her idea a reality, and hopes to see Sip and Serve grow, even if it means switching venues.

The next Sip and Serve is scheduled for Sept. 25 at St. Clair Ranch, and the chefs are lining up an October event on the Belle of Washington. For more information about events and ticket prices, call 252-414-6404.