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Chefs Fowler and Zanini square off for the title of BugFest Critter Cook-off Champ!

For Immediate Release       
Education, Features, Science Editors. Images available.   
Contact: emelia.cowans@naturalsciences.org, 919.707.9837

Local chefs sharpen their knives and prepare for battle!

Sean Fowler of Mandolin Restaurant and Steve Zanini of Jimmy V’s Steakhouse and Tavern vie for the title of BugFest Critter Cook-off Champ

RALEIGH — Let the cooking and tasting begin! The BugFest Critter Cook-off, the official start to BugFest, will be held on Friday, September 20 at 11 a.m. in the main building of the NC Museum of Natural Sciences in the first floor Treasures Hall. The competition pits two local chefs against each other “Iron-Chef” style to vie for the chance at being named “BugFest Critter Cook-off Champ!” The contenders this year are Sean Fowler from Mandolin Restaurant in Raleigh and Steve Zanini from Jimmy V’s Steakhouse and Tavern in Cary.

Both chefs have 50 minutes to prepare an appetizer, entrée and dessert using mealworms, superworms (both a species of darkling beetle larvae), crickets and the mystery ingredient this year—scorpions—which is also the theme arthropod for this year’s BugFest on Saturday September 21 from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Free. 

Each dish will be judged on originality, taste and presentation by a celebrity panel of judges. This year’s panel consists of Debra Morgan, WRAL, Steve Daniels, WTVD, Karen Clark, Foxy 107/105 and Dr. Meg Lowman, Museum Senior Scientist, Director of Academic Partnerships & Global Initiatives. The chef whose creative concoctions stimulate the judges' taste buds the most will be bestowed with the title of 2013 BugFest Critter Cook-off Champion!

Steve Zanini is a graduate of Wake Tech’s culinary program and has been the chef at Jimmy V's for two and a half years, implementing his passion to keep his culinary senses alive.  In addition to serving high quality steaks, Chef Zanini believes that offering delicious fresh seafood and exotic dishes distinguishes them from other steakhouses, setting them apart. Nearly everything (including pasta), is made fresh, in house, utilizing as many local ingredients as possible.

Raleigh native, Sean Fowler returned home to open Mandolin, his debut restaurant.  Over the past ten years, Chef Fowler has fine-tuned his cooking and his concept for Mandolin. Like the City of Oaks itself, Mandolin is Southern at its roots, but draws influences from around the world.  The food is fresh and local, the music is American, and the restaurant is home to a family with a passion for serving world class food, wine, and spirits in a soulful, comforting atmosphere. 

Friday’s preview will last about an hour, with opportunities for the media to interview the guest chefs and celebrity judges. Parking is available in the visitor parking lot at the corner of Jones and Wilmington streets.  Call 919.707.9837 for more information.

Publish Date: 
Wednesday, September 18, 2013