The North Carolina Sweet Potato Commission announced the winners of the Savor Your Sweets recipe contest, a promotion with independent restaurant operators in the southeast inviting chefs and consumers to look at sweet potatoes in new ways. The winners, Cuban Sweet Potato Tacos and Sweet Potato Rice Pudding, aren’t typical sweet potato dishes, but Taqueria del Sol and The Kings Kitchen pushed contemporary thinking into new areas. With the help of USDA Specialty Crop Block Grant funding through the NC Department of Agriculture, the North Carolina Sweet Potato Commission ran the promotion April –October of 2013.
Taqueria del Sol, with multiple locations including one in Cary, NC, won the savory category with its Cuban Tacos. Diced sweet potatoes were stewed with a typical ground beef and cheese filling for a sweet contrast. On the sweet side, The Kings Kitchen took top honors with its Sweet Potato Rice Pudding. Both winners received a $1,000 prize. Diners were also able to judge and selected Sweet Potato Churros from Cantina 18 as the People’s Choice winner.
Sue Johnson-Langdon, director of the North Carolina Sweet Potato Commission, visited Taqueria del Sol and presented the check to one of its owners, Chris Calloway, along with Annabel Rocha who created the dish. "The creativity we see from recipe contests never ceases to amaze me, and the independent restaurants added a new twist to a tool we have used to successfully promote NC sweet potatoes," said Johnson-Langdon.
The Savor Your Sweets promotion ran throughout the southeast, with heaviest participation in North Carolina, where nearly half of all U.S.-grown sweet potatoes are produced. The North Carolina Sweet Potato Commission is a nonprofit corporation made up of almost 350 sweet potato growers, packers and processors.