Ready for a taste?

Fish is garnished before being served at a past Summer Taste of Core Sound event at the Core Sound Waterfowl Museum and Heritage Center on Harkers Island. This year’s event, taking place at the museum, is set for Aug. 23. (Dylan Ray photo)

Those at the Core Sound Waterfowl Museum and Heritage Center are going home with the Summer Taste of Core Sound.

The event is Friday, Aug. 23 and will be held at the museum on Harkers Island, which remains closed to the public due to damage from last September’s Hurricane Florence. The annual summer event, however, will be held in the museum’s big room.

This special event will feature Chef Bill Smith, formerly of Crook’s Corner.

“We are so thrilled to have Bill Smith cooking hard crabs at the Core Sound Waterfowl Museum and Heritage Center later this month,” said Baxter Miller, co-organizer for the Summer Taste event. “And we’ll decide, once and for all, in a very non-scientific way, the winner in the eternal battle of who makes the best lemon pie. I’m preparing for fireworks.”

Summer Taste will include a five-course, family style meal featuring fresh, local seafood with trimmings from the garden. The menu includes shrimp and grits, hot fried fish, cold fried chicken, stewed hard crabs, summer succotash, collards, trimmings and lemon pie.

As local lore would have it, Atlantic Beach and Harkers Island have been at war over who makes the best lemon pie. During the event, the audience will decide whose will win, Atlantic Beach’s lemon pie or Harkers Island’s lemon milk pie.

“The people of coastal North Carolina have never forgiven me for using whipped cream in place of meringue on that stupid pie,” Mr. Smith said. “This is the showdown.”

As well as preparing the meal, Mr. Smith will be the speaker, sharing stories about growing up along the coast of North Carolina and all the ways his life has been shaped by Southern food.

Mr. Smith was born and raised in New Bern and was the chef at Crook’s Corner for nearly three decades until his retirement this year.

He is known for his take on Southern comfort food, as well as his food writing, including the New York Times’ Notable and Food & Wine Magazine’s Best-of-the-Best cookbook Seasoned in the South and the bestselling Savor the South title, Crabs & Oysters.

He is the only James Beard Foundation “America’s Classic Restaurant” chef ever to have been named a top-five finalist for Best Chef in the Southeast twice.

During his time at Crook’s, Mr. Smith worked with farmers and homestead gardeners as he foraged for ingredients for the Crook’s Corner menu.

For more information on Mr. Smith, visit

Summer Taste will also feature a live and silent auction. Tickets for the event are $65 for museum members and $75 for nonmembers and include a one-year membership. Seating is limited.

All proceeds will go to the Core Sound Waterfowl Museum and Heritage Center “Moving Home” fund. Museum officials hope to be fully moved back into the building by April 2020.

For more information, visit or call 252-728-1500.

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