In A Fine Pickle

That’s where Dan Sheridan finds himself, as his Wilmington Pickling Company picks up business

Anyone who knows his or her nursery rhymes has certainly heard of pickled peppers, but Dan Sheridan encourages you to try his pickled peaches too.

While you’re at it, take a bite of the pickled asparagus.

Sheridan, who cooks part-time at Bryan Sikora’s La Fia Bakery Market Bistro on Market Street, joined forces with two friends, Brian Crowley and Chris Huot, two years ago to create the Wilmington Pickling Company.

“We were looking for something that we could start part-time, generate some income and have fun,” Sheridan says.

The trio all had restaurant experience and had dabbled with pickle recipes on the job. Sheridan met Crowley when they worked at the old Bistro on the Brandywine, a restaurant in Chadds Ford, Pa. They met Huot when they began working at Cantwell’s Tavern in Odessa, where Huot was the manager.

The three got the pickling business off to a good start, but Sheridan is now running it by himself. There was no falling out, he explains; Crowley and Huot just decided they wanted to focus on their fulltime jobs.

So Sheridan is now pretty much a one-man show. He picks his produce (virtually all of it grown in Delaware), creates the brine, fills and seals the jars and handles the distribution to a select group of markets throughout the state.

“Everything,” he says, “is hand-cut, hand-packed, and hand-sealed.”

And when it comes to sales, Sheridan is pretty adept at putting those jars right in his customers’ hands. Through the fall, he will be easy to find on Wednesdays—offering samples under his tent at the Rodney Square Farmers Market.

At his table, Sheridan offers five varieties, starting with his “flagship recipe”—garlic, dill and Thai chili pickles.

“Delicious. Very fresh,” says a woman named Toni after a quick taste test that prompted her to hand Sheridan $8 for a jar to take home.

For those who prefer a hotter taste, Wilmington Pickling has bread and butter jalapeños, a concoction whose serious heat is sweetened and softened by its bread and butter brine.
Pickled peppers are, well, just that, but pickled peaches are most definitely in a league of their own.

Wilmington Pickling uses peaches picked fresh at Fifer Orchards in Wyoming and soaked in a solution of cinnamon, vanilla bean and lavender grown at the Lavender Fields farm in Milton. Sheridan recommends mixing the pickled peaches with yogurt, as a topping on a bowl of ice cream or in a salad.

The blue hen on the label makes clear Wilmington Pickling's Delaware connection. (Photo by Joe del Tufo)
The blue hen on the label makes clear Wilmington Pickling’s Delaware connection. (Photo by Joe del Tufo)

The asparagus in Wilmington Pickling’s jars are also local—grown at Willey Farms in Townsend.

The origin of the ingredients is definitely a key selling point —and the image of a blue hen on the label makes the Delaware connection clear.

“I like that it’s local, that I know where it’s coming from,” Wilmington resident Mike McDermott said as he purchased a jar from Sheridan at the Rodney Square market.
Using practically home-grown produce also resonates with Paul Smith, who lives on West Ninth Street near Little Italy. Sheridan expects to open a small take-out business there, to be called Locale BBQ Post, by the end of the year. The new eatery, as its name suggests, will emphasize barbecue, but will also give Sheridan a high-traffic area for marketing the Wilmington Pickling line.

“Barbecue and pickles are a natural,” he says.

He will also be able to make his pickles on site and have more room to build an inventory. Currently, he rents space by the day in a commercial kitchen in a New Castle industrial park whenever he has a batch of pickles to make.

Pickling, the process of preserving food in a seasoned brine or vinegar blend, has been used for generations, but the presence of homemade pickled products on restaurant menus is relatively new.

In the kitchen, Sheridan uses 8-gallon pots to boil the pickle brine, made from a recipe that includes apple cider and distilled white vinegars as well as sugar salt. He adds different ingredients according to what is being pickled. The vinegars act as a preservative, the salt draws juices from the cucumber, and the added spices give each item its distinct flavor.

Sheridan sells his wares at the Wilmington Farmers Market every Wednesday in the fall. (Photo by Joe del Tufo)
Sheridan sells his wares at the Wilmington Farmers Market every Wednesday in the fall. (Photo by Joe del Tufo)

While the brine boils, Sheridan slices the cucumbers—or peaches, or peppers, or whatever will be used in the day’s batch. He takes care to keep the size of the pieces uniform to ensure consistent quality.

After the raw vegetables or peaches are packed tightly into the jars, the hot brine is poured into the jars. After the cap is screwed on, the jars are processed in another pot of boiling water, creating the pressure that seals the lid tight.

The jars don’t have to be refrigerated until after they’re opened, and they have a shelf life of six to seven months, he says.

Sheridan wants his customers to know that his pickled produce receives personal attention. “Chances are I cut the spears, packed the jars and tasted the batch,” he says. “There’s an extra bit of care that goes into it.”

Sheridan, who grew up near Rockford Park in Wilmington, graduated from McKean High School in 2000, then took classes for a while at the University of Delaware and Widener University before deciding on a career as a cook. He literally traveled halfway around the world to get his education, enrolling at Le Cordon Bleu Australia in Sydney. After graduation, he returned to Wilmington and worked in the kitchen at the Hotel DuPont before moving on to Bistro on the Brandywine and Cantwell’s.

Since Sheridan is cooking at La Fia now, Sikora has placed jars of Wilmington Pickling products on the shelves of his market. That has led to some interesting experiences for Sheridan, when customers ask about the pickles and learn that the guy who made them is working in the kitchen.

Fifer Orchards, the source of the pickled peaches, also sells Wilmington Pickling products, as do Janssen’s Market and ProKitchen Gear in Greenville, Henretty’s Market in Hockessin and the Delaware Local Food Exchange in Elsmere. Sheridan is gradually building his distribution network. For additional sales locations, check listings at

Sheridan says he is also hearing from area farms, which have picked up on the buzz and are interested in having him pickle some of their produce. One intriguing possibility: pickled watermelon.

“I made it once at a restaurant. It didn’t turn out too bad,” he says. “Once we mess around with the recipe, we’ll be able to nail it.”

A Fine Idea

Inaugural event will showcase 21 upscale area restaurants

Twenty area restaurants will offer specially-crafted menus at prix-fixe prices during Brandywine Valley Restaurant Week from Monday, Sept. 8, through Saturday, Sept. 13.
Participating restaurants in this inaugural event are from Northern Delaware and Southern Chester County, and all but one are owner-operated. That lineup is intentional, as a principal goal of Brandywine Valley Restaurant Week is to highlight the culinary talent and local food producers that are unique to the area. So, expect to taste local meats, cheese, produce and wine that will in many cases be prepared by the creative mind behind the restaurant.

“We have assembled a great team of fantastic restaurant minds, chefs, and collaborators to work together to create an event that will set this week apart,” says Carl Georigi, owner of twoparticipating restaurants—Eclipse and Red Fire.

“This gives people who’ve never been to one of my restaurants an excellent reason to give us a try,” says Dan Butler, owner of three contributing eateries—Deep Blue, Piccolina Toscana and Brandywine Prime.

“The Brandywine Valley is such an amazing area. I think it’s great for all of our local restaurants to participate so we can all together showcase what this area has to offer,” says Ann Kolenick, owner of The Gables at Chadds Ford.

Diners visiting two or more of the participants during Brandywine Valley Restaurant Week will have a chance to win an impressive grand prize—dinner for two once a month for a year.

For more information, visit

The Debate is On!

Best pumpkin ale to be decided at Bellevue event

The fourth annual Great Pumpkin Debate is back, on Saturday, Sept. 27, from 6 to 10 p.m. in Bellevue State Park’s Figure 8 Barn.

Hosted by Peco’s Liquors, the adults-only night will include a hayride through the park, a late night bonfire, and of course the great debate. There will be numerous pumpkin ales to vote on, but only one can win.

Live music and barbecue, provided by Big Rick’s BBQ, will be part of the festivities.
“The event is a lot of fun,” says Ed Mulvihill of Peco’s. “It’s a throw-back to being a kid, going on a hayride in the fall, enjoying the season, only it’s a grownup version with pumpkin beer.”

Tickets, which include the hayride and samples of the beers, are $30.
Proceeds will go toward the Partnership for the Delaware Estuary. “Let’s be honest, you can’t have great Delaware craft beer without clean water,” says Mulvihill.

For more information, visit

Cider: A Sweet Comeback

A breakfast drink in colonial times, its popularity
suffered devastating blows before exploding on the market over the past few years

Cider has a long and colorful history. In the United States, it predates beer as the drink of choice for 17th century colonists, and it maintained that prominence until the Industrial Revolution and later, Prohibition, reduced its popularity.

But today cider* is enjoying a resurgence. Due partly to a craft beer movement that has opened new doors, U.S. production has tripled to more than 32 million gallons over the past three years, and sales are expected to climb an unbelievable 80 percent this year compared to 2013.

Made from apple juice—and now pear and pomegranate, and many other fruit options and combinations—cider is fermented like beer or wine in tanks, then placed in bottles or kegs. Like beer, colors range from light to dark, with alcohol content similar to some beers, at about 5 percent ABV.

“Cider is up there with the most popular stuff right now,” says Jeff Kreston of Kreston Wine & Spirits in Wilmington. “It’s one of the faster-moving products.”

The Water Alternative

Cider has had an international appeal for centuries, especially in England, Ireland, France and Spain. It was drunk before the Norman conquest of England in 1066, and can be traced back to the Roman Empire. The United Kingdom has always maintained the highest per capita consumption and currently accounts for 25 percent of the world’s production, boasting some of the largest cider-making companies in the world, such as H.P. Bulmer of London.

When colonists came to America they brought cider with them, and drank a lot of it. It was considered a healthy alternative to water, which was often unclean and potentially lethal.
By 1767, cider consumption in Massachusetts was 35 gallons per capita. It was often drunk with breakfast, even though it contained at least 6 percent alcohol. (John Adams and Thomas Jefferson were said to down it by the tankard every morning.)

It was by far America’s most popular drink, beating wine and beer, until the Industrial Revolution in the late 18th and mid-19th centuries. That’s when grain became more widely produced on farms in the Midwest. As the Industrial Revolution impacted farming and millions of new immigrants brought with them a craving for beer, that became the popular daily beverage.

Then, during Prohibition (1920-33), cider was banned along with other alcoholic beverages, and fields of apple trees grown specifically for cider use were burned to the ground. These trees, whose fruit was more bitter and tannic than apples grown for eating, would take three to six years after Prohibition to produce apples again. Largely as a result, for the next few decades cider disappeared from the public’s radar.

Craft Beer’s New Frontier

Cider didn’t make a noticeable appearance again in the U.S. until the late 20th century, but over the past two to three years its popularity has escalated. Area experts believe that the jump in sales has a direct connection with the craft beer movement.

“Cider really fits where craft beer was 10 years ago,” says Chris Tigani, president of World Class Wholesale in New Castle. “It has major potential. The craft beer revolution has helped many people be okay with experimenting with new products, and the country as a whole has a love affair with sweeter things. Customers have a little bit of a hop hangover.”

Says Kreston, who started noticing costumer interest peak about two years ago when brands like Angry Orchard began to attract more consumers: “I think it’s part of the craft beer movement. The markets are similar—the original ciders weren’t exciting, and now as they get into it more and more, unique ciders and flavors are developing.” Another advantage: Cider is gluten-free, thus appealing to customers who might be looking for an alternative to beer.

While cider sales are surging at liquor stores, bars and restaurants, a dichotomy exists within the industry between many concentrated, mass-produced ciders and craft ciders.
Most popular brands like Woodchuck and Strongbow, which use concentrated apple juice and additives, originally controlled 90 percent of the cider business. Macro brewers like Stella Artois are on the cider wagon with their own light-bodied cider, and big-time Boston Beer Company, Inc. created Angry Orchard Hard Cider. But market shares for mainstream players are down from more than 80 percent to 30 percent, says Tigani, because craft ciders are on the rise.

Ciders like McKenzie’s, Doc’s Draft Hard Ciders and even Crispin Hard Cider are made using traditional methods with all-natural, hand pressed apples. The quality that people have come to expect from craft is now “coming to pass” in the cider category, Tigani says. “You’re seeing a lot more people using cider from hand-pressed apples and making an all-natural product.”

Some O&A cider suggestions for your consideration:

Ccrispin_pear1rispin Natural Hard Blackberry Pear Cider: This 5 percent, dry, fizzy, freshly-pressed blackberry pear cider is sweet and tangy, naturally fermented using 100 percent pear juice – not pear juice concentrate or flavored hard apple cider.mckenzies1

McKenzie’s Seasonal Reserve: As with all of McKenzie’s products, this variety is crafted from apples sourced close to the New York brewery, in an area known as the “Apple Belt.” And with the addition of cinnamon, nutmeg, and other subtle spicy flavors swirling around in each bottle, it’s like distilled apple pie. A perfect beverage for fall and the end-of-the-year holidays.

angry_orchardThe Muse from Angry Orchard: Experts might argue whether this is actually a true hard cider or a sparkling wine, but the wiser among them will simply sit back, sip and enjoy. Sweet flavors of apples mixed with seasonal spices and notes of oak, all lifted with champagne bubbles – what’s not to like?

samuel_smithSamuel Smith’s Organic Cider: A Certified Organic cider, coming in at 5 percent ABV, it’s extremely light, crisp and dry.

*Cider, also known as “hard cider” to many Americans, is not to be confused with apple cider, a non-alcoholic drink.

A Tasteful Cause

Participants in The Farmer & The Chef hope to raise $85,000 this year

The Farmer & The Chef, an annual fundraiser for March of Dimes, pairs local farmers with local chefs for a classic cook-off, boasting the culinary skill and output of some of northern Delaware’s best restaurants and farms.

In this artisan-style tasting event, farmers provide their product to chefs, and chefs create tasting samples to event-goers, who will vote on their favorites.

This seventh annual fundraiser once again will take place on the Riverfront at the Chase Center in Wilmington on Thursday, Sept. 18.

The March of Dimes and The Delaware Department of Agriculture have teamed up to present it, with proceeds going directly to the nonprofit. The goal for 2014 is $85,000.
“It is wonderful to know that we have access to these great local ingredients and the amazing things that can be done with them,” says Aleks Casper, state director of the March of Dimes. “And everyone who attends always says how much fun they had.”

The event combines more than 30 farms, including Woodside Farms Creamery, Fifer Orchards, Bayberry Farms, and more than 30 chefs, like Paul Egnor of Pizza by Elizabeths, Wyatt Cresswell of Stewart’s Brewing Company, and Robbie Jester of 16 Mile Taphouse.
Area band Fat Daddy Has Been will perform.

Chef Eric Aber from Home Grown Café won last year’s event, teaming with Powers Farm and Filasky’s Produce.

Since the fundraiser began in 2007, $490,000 has been generated for the March of Dimes, which aims to improve the health of babies by preventing birth defects, premature birth and infant mortality. The organization focuses on advancing research on maternal and health issues, and helping moms have healthy, full-term pregnancies, while supporting families.

For more information, visit

Veg Out!

Produce is nudging protein to the side of the plate in many area restaurants

Only a few years ago, a six-course restaurant menu that focused on tomatoes—or any vegetable or fruit—might not prompt patrons to pay $120 each for the meal. But last month, just such a menu filled nearly every seat at The House of William & Merry in Hockessin for a Share Our Strength benefit.

Courses featured locally grown cherry tomatoes, heirloom tomatoes and beets. Plates were dressed with tomato powder, tomato gel, sun-dried tomato crumble and cherry wood-smoked tomato gravy.

Cocktails included pickled green tomatoes, muddled tomato jam and a skewer of cubed feta and an heirloom tomato. While there was protein on the plates—tuna crudo, lobster, fluke and lamb—tomatoes were clearly the star.

The menu is on the cutting edge. Locally grown produce ranks No. 2 on the list of the 2014 top 20 trends published by The National Restaurant Association. Today, consumers are eager to eat their vegetables—even if as children they pinched their nose while downing Brussels sprouts.

Freshness is a factor. “The farm-to-table movement is not a fad,” says Dan Butler, owner of Piccolina Toscana, Deep Blue Bar and Grill, and Brandywine Prime Seafood & Chops. “It’s a reality that locally grown products taste better and are often less expensive, and in our world, that’s best demonstrated by vegetables.”

At this time of year, the trend is particularly strong, as attendees at The Farmer & The Chef event, a March of Dimes fundraiser in Wilmington on Sept. 18, will witness firsthand.
Diners are often motivated by low-carb diets or health concerns. But adding veggies has also become a lifestyle choice. More people are following a plant-based diet – at least part of the time. Credit Mark Bittman’s book VB6: Eat Vegan Before 6:00 to Lose Weight and Restore Your Health…For Good.

Restaurant owners have taken note. At BellaVista Trattoria & Pizzeria in Pike Creek, all entrees are served with the choice of homemade soup or side salad and customers can get sautéed vegetables instead of pasta. Broccoli rabe, spinach and broccoli are available as sides. “Our vegetable lasagna is also super popular,” says owner Candace Roseo.

At Durney’s Deli in Wilmington’s Little Italy, owner Nancy Durney says customers often come in just for her vegetable-based sandwiches, which include the Roma panini with tomatoes, sautéed spinach, fresh mozzarella and pesto mayonnaise; and a veggie hoagie with roasted eggplant, long hot pepper, roasted red peppers, sautéed spinach and sharp provolone. “They’re not even vegetarian,” she says of many customers who choose these sandwiches over those with traditional Italian meats or turkey.

While meeting customer demand is putting vegetables in the spotlight, there are other reasons why restaurants are turning to sprouts, kale and spinach.

Jason Barrowcliff, chef at Brandywine Prime who participated in the tomato dinner, is an ardent gardener. He grows so much at home that he has plenty to use in the restaurant’s kitchen. (Barrowcliff once had 25 pounds of tomatoes from his garden.) This year, his harvest has been so plentiful that he has provided produce to other chefs, including Tim Smith, owner-chef of Twelves in West Grove.

For the Brandywine Prime, Barrowcliff has created dishes with his homegrown corn, heirloom tomatoes, and cucumbers. When some customers asked if there were any fresh jalapeños for their nachos, Barrowcliff presented them with four hot pepper varieties from his garden. “They were amazed,” he says. (Look for menu items with ingredients from the “Chef’s Garden.”)

This year, Barrowcliff gave each server a tomato plant to take home and grow. “I want them to see that if they taste their own tomato and then have one from a grocery store that there is no comparison,” he explains. “That’s true even with broccoli. I grew some this year and I will never eat it from a grocery store again.”

Matthew Curtis, owner of Union City Grille in Little Italy, has a plot in the Cool Springs reservoir garden project, and he purchases produce from a Bright Spot Ventures program, which teaches gardening to youths transitioning out of foster care. He also uses items, such as herbs, that are grown in his home garden.

Chefs without access to a home garden can take advantage of area produce stands. Bryan Sikora of La Fia in Wilmington and Robert Lhulier of University & Whist Club frequently post photos of their ripe finds at SIW Vegetables in Chadds Ford.

“In summer, it’s all about the veg, yes,” says Lhulier, whose August dinner saluting the late Chef Charlie Trotter featured a protein (tilefish) in just one course. The menu included watermelon-tomato gazpacho with a tomato sorbet; a composed late-summer salad with heirloom tomatoes, beets, zucchini and blueberries; and Bing cherry cake.

But the love affair doesn’t end come autumn. Butler is excited about whipping up purees with root vegetables, including rutabaga and celery root. “As much as I love summer, I love cooking in fall,” he says.

While access to local produce can inspire creative dishes, there are other reasons why chefs are putting more vegetables on the plate. The wide assortment lets culinary wizards add texture and color to a dish, says David Leo Banks, executive chef of the Harry’s Hospitality Group.

New veggies and preparations can also offer a bit of excitement. “You get bored with string beans and asparagus,” Banks says. “There’s fun in eggplants and squash.”
He enjoys going to the Newark Farmers Market and spotting Asian and Latino fruits and vegetables—some of which he’s never seen before. A few items—think kohlrabi—may lack much flavor on their own, but they serve as a crunchy or colorful conduit for other ingredients, such as soy or spicy peppers.

Adding a generous amount of vegetables to a dish also enhances the sense of value; the customer feels he or she is getting more for the dollar. At Harry’s Savoy Grill, vegetables are part of what’s known as a “set,” or a composed plate. Even the steaks get a vegetable.
Many dishes at Toscana also include a vegetable—unless it’s a pasta dish, which usually has vegetables in the sauce or the pasta. “The eggplant ravioli is a vegetarian dish, but people don’t say they are eating it for that reason,” Butler says. “They say: ‘I love the eggplant ravioli.’”

Vegetable-based dishes are also becoming popular as starters or small plates. Moro in Wilmington offers a vegetable plate designed for sharing. Capers & Lemons features broccoli rabe and beans with chili flake and extra virgin olive oil as a starter. At Union City Grille, roasted cauliflower—rubbed with olive oil, salt and pepper and sliced thin—“flies out of here,” Curtis says.

Even the traditional salad is getting some oomph. Harry’s Savoy has a shaved Brussels sprouts salad with toasted Marcona almonds, egg and pecorino cheese. Beet salad has made it through four menu changes at Toscana.

Just because diners are eating more vegetables in a restaurant does not always mean the dishes are good for them. Brussels sprouts—little trendy bundles of goodness—are often tossed with bacon or pancetta. They’re even fried. “We’re in the business of making food that people like, not that will keep them healthy; we’re not a health food restaurant,” Butler notes.

The popularity of sprouts and kale shows no sign of waning. In fact, this fall you might spot kalettes—a marriage of the two—in grocery stores.

What’s next? Some say okra, which would please Banks. “It’s one of the most beautiful vegetables in the world,” he says.

Butler isn’t convinced. “If okra is ‘in,’” he says, “I’m out.”

Fresh from the Farm

You can purchase food or handpick produce yourself at several area locations

For quick access to fresh, healthy produce, meats and dairy, look no further than area farms.

Below are a few on-site farm markets, stands and CSA (community supported agriculture) opportunities at local farms. At some locations, you can roll up your sleeves and pick the produce yourself.

Visit for more options. Happy picking, browsing, and feasting!

SIW (Stepped in What) Vegetables
4317 S. Creek Rd.
Chadds Ford, Pa.
SIW grows vegetables, fruits and flowers on the family farm in the Brandywine River Valley. The farm stand, open through Halloween from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. every day, is also a CSA.

Thornbury Farm CSA
1256 Thornbury Rd.
West Chester, Pa.
The farm offers a CSA and farm stand/market Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Free-range eggs, local milk and cheese are available. CSA members get a discount on extra produce and farming classes.

Highland Orchards
1000 Marshallton-Thorndale Rd.
West Chester, Pa.
There’s always something going on at the farm at Highland Orchards, with more than 200 acres of crops. Customers can buy already-picked produce at the farm market, or they can opt to pick their own. Fresh produce from neighbor farms in Chester and Lancaster counties is also available. The market is open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday to Saturday and the PYO field is open until 5 p.m.

Whimsical Farms
3315 Steele Rd.
The 15-acre, family-owned Whimsical Farms raises pastured pigs, sheep for wool and meat, free-range chickens (primarily for eggs), and cows and turkeys. The farm is currently taking orders for turkeys, whole chickens, and fruit-fed, pastured pigs.

Fifer Orchards
1919 Allabands Mill Rd.
Along with a farm market, Fifer Orchards offers “U-pick” crops – just check in with a staff member for containers and instructions before proceeding to the fields or orchards.

Fair Weather Farm at Fair Hill
5727 Telegraph Road
Elkton, Md.
Fair Weather Farm’s CSA fall harvest runs from Sept. 15 through Dec. 15, and includes greens, squash, root crops and discounts on pumpkins.

Meadowset Farm & Apiary
210 North Creek Rd.
Landenberg, Pa.
The farm’s new store is open from 4-6 p.m. Monday to Friday, Saturday 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sunday 8 a.m. to noon. Aged sheep cheese, honey, and fresh, grass-fed lamb are available.

Get Thee Out to the Arts this Fall

A September—and beyond—preview


Arden’s tradition of eclectic lineups carries on this fall, with locally grown indie sounds, jazz guitar and ethnic “chaos” permeating the tranquil grove. The classic rockabilly of The Blasters fills the 160-year-old hall on Thursday, Sept. 11. Intense folk rock from Strand of Oaks switches up the scene on Thursday, Sept. 18. Friday, Sept. 26, debuts funky jazz from Charlie Hunter and Scott Amendola. Friday, Oct. 3, finds Carolina Chocolate Drops founder Dom Flemons celebrating a new LP with his trio. And Friday, Nov. 14, brings DakhaBrakha—Ukrainian musicians who give a modern, outrageously theatrical spin on folk music from Kiev.
Arden Gild Hall, 2126 The Highway, Arden
475-3126 •

CCAC Photo A


CCAC has some serious musical star power this season. On Friday, Oct. 17, An Evening with Gregory Porter hits the baby grand stage. The Grammy award–winning vocalist and actor gives an intimate, one-night-only benefit performance. Want VIP treatment? Special event and ticket packages are available by calling The Grand box office. Single concert tickets can be purchased at CCAC is quickly becoming the “it spot” for intimate live entertainment; look for more hot tickets in the coming months.
705 N. Market St., Wilmington
652-0101 •


Delaware’s off-Broadway turns 21 and with a little help from its friends, the celebration will take place Friday, Oct. 3, at World Cafe Live at the Queen. For more information on COME TOGETHER, an evening of Beatles music, see “Tuned In.” CTC’s main stage season arrives in December with the Tony Award–winning The Dead, a holiday musical based on a short story by James Joyce. CTC’s Fearless Improv also returns to deliver laughs monthly at Arden’s Buzz Ware Village Center, beginning Friday, Sept. 19. Season tickets will be available online Sept. 30.
The Black Box at OperaDelaware Studios, 4 S. Poplar St., Wilmington • 220-8285 •

National Center For Children's Illustrated Literature.DELAWARE ART MUSEUM

Look inside the mind of a renowned children’s book illustrator/author with From Houdini to Hugo: The Art of Brian Selznick, running Saturday, Oct. 18, through Sunday, Jan. 11. The exhibit features more than 100 works, including images of Harry Houdini, Walt Whitman, Marian Anderson, and the fictional Hugo Cabret, an orphan who lives in a busy Paris train station. The illustrations are accompanied by Selznick’s many books: The Houdini Box; Walt Whitman: Words for America; Amelia and Eleanor Go for a Ride; The Dinosaurs of Waterhouse Hawkins, and Frindle— allowing visitors to connect the image to the story.
2301 Kentmere Pkwy., Wilmington
571-9590 •


The DCCA presents a thought-provoking exhibition, American Idols (through Sunday, Oct. 26) by John Moran. History buffs, this one’s for you! Glass sculptures of 43 presidents, recast as reality TV stars. Simultaneously, DCCA: A 35-Year History (Saturday, Oct. 11-Sunday, Jan. 4) charts the evolution of the DCCA since its founding. I’m looking forward to the new DCCA Art Lounge + Sales Gallery. On Wednesday, Sept. 10, and second Wednesdays from 5-7 p.m., the lounge features art exhibitions, trunk shows, lively conversation and a cash bar in a casual, hip setting.
200 S. Madison St., Wilmington
656-6466 •


DTC’s season brings a little something for everyone — love, loss and laughter with a dash of Broadway sparkle. Starring Michael Learned and Daniel Davis, Love Letters (Sept. 17-Oct. 5) proves what divides us is rarely as powerful as what connects us, and love usually comes when you least expect it. Rest, In Pieces (Nov. 5-23) is a “dramedy” about the typical family dealing with loss. The holiday season arrives in time for Steve Solomon’s smash, My Mother’s Italian, My Father’s Jewish, And I’m Home For The Holidays (Dec. 3-21). In the spring, look for Nora, a riveting retelling of Henrik Ibsen’s A Doll’s House (Feb. 4-22) and the new musical Because of Winn Dixie (April 8-May 3), a heartwarming story about the friendship between a girl and her dog, based on the book by Kate DiCamillo.
200 Water St., Wilmington
594-1100 •


Delaware’s Broadway Experience starts with the smash musical comedy Sister Act, running Oct. 14-19. Next (Dec. 9-14) is Cirque Dreams Holidaze, with more than 300 costumes, 20 acts and 30 performers showcasing heart-pounding, gravity-defying feats. Peter and the Starcatcher, the swashbuckling prequel to Peter Pan, romps through our Neverland of Wilmington from Feb. 17-22. The DuPont’s season finishes with Rain: A Tribute to the Beatles (March 6-8), Camelot (April 14-19) and perennial favorite Guys and Dolls (May 12-17).
DuPont Building, 1007 N. Market St., Wilmington
656-4401 •


This could easily be FSBT’s busiest year, featuring a Delaware premiere, a Freeman Stage showcase, and performances of Giselle at Dover’s Schwartz Center and the Grand Opera House (Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 18 and 19). FSBT’s signature Up Front series (Saturday, Nov. 15) showcases classical and contemporary works, and its annual tradition—The Nutcracker with the Delaware Symphony and the Wilmington Children’s Chorus (Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 20 and 21)—continues at DelTech’s Georgetown campus and the Grand. The Delaware premiere of The Young Lady and the Hooligan—a gritty, modern ballet—is seldom performed outside of Russia. FSBT’s season closes with Coppélia, an all-ages ballet, where an old man’s fantasy and young love collide with hilarious results.
818 N. Market St., Wilmington
658-7897 •


September is non-stop for our pals at Gable, with bookings all over town, including the Queen. On Saturday, Sept. 13, Angela Sheik releases her new CD, Home Before Dark. On Friday, Sept. 19, the 36th consecutive singer-songwriter showcase (formerly The 6) features Joe Trainor (also his birthday) and Gable’s Jeremy Hebbel with Christine Holmes. Also on the bill is Israeli R&B artist Hadar, Jerzy Jung, Frank Viele and Aaron Nathans & Michael Ronstadt. On Friday, Sept. 26, local blues heavyweights Kitty Mayo & the Emperess Band, Venom Blues and What’s in the Box collaborate on a show celebrating the return of the Queen’s Wednesdays Blues Night. Tickets for all shows are on sale now.
World Cafe Live at the Queen, 501 N. Market St.,
Extreme Pizza, 201 N. Market St., Wilmington

The Grand-Willie Nelson PhotoTHE GRAND OPERA HOUSE

The Grand doesn’t disappoint as headliners and legends light up its season. This month, enjoy the Grammy®-nominated Kenny Wayne Shepherd Band on Tuesday, Sept. 9, and Emmylou Harris with Special Guest Nathaniel Rateliff on Thursday, Sept. 25. Then, outlaws get ready! Join the legendary Red-Headed Stranger for a night of Willie Nelson & Family on Wednesday, Sept. 10. Watch for exciting shows, including .38 Special, Last Comic Standing and more along the way this season.
818 N. Market St., Wilmington
652-5577 or 800-37-GRAND •

Melomanie PhotoMÉLOMANIE

Mélomanie—known for “provocative pairings of early and contemporary works”— celebrates its 21st Anniversary Concert & CD Release Party on Saturday, Sept. 13, in the picturesque Olympia Room of World Cafe Live at the Queen. Favorite works, guest artists and tracks from the new CD, Excursions, will be featured, complemented by champagne and desserts. Tickets can be purchased at Mélomanie also continues its second season as “Ensemble in Residence” at the Delaware Center for the Contemporary Arts, launching the concert series on Sunday, Feb. 1.
The DCCA, 200 S. Madison St., Wilmington
764-6338 •

Market Street MusicPhotoMARKET STREET MUSIC

MSM’s 2014-15 offers another rich and diverse lineup. Noontime Concerts kick off Thursday, Oct. 9, with the jazzy Terra Soul Project and continue weekly with artists like Pyxis Piano Quartet, SPARX and the Cartoon Christmas Trio. This season also marks the 25th anniversary of First & Central’s Gabriel Kney organ. Look for themed activities throughout the year—the first of which is The Phantom of the Opera: Live Music and the Original Silent Film on Saturday, Oct. 25. Experience Lon Chaney’s 1925 classic as Wilmington’s own Paul Fleckenstein accompanies with a score of organ music, arias and popular songs. In a month of spooky fun, it’s an evening not to be missed.
First & Central Presbyterian Church, 11 & Market Streets
Rodney Square, Wilmington
654-5371 •


With more than 100 programs annually, the School fulfills every musical taste. The monthly informal Classical Café (starting Saturday, Sept. 27), led by Dr. Holly Roadfelt, encourages dynamic discussion on an array of musical topics and is only
$10 to attend (plus, you get coffee and pastries). The free JAM IT! Bluegrass & Old Time Acoustic Sessions bring together music enthusiasts for a regular jam (starting Saturday, Sept. 27). Alumnus and violinist Ben Shute returns to the Music School stage on Wednesday, Oct. 22, for his own concert with pianist Anna Dmytrenko.
4101 Washington St., Wilmington
762-1132 •


Join OperaDelaware Friday, Oct. 24, and Sunday, Oct. 26, to explore operatic excerpts from the least likely places — think Hollywood, Sesame Street and Madison Avenue. This Little Light of Mine is a one-woman homage to the groundbreaking, legendary careers of Marian Anderson and Leontyne Price. May brings
OperaDelaware’s Festival, featuring Peter Brook’s smash hit La Tragédie de Carmen, and the event Wine, Women & Food in Song, featuring Bon Appetit, Lee Hoiby’s hilariously loving tribute to Julia Child.
4 S. Poplar St., Wilmington
442-7807 •

REP Photo_Credit-Paul CerroTHE REP

UD’s professional theater delivers an exciting REPertoire, starting with the Pulitzer Prize–winning Angels in America: The Millennium Approaches (Sept. 25-Oct. 12) followed by Macbeth (Nov. 13-Dec. 7). The full season includes George Bernard Shaw’s The Millionairess (Jan. 22-Feb. 8), Juno and the Paycock (March 5-22), All in the Timing (April 15-May 10), and the wildly inventive and hilarious Hitchcock tribute, The 39 Steps (April 23-May 10).
Roselle Center for the Arts, 110
Orchard Rd., University of Delaware,
831-2204 •


Wilmington Drama League’s 81st season is bursting at its musical seams with Jesus Christ Superstar (Sept. 12-20), Big The Musical (Dec. 12-28), Smokey Joe’s Café, The Civil War and Wonderland. Dramas include To Kill A Mockingbird (Oct. 24-Nov. 2), Nathan the Wise (Nov. 13-16), Leaves and Lips Together, Teeth Apart. Add One-Act Festivals, classes and “Pillow Plays” for young drama lovers, and you have a got-to spot for all-ages drama fun.
North Lea Blvd., Wilmington
764-1172 •


September is a royal treat at the Queen, as Delaware’s second annual Irish and Celtic Music Festival, featuring The Young Dubliners, Barleyjuice & Brother, rolls in on Friday, Sept. 5. Exceptional performances continue with drum legend Terry Bozzio on Thursday, Sept. 11, Rusted Root on Tuesday, Sept. 16, singer-songwriter Edwin McCain on Thursday, Sept. 21, and the King of Newgrass, Sam Bush, on Saturday, Sept. 23. For the complete fall schedule, visit the Queen website.
500 N. Market St., Wilmington
994-1400 •

Slam Dunk to the Beach Returns

LeBron James appeared with St. Vincent-St. Mary in the 2001 edition of Slam Dunk to the Beach. The Fighting Irish will return to Lewes this December along with an impressive collection of regional and national high school basketball powers. (Photo by Getty Images)

After a 10-year absence, the legendary tournament returns to Lewes with a lineup of national powerhouses

Jerry Kobasa still remembers the buzz that pulsed through the cold beach air in December of 2001—the year LeBron came to town.

“From the coaches, the people in the community—it was, ‘did you see this guy?’”
For four days, the future NBA megastar took his talents to Lewes, Delaware, where he and his high school team, the defending Ohio Division III state champion St. Vincent–St. Mary Fighting Irish, came to play in one of the toughest, most high profile basketball tournaments in the country: Slam Dunk to the Beach. It was one year after Carmelo Anthony played in the tournament, and two years before Dwight Howard.
“You think about that—little old Delaware,” Kobasa says. “And you look back and think—jeez, LeBron was in Delaware playing basketball. Any basketball fan would be excited about that.”

Kobasa, the head coach of Wesley College men’s basketball team, didn’t miss much of the excitement during the initial, highly popular run of Slam Dunk to the Beach, which ran each year around Christmastime from 1990 to 2003 at the 2,300-seat gymnasium at Cape Henlopen High School. During its 14 years, the tournament grew into one of the nation’s premier showcases for young hoops talent, attracting some of the best teams and blue chip players in the land, and transforming a quiet beach community into a basketball hotbed once a year.

After a 10-year absence, the tournament has returned. Tipoff is scheduled for Saturday, Dec. 27, and play continues through Monday, Dec. 29.

In 2004, Slam Dunk’s founder and CEO Bobby Jacobs unexpectedly pulled the plug on the tournament and disappeared to Florida. As Slam Dunk’s unpaid bills piled up, Jacobs was arrested in 2007 in Miami and pleaded guilty to forgery and theft. In January 2008 Jacobs was sentenced to two years in prison, with one year suspended, and was ordered to pay $400,000 in restitution after pleading no contest to one felony count of misappropriation of property for taking thousands of dollars from the tournament fund.

In the years that followed, Jacobs dragged Slam Dunk’s legacy further into the abyss. He feuded with the Delaware Interscholastic Athletic Association, and sought vengeance on former collaborators who he believed helped reveal his accounting scams to authorities. He mailed threatening letters to some, and in June of 2009, he was arrested again—this time on three counts of felony stalking.

The tournament seemed dead. But this June, the fledgling Delaware Sports Commission announced that it had grabbed the rebound. Launched in 2009, the commission is a not-for-profit think-tank focused on state tourism, economic development and athletic events. The group was instrumental in attracting the Delaware 87ers as well as the U.S. Women’s National Team exhibition later this month.

Cheick Diallo and Our Savior New American School (Centereach, N.Y.), ranked No. 9 in the nation last year by USA Today, will also appear at this year’s Slam Dunk. The 6-foot-9 Diallo is one of the top front-court prospects in the U.S. (Photo by Jon Lopez)

“We kept hearing from people wanting an event down in Sussex during the winter,” says the commission’s chairman, Dr. Matthew Robinson, a professor of sport management at UD’s Lerner College of Business and Economics. “So we revisited the tournament, did our legal diligence and decided to do it.” And though the Slam Dunk name might’ve been tarnished, it still had major brand recognition.

“And now we have to bring back only positive associations,” Robinson says. “We have the opportunity to create our own history.”

Slam Dunk 2.0 is already off to a solid start. With recruiting help from the Phoenix-based marketing firm Position Sports, this year’s tournament has lined up a slate of nationally ranked powerhouses like Sunrise Christian Academy from Wichita, Our Savior New American School in Centereach, N. Y., and Gonzaga College High School from Washington, D.C.

And just like its predecessor, the tournament will give Delaware schools a share of the spotlight. Salesianum, St. Georges, Sanford, Caesar Rodney and Cape Henlopen are set to participate. And LeBron’s alma mater, St. Vincent-St. Mary, will be back.

Organizers hope it’ll be enough to recapture the old Slam Dunk atmosphere. Besides Anthony, James and Howard, the first iteration drew future NBA talent like Tyson Chandler, Kendrick Perkins, J. J. Redick, Kris Humphries and Tayshaun Prince, as well as college and NBA scouts and coaches (Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski and Louisville’s Danny Crum famously attended).

“When it was in its heyday, the atmosphere was awesome,” says Kobasa, who was entrenched in every tournament during its first run, first as a caterer with his Sail Loft Restaurant, then as head coach for Sussex Tech High School.

“The gym would be lined with major college coaches and scouts checking out the talent. And you would see a lot of people that would get there at eight in the morning, set their chair down and not leave until after the last game at 10. Other than to get up to stretch their legs, they were there for the duration.”

The games also generated valuable tourism dollars and publicity. A 2002 study by UD’s Center for Applied Demography and Survey Research estimated 20,000 in total attendance for the tournament, and a $3.5 million bump to the local economy.

“What we want it to be is an event that’s all about high quality basketball,” Robinson says. “A positive experience for the student athletes and the people of Delaware. But what it’s also about is driving business into Sussex County during the winter.”

The community, the fans, and the basketball world stand poised for the re-launch, while prep school wunderkinds like Tyus Battle, Rawle Alkins and Cheick Diallo prepare to show Delaware a new superstar.

Says Kobasa: “Anytime you see talent like that, you just marvel at it.”

Intrepid Trio Complete the Mudderella

Nichole Warner, Marie Poot and Kelly Loeb enjoy a post-race libation.

Wilmington mothers run a rugged, messy course for a good cause

“It was an awesome day and we can’t wait to do it again.”

According to their self-deprecating captain, Nichole Warner, that was the exhilarating feeling shared by the three “Real Muddas of New Castle County” who finished the Mudderella in Kennett Square on Aug. 16.

Six “Muddas” had been slated to participate, but an injury and scheduling conflicts reduced the team to the original threesome—Warner, Marie Poot and Kelly Loeb. They were participating in the Mudderella as the second segment of the year-long O&A Fitness Challenge.

Mudderellas, which are targeted at women, include 12-15 obstacles designed to test strength and stamina. Events are not timed, and teamwork is encouraged. Mudderellas support Futures Without Violence, a national nonprofit that aims to prevent and end domestic violence.

Calling herself “a terrible captain,” Warner says every hill on the course would cause her to sputter, “This sucks.”

“But,” she says, “we made friends with another team and used their captain’s enthusiasm to spur us on, since my own was nowhere to be found.”

The course included jumping into waist-high muddy water, then climbing over 6- or 7-foot mud walls. The non-competitive event was marked by participants helping each other and even making way for faster, more intense teams.

The Wilmington threesome were somewhat hampered in their training because of obligations as working mothers of young children. “But we are healthier, and the experience was rewarding and we know just how strong we really are,” says Warner. (Appropriately, the theme for the event was “Own Your Strong.”)

She estimates that they finished the course in about an hour-and-a-half – “about middle of the pack.”

After the run, they were “greeted warmly with alcohol—which we gladly accepted,” says Warner. That was followed by a trip to the shower station, a large wood structure with dozens of hoses hanging down. “We donated our shoes, got changed, and rode over to Two Stones Pub for some more beer and lunch.”

The team had such a great time that they have made plans to do another obstacle course-style run in the fall.