For the second straight year, students and faculty from ECPI University’s College of Culinary Arts, Culinary Institute of Virginia, were invited to prepare the feast at the Shirley Plantation Shrimp Boil, featuring locally-grown freshwater prawns. Larger than regular shrimp, these hefty delicacies are native to Asia, but grown in specially-designed ponds on the plantation’s grounds.
“There are no chemicals used to grow our freshwater shrimp and they are consumed within a few feet of where they are produced,” says Shirley Plantation Foundation President Charles Carter. “This event is designed to be great deal of fun, but also highlights the importance of locally-grown food. There’s no transportation cost or impact to the environment, plus the food source and handling is known. Raised on grain produced right here on the farm, these shrimp are the freshest you will ever eat.
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“Shrimp purchased at a store or restaurant often come from half a world away, are transported frozen and stored for weeks at the cost of many gallons of fuel burned. They also contribute to declining fish stocks, and can be mislabeled and come from countries with less stringent environmental or health regulations than the U.S.”
Established to raise money for the centuries-old plantation, this annual feast also includes potatoes, corn, and kielbasa cooked in a spicy Creole broth. “This is a tremendous opportunity for our students,” says Culinary Institute of Virginia Chef Greg Burroughs. “Upon graduation, many of our students may be involved with outdoor catering which involves a specific array of challenges involving sanitation and temperature control.
“They also gain exposure to the farm-to-table movement. More and more people are interested in eating food that is grown in nearby, sustainable environments. The aquaculture operation at Shirley Plantation is an excellent example of this.”