It was meant to be unique. A week-long event in 2021 that would showcase and hopefully benefit local businesses after their doozy of a 2020. But Duke’s Mayo diehards are, well, diehards, and Hot Tomato Summer is from back for the second year, this time with nearly triple the number of participating restaurants.
“We opened it up to everyone,” says Rebecca Lupesco, Duke’s marketing manager.
From pop-ups like Oro and SmashedRVA to mainstays like Can Can, more than 50 Richmond restaurants are taking part in this year’s campaign, from Monday July 18 through Sunday July 24. There are also a dozen restaurants in Greenville, SC (home of Duke creator Eugenia Duke) hosting their own Hot Tomato Summer.
Lupesco says the only stipulation for participating restaurants was to add one to three new dishes combining tomatoes and Duke’s to their menu for the week. “We try to leave it as open as possible so chefs can really take ownership,” she says.
This autonomy means restaurants can share details of their dishes widely on social media, or they can choose a more cryptic approach.
Whether or not they research the menu ahead of time, diners are sure to stumble upon traditional offerings like River City Roll’s BLT made with “meaty” Hanoverian tomatoes, applewood-smoked bacon, and the perfect smear. from Duke’s.
Or maybe a classic Southern staple will beckon, like Pies and Cakes Bakery’s recently opened tomato pie, made with a “buttery puff pie crust filled with Duke’s Mayo and mascarpone cream and topped incredible Village Garden tomatoes and fresh basil. .”
Diners looking to mix things up will also find food and drink that pay homage to the classic summertime pairing in unexpected ways.
Take, for example, the Smoky Mug’s “Rickey at the Garden Party,” bartender Danny McDermott’s original cocktail featuring “Duke Tomato Pineapple Chiffon Washed Gin, Tomato Lime Cordial, and Topo Chico”.
And then there’s Ari Augenbaum, owner and chef of JewFro and Soul Taco, who seized the opportunity to dabble in “Chopped” and use the simple staples of summer to whip up dishes. really inventive and nuanced. Augenbaum says Soul Taco’s Hot Tomato contribution was inspired by the ultimate nostalgic, tomato-centric comfort food — tomato soup and grilled cheese. The riff on the classic will feature a cheesy pupusa stuffed with candied tomatoes and bacon jam, served with a charred tomato aioli using Duke’s.
“On the JewFro side, we really wanted it to feel like a real summer dish,” says Augenbaum. In true JewFro fashion, the dish draws inspiration from both Jewish and African cuisine while blending in with the true flavors of the American South. Please see: Mr. Pibb’s Glazed Baby Ribs with a Side of Mashed Potatoes and Coleslaw.
Of course, the ribs are beef (not pork at JewFro), and will also include a shakshuka tomato glaze, plus spices like cilantro, garlic, and cumin. The coleslaw brings the Duke’s plus Ras el hanout, a Tunisian spice blend, while the potatoes incorporate more African elements like the Ethiopian spices niter kibbeh and berbere.
“We went this direction because this dish screams ‘American Summer’ but also gives our JewFro vibe,” says Augenbuam.
In addition to indulging his culinary creativity, this year’s campaign also marks the start of what Augenbaum hopes will be a long and fruitful partnership with the iconic Southern brand.
“We did our best [in the past] washing dishes with Duke’s and posting our photos and videos on social media hoping they get on with it and each time they didn’t,” says Auguenbaum, who feared the brand would simply not interested in his creations. “When they contacted us this year, we realized it wasn’t us! So not only are we very happy about it retroactively, but we’re very happy to be included this year.
- Nar Hovnanian, partner of JewFro
Augenbaum’s business partner, Nar Hovnanian, says they’ve been shaking their duke’s loot in the kitchen in anticipation of the big event. “We’re really excited, we saw the event floating around on Instagram last year and thought ‘This looks so cool,'” Hovnanian says. “When they contacted us, we did a dizzying little dance.”
While the highlight of the event is the celebration of tomato season, Duke’s and the local food scene, the campaign also has a philanthropic bent – something like Duke-flavored frosting on a tomato cake. , maybe. Duke’s will donate $5,000 to support the nonprofit Shalom Farms and Sauer Brands will match that amount with its own $5,000 donation.
“Hopefully we can expand that every year,” says Lupesco. “Cities like Charleston and Nashville – there’s so much potential.” Here’s hoping the brand can continue to spread twangy cheer for many hot, hot summers to come.
To find a full list of participating restaurants, head to the Duke’s website. For updates on fun giveaways and to see the Duke team eat every Hot Tomato dish available in town in real time, follow them on Instagram, @dukes_mayonnaise.