Executive chef Shelley Cooper with TerraMae will host a one-year anniversary party Thursday. (Photo: Contributed)

TerraMae Appalachian Bistro is celebrating its one-year anniversary Thursday, Jan. 30 at 6 p.m. with a special celebration of gourmet Southern cuisine.

Executive chef Shelley Cooper has invited five regional chefs from throughout the region whom she’s worked with on her culinary journey.

At the event, each chef will have a chef’s table with food and drinks for the guests to sample.

Tickets are $115 each and can be purchased here. $50 of each ticket will benefit Siskin’s Children Institute.

Live music will be provided by the Old Time Travelers.

TerraMae is located on East 10th Street inside Stone Fort Inn.

The five participating chefs bring a variety of skills and approaches to the table. The common theme is a deep appreciation for Southern cuisine.

We asked each of the chefs, along with Cooper, to answer a simple question: What is the most underappreciated Southern food? And why should we be eating more of it?

Here are the responses:

Bruce Lafone, personal chef in Asheville, N.C.
While I think there are many underappreciated Southern foods, sorghum is one of my favorites! There are so many uses for this "ancient grain." I love using the sorghum molasses in place of honey, sorghum flour is great for gluten-free foods, and even the seeds can be popped. Imagine miniature popcorn but better, since there are no hard hulls! There is quite a bit of sorghum grown here in western N.C., and my favorite place to get mine is from Valle Crucis, N.C.

Chef Bruce Lafone says sorghum is like "mini-popcorn." (Photo: Wikipedia)

John Campbell, pastry chef at The Blackbird in Asheville
This was a tough question! Being a pastry chef, I try and find a way to tie in local and seasonal ingredients, but one food I use a lot of is dairy. For me, the most underrated ingredient is local dairy, specifically buttermilk. I use it in my biscuits, but I also make a delicious buttermilk ice cream, and it's great for bread pudding as well. However, in its pure state, buttermilk has many health benefits. Active cultures in buttermilk aid in digestion, and despite its name, it has 75 percent less fat than whole milk and is full of vitamins and minerals that are good for you. In Asheville, we have a great service called Farm to Home, which delivers milk right to your doorstep. Maple View Dairy of Hamptonville, N.C., supplies all the milk for Farm to Home, and it's a great and consistent product that is available to everyone, not just restaurants. Most people, I believe, are turned off by buttermilk; but by accessing a local dairy and learning about how good buttermilk actually is for you, I think everyone could learn to love it like I do!

Shelley Cooper, executive chef at TerraMae
Without a doubt cornbread in milk, and sometimes buttermilk—in my opinion, it's the ultimate comfort food. Typically eaten out of a tall glass, the cornbread is crumbled into the milk and then spooned out like a cereal. If you choose to have this experience, I highly suggest you be in your PJs—because once you have a glass of this Southern treat, you are soon to be in a dreamland food coma.

Chef Kyle Woodruff with Waypoint Seafood & Grill suggests branching out when trying Chesapeake Bay seafood. Cobia (pictured) is a good choice. (Photo: Wikipedia)

Kyle Woodruff, executive chef at Waypoint Seafood & Grill in Williamsburg, Va.
Being from Virginia and growing up along the rivers that flow into the Chesapeake Bay, I have a LOVE for a lot of the seafood that flourishes in the bay and rivers of coastal Virginia. When folks that are not from Virginia think of seafood from the bay, the top things that come to most people's mind are blue crabs, oysters and rockfish. Although these are a few of my favorites, the bay has a lot more to offer than just those three species. Bluefish, flounder, croaker, drum, clams, tautog, black bass, cobia, sheepshead and sea trout are only a few. My answer would be that some of the less popular species from the Chesapeake Bay go a little unappreciated.

Emily Clary Woodruff, restaurant chef at Eagles on Kingsmill Resort in Williamsburg
As crazy as this may sound, I would have to answer this by saying the most underappreciated Southern food, in my opinion, is the handmade fried pie. It not only tastes delicious; it also has such a great memory for me. Taking leftover sweet potatoes (or strawberries from the garden) and stuffing them into some delicious, lard-laced pie dough, frying it in Crisco and sprinkling the top with cinnamon sugar, is almost a dream come true. I feel like that's a true Southern version of the doughnut. Whenever I have the opportunity to make these or order one, I am all over it! I just hope it comes with a scoop of buttermilk ice cream.

Rebecca Barron, chef at St. John’s Restaurant in Chattanooga
So I actually moved here to Tennessee from Wisconsin when I was 12, so I didn't grow up eating Southern food, but I absolutely love it! One of my favorite things is braised greens. And I don't know how often people are eating it, but I would eat them every day if I could. I like to take onions, garlic, chili paste and ham hock and then add any local greens I can get—such as collards, mustard or kale—add a little vinegar and cover with water and just let them braise until they're tender. Another thing I love that's happening with Southern food is Sequatchie Cove dairy cheeses (Dancing Fern is my favorite) and Sweet Grass Dairy cheeses, specifically their Green Hill cheese. It tastes like straight-up sweet cream butter. I love it!

St. John's chef Rebecca Barron said she could eat braised greens every day. (Photo: Wikipedia)