Food Feud

Michelle Rock on Wish Upon a Chef

Michelle Rock—aka “Momma Rock”—once again gets the opportunity to share her love of food and community (and seek to regain her title!) when she participates in the upcoming Wish Upon a Chef fundraiser.

The New Orleans-raised chef plans to serve up another one of her Southern comfort dishes to a panel of judges later this month.

Proceeds benefit Make-A-Wish Eastern North Carolina, which grants wishes to critically ill children in the region.

For Rock, having the opportunity to showcase her Cajun cooking and help the community was a no brainer.

“I get the chance to make someone’s day a little better,” she says.

Her passion for food started as a child.

“I would come home from school, go in the kitchen, and just start creating,” Rock says. “I remember as a kid making sugar cookies and passing them out to family and friends. It grew into us making hundreds of sugar cookies every Christmas. That’s kind of what catapulted Momma Rock’s Desserts.”

Now, her childhood cookie-making has evolved into serving her treats locally.

She brought her love of food with her to Wilmington, and in time, opened up Momma Rock’s Dessert Truck.

A food truck made sense since there were clearly enough taco, hamburger, and barbecue options, she says.

She has also expanded her business to include seasonal Creole-style food with a second truck, T’Geaux Boys.

This year’s fundraiser is especially important to Rock because she is seeking to regain her title.

Two years ago, she won the dessert category with her bananas Foster bread pudding. She is on a mission this year with another bread pudding treat but is tight-lipped when asked what type.

“I am not releasing the information yet,” she says. “There will be a secret ingredient for sure, and, of course, some tasty liquor like bourbon or rum.”

True New Orleans style – exactly what to expect from this culinary connoisseur.

Rock is not resting easy knowing that there is stiff competition.

Last year’s winner, Nothing Bundt Cakes, is back. The contest is all taken in jest, Rock says.

She loves the friendly, competitive environment of the fundraiser.

“It’s a fun, crazy night,” Rock says. “I love going up against other chefs in the community. It brings us together.”

Jackie Jordan Welker, director of marketing and communications for Make-a-Wish of Eastern North Carolina, says there will be five judges who taste and vote on all the food.

“It’s done as a blind tasting,” Welker says. “The judges know the food item but not which chef or restaurant it came from.”

The chefs are chosen by reputation and availability.

“I chose Michelle this year because I had visited her food trucks and knew she was incredibly talented,” Welker says. “Michelle is such a bright light in our Wilmington food community. She has done so much to help elevate the food truck scene and represents a strong female leader.”

This year’s chef lineup includes:

Ryan Andress, UNCW Catering; Marc Berruet, Sweet Bay Catering; Sam Cahoon, Savorez; Brett Chamberlain and Richard Strahley, Cape Fear Seafood Company; Justin Deck, Chopt Creative Salad Co.; Christi Ferretti, Pine Valley Market; Joseph Heskin, Grand Cru Food & Wine; Daniel Hlusak, Floriana; Samuel Lawler, Catering Thyme at Beau Rivage; Massimo Mannino, Nino’s Cucina Italiana; Jack Marinich, Nothing Bundt Cakes; Joel Marinucci, Bill’s Front Porch; Sokun Slama, The Chef & The Frog; Andrew Stanley, Waterman’s Brewing Company; Chris Williamson, Slainte.

Wish Upon a Chef

January 30 | 6-10 p.m.

UNCW Burney Center, Price Drive, Wilmington

TICKETS: $100 individual, $250 patron sponsor, and group packages


To view more of photographer Terah Wilson’s work, go to

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Categories: Taste