Fried veggies take over the tournament

Appetizers are no small thing in this year’s Tournament of Food – and the trends is clear: Vegetables. Fried.

Winning the North bracket in a hard-fought battle are Greg’s Pickles from Pinky’s, topping Mimosa Grill’s seafood-stuffed hush puppies in a messy, finger-licking fight.

In the East (ironically, since they’re in Shelby), Ni Fen’s pork potstickers are the exception that proves the rule: not vegetable, not breaded and a crowd-backed victor over Midwood Smokehouse’s bacon-wrapped jalapenos, which sported bacon a little too floppy to triumph.

The Western winner is the impossibly crisp zucchini chips from Nolen Kitchen, edging 131 Main’s duo of pimento cheese and guacamole by the impossibly thin width of, say, a zucchini chip.

And topping the South handily are Crepe Cellar’s bizarre little Brussels sprouts, who completed a Bacon Beatdown by defeating the bacon-wrapped tot duo from Fran’s Filling Station.

Tune in next week for the semifinalists and champion, determined by a tasting panel that will head out to assess the four this week.

Related stories from Charlotte Observer