It’s a challenge worth all of our efforts, the challenge to end hunger. For the 17th year in a row, Bay Area Food Bank’s Chef Challenge strives to reach that goal again as local chefs come together to crank out amazing dishes at the Alabama Cruise Terminal Thursday, Sept. 3, at 6 p.m.

Guests of the three-hour event will be treated to samplings from Bake My Day, Baumhower’s, Boudreaux’s Cajun Grill, Cakes by Judi, Cammie’s Old Dutch, Felix’s Fish Camp, Greer’s Catering, Kitchen on George, Naman’s Catering, Stevie’s Kitchen, The Salvation Army, Tyner’s Catering, Von’s Bistro, Wintzell’s, Wolf Bay Lodge, Zea’s and Liquid Lounge/OK Bicycle Shop.

Live music will be provided by Roman Street. There will also be a silent auction and complimentary beer, wine and spirits. Tickets are $60 and may be purchased at www.bayareafoodbank.org.

Whole Foods teases opening date
Folks are ravenous for the next step in high-end grocery stores to open its doors in the Pinebrook Shopping Center at the corner of McGregor Street and Airport Boulevard. Whole Foods, which rose from humble beginnings in 1980 Austin, Texas, has reached powerhouse status in the supermarket world, known for its attention to natural and organic foods.

With an opening date approaching, Whole Foods has announced the need to fill positions for experienced cooks as part of its food production team. This is a sign they’re getting closer to opening the doors.

A recent Facebook post revealed a shot of a computer screen bearing a document that read “Whole Foods Markets announces opening date for Mobile” with a caption over the post saying, “Guess what we’ve been working on today?” Enough with the teasing, already. Surely the announcement will be released within the week. We’ll let you know as soon as we hear the details.

Fresh Market holds grand reopening after renovations
Perhaps Fresh Market is feeling the crunch of an impending opening of Whole Foods, but they say competition is good, right? This past weekend was the grand reopening of Fresh Market on Airport Boulevard, solidifying its reputation as one of the Mobile grocery stores you still want to pay attention to.

The remodeled store has increased its produce section, added a hot pizza bar, a soup and salad bar, and many grab-n-go items from the deli. The new layout and amenities are sure to make your shopping experience more convenient. Fresh Market still has an amazing beer selection and the wine ain’t too shabby either. Be sure to grab some coffee from the Fairhope Roasting Company the next time you stop by.

Whistle Stop runs out of steam
It really sneaked under my radar until a reader emailed me asking if the Whistle Stop on Florida Street has closed. First there was a sign on the door that read “Temporarily Closed,” then another that simply read “Closed.” Social media posts have confirmed that after 17 years of service and one of the last places in Mobile to get a good “normal” breakfast since the Tiny Diny bit the dust, the Whistle Stop has shut its doors for good.

Often overlooked as part of Mobile’s cuisine scene, this café would at times be one of the better places to eat in this town. It will be missed, as another Midtown train leaves the station.

Briquettes to open second location
If you happen to be a fan of amazing steaks and char-grilled oysters cooked over pecan and red oak briquettes, then hopefully you have visited Briquettes on Schillinger Road. The sides are amazing and the steaks begin at the affordable top sirloin and do not stop until the almighty porterhouse. I’m partial to the rib-eye.

Those of us who aren’t fans of driving that far into West Mobile can rejoice that Briquettes is opening a second location a little closer to town: 901 Montlimar Drive is the future home of Briquettes II. You may recognize it as the former Outback Steakhouse. A social media post conservatively predicted it would be open by the first of the year, but a spokesperson told me via telephone they hope to be in the new digs by early November.

Until then you may grab some meat of your choice at the original location, 720 Schillinger Road. Check for specials on Facebook as they constantly have something going on. An example would be the “Two for Tuesday” where a pair of diners may share an appetizer or dessert with a choice of two entrees from a chef’s special menu for $29.99.

Oyster Fest brings local and regional talent
Last issue we told you about the Hangout’s Oyster Fest coming up Nov. 6 and 7. Sure, it’s loaded with celebrity chefs from Food Network and James Beard Award winning restaurants. But every now and again it’s the lesser-known chefs that bring the good stuff to the table. This year’s Oyster Fest is ripe with that kind of talent.

Saturday, Nov. 7, we’ll be treated to samplings from so many great chefs I’ve read about and some I’ve even tried. It’s time we get excited about seeing 2014 James Beard Best Chef Midwest finalist Kevin Nashan of Sidney Street Café in St. Louis, Missouri. Matt Bolus comes from 404 Kitchen in Nashville, Tennessee, which was a 2014 James Beard New Restaurant South semifinalist. Four-time James Beard Best Chef South semifinalist Greg Baker represents The Refinery in Tampa, Florida. Another four-time James Beard Best Chef South semifinalist, Derek Emerson of Walker’s Drive-In in Jackson, Mississippi, will be one to watch. Author of “Crabs and Oysters,” James Beard America’s Classic winner Bill Smith hails from Crook’s Corner in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Chris Kelly and Chris Sherrill of the Flora-Bama will be after the prize as Kelly was the 2014 Oyster Fest Winner. Other Alabama-based chefs include Brody Olive, Eddie Spence, Matthew Pugh and Tres Jackson.

Keep an eye out for these dangerous competitors.

Until then, recycle!