Essays on People's Platelist Finalists

I live near Rockford, Illinois where there is every chain of restaurant available along with some nice local places, but we have never had anything that compares to Ron's near us. It is well worth the drive for something this special. I am proud to nominate them and believe they need to be seriously in the running.

POLLYANN MITCHELL, Café Royale, Pell City/Talladega, Ala.

I would like to nominate PollyAnn Mitchell. Polly lives in Pell City Alabama. She started a Gift Basket company in TN, but sold it when her racing hobby took off. She raced Porsches for several years THEN decided that she was interested in. cooking. She bought Cafe Royal in Talladega and turned it into a very nice little restaurant. Then she started her catering company.

Recently she opened her second restaurant, this one in Pell City, Ala. Lunch, even the name lets you know it is different. Southern cooking is usually heavy, fried, battered and smothered in gravy. You will NOT find this in either of Polly's kitchens. Polly's cooking is fresh and healthy. This is not the norm for this area. Polly is constantly looking for new ideas for all three companies. Her specialties are salads. Her chicken and shrimp salads are fantastic and different. Please consider PollyAnn Mitchell for your Nightline Platelist chef.

RUTH ANNE REAGAN, Chez Ruth Anne, Marcellus, NY

Nestled among the rolling hills of Central New York, in the tiny hamlet of Marcellus sits a kitchen that has fed the likes of nurses, doctors, lawyers, judges, teachers, engineers, musicians, athletes, artists, politicians, civil service workers, businessmen and women, parents, children, and students for close to 60 years.

The menu is an eclectic mix of the mundane to the magnificent that includes quaint early morning breakfasts, savory breads and desserts, delectable bistro dishes, sumptuous holiday meals, and even bag lunches for the hurried traveler or weary student.

Although hours of operation of the establishment have been reduced from when I first ate there over 45 years ago, Chef Ruth Anne continues to be the master of her domain feeding anyone coming in to sit at a table, of which there are many. Despite living in Washington, DC, my wife, daughter, and I travel to Marcellus at least twice a year to experience her fine cuisine. It's not uncommon to eat alongside a family member while there – making the 300-plus mile journey more the worthwhile. To this day, Chef Ruth Anne's most celebrated dishes continue to be grilled barbecue chicken in a zesty oil, vinegar and sage marinade, Irish stew boasting flaky chunks of perfectly seasoned roast beef perched among colorful garden fresh vegetables served over warm biscuits, creamy potato and leek soup, delightfully crusted scalloped oysters, tangy macaroni and cheese, and exceptional spaghetti sauce with a hint of sugar.

BUD ROYER, Royer's Round Top Café, Round Top, Texas

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