Jun 22, 2016 • By

From busing tables to winning big

When Christina Halstead started working at the Café @ Williams Hardware in Travelers Rest, South Carolina, she was busing tables one night a week.

Today she’s the restaurant’s executive chef. And the Grand Prize Winner of the 2016 Neighborhood to Nation Recipe Contest from General Mills Foodservice, announced at our headquarters this afternoon.

While Halstead knew she’d have tough competition in the contest, she said she felt confident her new twist on a classic recipe was grand-prize worthy.

“I knew it in my heart, I just knew it,” she says. “I’ve never had a feeling like that. I know this biscuit is amazing. It has it all.”

We talked to Halstead, just after she found out she won. (Video link)

Her “BLT on Pimento Cheese Buttermilk Biscuit with Red Pepper Jelly” recipe is one of the specialty dishes she serves at the Café @ Williams Hardware.


It includes buttermilk biscuit with the perfect amount of pimento and cheese plus arugula, thick-cut bacon and a homegrown tomato — all topped with red pepper jelly.

Halstead’s winning recipe beat out Dan Duris’ breakfast recipe and Nancy Butcher’s dessert recipe.

Duris of Gypsy Café in Lincoln, New Hampshire, won first place and $15,000 for his recipe for “Waffled Salmon with Spicy Orange Maple Sauce.”

Second place and $10,000 went to Butcher, of Nutcracker 50’s Family Restaurant in Pataskala, Ohio, for her “Chocolate Snickers Candy Bar Cookie Pie.”


Halstead earned a $40,000 check from General Mills Foodservice (plus $10,000 for a charity of her choice).

She told us the charity donation will go to Foothills Family Resources in Slater, South Carolina.


“This is an amazing opportunity for the town. To be able to bring this back, my whole community is just freaking out. They’re so happy,” says Halstead.

Celebrity Chef Amanda Freitag, of Food Network’s “Chopped” and “American Diner Revival,” made the announcement today, where the top three winners in the recipe contest gathered for a full day of festivities to celebrate their award-winning dishes.


The day’s events included the winners sharing samples of their recipes with employees as well as a Q&A and cookbook signing with Freitag.


The Neighborhood to Nation Recipe Contest celebrates independent family or neighborhood restaurants from around the U.S. and their one-of-a-kind dishes that reflect their local flavor.

Foodservice operators, chefs and line cooks submitted their favorite original breakfast, entrée or dessert recipes using at least one ingredient from General Mills’ list of eligible products.

For more information on Neighborhood to Nation, and the finalists, visit

You can learn more about General Mills Convenience & Foodservice at

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