Thursday, March 16, 2017

Meet Samoa Soiree Judge: Xerxes Nabong

When it comes to finding the highly-recommended restaurants and businesses, many people turn to Yelp, an online community where users can write reviews, post photos, find events and more. Xerxes Nabong is the Community Manager behind Yelp Hampton Roads. He has weighed in on more than 1,000 restaurants and businesses since he joined Yelp in 2011, posting reviews about the good, the bad and the ugly. He also organizes parties and get-togethers for top Yelpers in the region, oversees a weekly enewsletter, hits the streets to attend festivals and events and, most importantly, spreads the word about Yelp.

This month, Nabong is taking on one of his tastiest challenges yet—he is serving on the judging panel at Samoa Soiree, an event hosted by Girl Scouts of the Colonial Coast where local chefs make a sweet or savory dish using a Girl Scout Cookie as the key ingredient.

Xerxes receiving a plaque for Yelp's sponsorship of
the 2015 Samoa Soiree.
After attending Samoa Soiree for the past for years as a guest and sponsor, Nabong is looking forward to putting in his two-cents as a judge. He enjoys trying new foods, never knowing quite what to expect. For Nabong, it is all about that anticipation and excitement.

Although each dish at Samoa Soiree is made with at least one type of Girl Scout Cookie, among the desserts are plenty of savory dishes, which Nabong tends to prefer. He says that he can always go for a steak, and chicken wings are a close second. But, that does not mean that he hasn’t ever made a big dent in a batch of chocolate chip cookies.

Samoa Soiree isn't the only way that Xerxes
supports Girl Scouts. In 2015, he joined the
organization as part of the Man Enough to
 Be a Girl Scout campaign.
“I do recall a cheesecake that I couldn’t help but get seconds, okay thirds, of a couple of years ago at Samoa Soiree,” Nabong said.

Before the big night, March 25, Nabong offers a bit of advice to this year’s competing chefs. He says that he appreciates dishes that are simple. He’s looking for something that anyone could make, but the chefs have executed perfectly and presented the cookie in an unexpected way.

“Sure, the stylish, fancy ones are nice to enjoy, but when simple dishes get a little pizazz added to them, it gives us regular folks some hope of throwing our own creativity into some of the simplest things,” Nabong said.

And, one other word of advice to the chefs—Thin Mints are Nabong’s favorite Girl Scout Cookie.

Samoa Soiree will take place on Saturday, March 25 from 6 to 10 p.m. at the Half Moone Cruise and Celebration Center in Norfolk. Great food and drinks, along with live music and a silent auction—all for a great cause. Tickets are $75 each and can be purchased at