It was another fabulous evening of Competition Dining last night, Wednesday Sept 4, at the Bonterra Dining & Wine Room in Charlotte’s historic Dilworth neighborhood, with two very talented chefs and their culinary teams battling it out head to head, spoon to spoon.. It was Battle Uncle Scott’s Root Beer with Chef David Lucarelli from The Cowfish vs Chef David Moore from Gallery Restaurant at Ballantyne.
As is the case with each of the Competition Dining dinners, the evening started with a selection of wines from Juice Wine Purveyors and local beers from Charlotte’s own Triple C Brewing at the Bonterra bar. At each dinner Juice offers a four different wines by the glass and 4 wines by the bottle, each specially selected for each dinner thru the series; while the beer guys at Triple C offer a trio of local beers each night this week. Guests may also order anything from the Bonterra bar or award winning wine list.
While the action in the kitchen had been going on all day – it was around 7 pm that guests were seated and the game of Competition Dining was ready to begin. As creator Jimmy Crippen likes to say at the start of each dinner, “The sun is setting, its time to light the fire!”
This second fire of the Fire in the City series was a tremendous battle between two very talented chefs and their culinary teams. Each took a different approach, but both thought the Uncle Scott’s Root Beer was a difficult product with which to work.
“The flavor profile was a challenging one, and it first it through us for a loop” noted Chef Lucarelli from The Cowfish. “With all of its aromatic flavors it was a hard product to find ways to incorporate into a trio of dishes.”
Chef Moore agreed taking the approach to bring out some of those unique flavors and highlight them using the variety of proteins and produce available to both chefs from the Competition Dining mobile pantry.
After 6 1/2 hours of fast and furious prep time and menu planning, the dinner that insued was delicious. While the diners each evening do know what the secret ingredient is before they start eating, they don’t know which chef prepared each plate and so they vote blind on taste, aroma, texture and the best use and flavor of the secret ingredient.
The first plate of the night was as it turned out from Chef Lucarelli and the Cowfish team – Grilled NC Shrimp, Asian Pear, Jicama Salad, Piperade & Uncle Scott’s Root Beer Balsamic Gastrique .
The shrimp on this plate were perfectly cooked and pear and jicama salad a refreshing foil to start; and Lucarelli’s piperade here was spot on.
The second plate was from Chef Moore and the team at Gallery restaurant. Toasted Uncle Scott’s Root Beer Spiced Maple Leaf Farms Duck Breast, Muscadine & Cubanelle Pepper Root Beer Aspic. As I had been in early and saw what the chefs were making, I was not voting this evening; but I will say, as I did on my Twitter feed – @HeidiCooks – last night , while I loved the tender duck on this dish -it was the root beer aspic that totally blew me away and the crunchy toasty bits of root beer – amazing!
Just a touch of these two intensely flavored items rested on top of the duck, but the flavor was deep, warm and rich – this plate was perhaps my personal favorite of the night.
The third plate of the evening was again from Chef Lucarelli and interestingly featured tasty tender duck as well – Uncle Scott’s Duck, Root Beer Glazed Maple Leaf Farms Duck Breast, Sweet Potato Quinoa Risotto, Fried Leek, Tart Cherry Demi.
The fourth plate of the dinner was from Chef Moore and the Gallery Restaurant team. Black Garlic Root Beer Confit Cheshire Pork Belly, Uncle Scott’s Root Beer Braised Yucca Root, Ashe County Redneck Romano Galette, Root Beer, Caramelized Pink Lady Apple & Shallot Jam
It was an excellent plate, but funny to say, what I personally like the best on this plate didn’t have anything to do with the root beer – it was the small crunchy cheese galette that caught my eye and my tastebuds.
From Chef David Lucarelli, the 5th plate – a melt in your mouth bowl of Fig and Goat Cheese Homemade Ice Cream, Fried Wontons, Uncle Scott’s Root Beer Syrup. Ice cream for 100 guests, all served at the same time is an ambitious endeavor to say the least, but The Cowfish team pulled it off with scrumptious results.
The sixth plate, a dessert from Chef David Moore – Uncle Scott’s Root Beer Ganache, Mousse & Glacè, Root Cherry Marmalade. This plate was a sophisticated presentation of flavors that each played one off the other for a perfect finish.
In the end, after votes were locked in and tallied, it was Chef David Moore and his team from the Gallery Restaurant at Ballantyne who took the win.
David and his team will go on the battle again in the semi final round against Chef Phil Barnes and his team from Rooster’s in the first round of Fire in the City semi finals on Sept 30 – get your tickets now; they will sell out fast!
For more information on The Cowfish Sushi Burger Bar visit – www.Thecowfish.com
For more information on Gallery Restaurant at Ballantyne Resort visit – www.gallery-restaurant.com
For more information on Uncle Scott’s All Natural Root Beer visit – http://unclescottsrootbeer.com