It’s Battle Olde Mecklenberg Brewery Copper Amber Ale with Chef Brian Mottola, e2 Emeril’s Eatery VS Charlotte Chef Jon Fortes, Mimosa Grill, Charlotte. Chef Jon Fortes taps the win and pours on into the semi finals!

team e2 Emerils Eaters with chefs

Team e2 Emerils Eaters with chefs Michael Quetti, Chris Langdon and Brian Mottola

Team Mimosa Grill with Chefs

Team Mimosa Grill with Chefs, from left, Jon Fortes, Thomas Marlow and DJ Ivey

It was bound to happen…with so much local beer in the Carolinas it was just a matter of time before beer was the secret ingredient for Competition Dining’s Fire in the City.

On Monday Oct 7, 2013, the third battle of the quarter finals, things were indeed brewing at Bonterra Dining & wine room for Battle Olde Mecklenberg Brewery Copper Amber Ale with two talented chefs at the helm – Chef Brian Mottola and his team from e2 Emeril’s Eatery and Chef Jon Fortes and his team from Mimosa Grill –  two of uptown Charlotte’s best places to dine.

OMB Copper - the secret ingredient for Battle 13 of Fire in the City

OMB Copper – the secret ingredient for Battle 13 of Fire in the City

When I met with all six chefs around noon this day, they had checked out the Mobile Pantry fully stocked for the competition by title sponsors Pate Dawson/Southern Foods, but they had no idea what the secret ingredient might be.

“It’s easier not to think about it so much,” said Chef Thomas Marlow from team Mimosa Grill. ” if you have a plan for what you think it might be, when you find out what is really is, you just have to rethink it all over again.”

When pressed to guess, these chefs though it might be local honey and /or eggs; but I don’t think any of them ever suspected beer. They were dumbfounded for just a moment when Chef Ref Lawrence Willard made the big reveal. Each team had 7 growlers – or 7 (74 oz) glass jugs- of Olde Mecklenberg Brewery’s Copper Amber Ale with which to cook for nearly 130 dinner guests.

If you are doing the math – that’s 780 plates in all – 390 for each team… and all of them had to incorporate the taste and the nuances of OMB’s Copper.

A Taste of the action on the line during service

A Taste of the action on the line during service

While that’s a bunch of people to serve and while each team is responsible for three of the six plates, one of the truly wonderful things about Competition  Dining is the camaraderie the chefs find in the kitchen. It goes without saying that everyone wants to win – but each night after the food and the flavor, its about getting it all out to the guests so the chefs work together on the line to help each other plate.

Chef Ref Lawrence Willard sets the Copper on tap at the Bonterra Bar

Chef Ref Lawrence Willard sets the Copper on tap at the Bonterra Bar

If you could take a look in the kitchen at any given time during service, you wouldn’t know which chef’s plates were going out because its a team effort to make it all work – all under the guidance of two of the most stand up guys I have ever had the pleasure of meeting – Pate Dawson-Southern Foods’ & Competition Dining’s  Chef Refs: Chef Lawrence Willard and Chef Billy Seale. These dinners simply wouldn’t work without them.

A toast to the beverage good for what "ales" you

A toast to the beverage good for what “ales” you

This night My biggest worry was that this dinner might not work for me – You see, for this food  and blog writer, this particular ingredient was a bit of a challenge. Before this night I was not a beer drinker. I love the way all beer smells, and I’ve tasted and tasted and tried and tried to like it,  but when it comes to drinking, it is never been my beverage of choice.

Heidi and the beer guys - from left - With Daniel Hartis, Cam Heiliger, Heidi Billotto and Matt McKenzie

Heidi and the beer guys – from left – With Beer Blogger, Daniel Hartis, OMB’s own Cam Heiliger, Heidi Billotto and Beer columnist, Matt McKenzie

That said I’m a team player and I knew that  OMB’s Cooper has a lot of culinary nuances so I jumped in with both feet anxious to learn of the possibilities. As my luck would have it  the  Competition Dining powers that be sat me at a table with all the “beer guys” so I could learn first hand from the experts. It was delightful company  and delicious fare, leaving me at  dinner’s end, not older “Bud-wiser”  on the nuances of local beer.

In case you are wondering what makes this particular ingredient so special, OMB Copper is an authentic Düsseldorf style “Altbier.” Alt (pronounced ‘Aahlt’) literally means “old” in German, as in “old school.” In other words, it’s beer the old fashioned way with just four ingredients – water, yeast, hops and time.

The result in Copper, OMB’s flagship brew is a “lagered ale” that beer lovers describe as amazingly satisfying. For me it was not so hoppy – which was a good thing and I must say, it paired better with the food this night than did wine or any other beverage.

So beer or not, as is the case in each Competition Dining meal, the test is to make the most of the flavor of the secret ingredient and it was the collective opinion of all in attendance this night that  e2’s Brian Mottola and Mimosa Grill’s Jon Fortes served this secret ingredient well.

Here’s what was on tap:

Course One from Chef Brian Mottola

Course One from Chef Brian Mottola

Course 1 from Chef Mottola and the e2 team, was I thought, amazing; problem was while it tasted good with the beer,  it didn’t taste much like the beer. On the center of the plate a crispy Bacon Torchon with a side of OMB Copper Amber Ale Braised Broccolini and deliciously sweet – almost too sweet – Caramel Apples

Course two from team Mimosa ad Chef Jon Fortes

Course two from team Mimosa ad Chef Jon Fortes

Beer novice that I am, I honestly didn’t realize that Course 1 was lacking any beer flavor until I tasted Course 2 from Chef Fortes. The Beer Cheese,  the Beer Battered Broccolini, and the Beer Peppers, in particular all hinted of OMB’s Copper and tossed together with sweet Little River Lump Crab and a light OMB Copper Amber Ale Vinaigrette it worked and scored team Mimosa some high points.

Course Three from Chef Brian Mottola

Course Three from Chef Brian Mottola

Course 3 came from Chef Mottola who had me at the quail. It was a delicious plate and the maple “sting” was killer. good
Manchester Farms Crispy Quail with Parsnip Puree
Maple “Sting” OMB Copper Glaze and a  Sage-Citrus Gremolata

Course Four from Chef Jon Fortes

Course Four from Chef Jon Fortes

Course 4 was described by guest Pro judge OMB’s Cam Heiliger as “brilliant”  and the other Pro judges at my table agreed. The pairing of barley in a risotto made with beer was perfect and garnered this dish high scores. It was OMB Copper Glazed “Naked Bird” Chicken Roulade stuffed with
Cheshire Pork atop a bed of  Beer & Barley Risotto with a
Crispy Chicken and  Celery & Apple Slaw finish on top. Delish!

Course Five by Chef Brian Mottola

Course Five by Chef Brian Mottola

Beer for dessert? With a bit of out of the box thinking from these talented chefs but, of course… 

Course 5 was from team e2 and chef Mottola – a OMB Copper Amber Ale Ice Cream, with a crispy edged Brown Butter Sponge Cake
Under is all was a square of OMB Copper Chocolate Fudge,  finished with what I thought was a clever Porcini mushroom Streusel

Course six from team Mimosa Grill

Course six from team Mimosa Grill

Then came Course 6  and what might have been a close match was about to change. Mimosa Grill’s Chef DJ Ivey’s conception of an OMB Dessert Trio simply knocked people’s socks off – the trio consisted of  a delicious Orange Scented OMB Copper Crackle Bar; a tasty OMB Copper Ice Cream Sandwich with Beer Ganache ( oh my!) and a demi tasse sized OMB Copper Ice Cream Float, yes that’s beer with ice cream on top – a new way to eat your beer and drink it too! Ales well that ends well !

Competition Dining host Jimmy Crippens interviews Chef Jon Fortes at the dinner's end

Competition Dining host Jimmy Crippens interviews Chef Jon Fortes at the dinner’s end

Fortes and team Mimosa stoutly defeated the competition this night and will go on to the semi finals to compete against team Passion 8 Bistro and chef Luca Annunziata on Tuesday Oct 15, 2013.

Chef Jon Fortes from Mimosa grill and Chef Brian Mottola from e2 look forward battling it out again at  Competition Dining 2014

Chef Jon Fortes from Mimosa grill and Chef Brian Mottola from e2 look forward battling it out again at Competition Dining 2014

Congrats to all the chefs – it was an incredible dinner and I know we will see all of you back in the competition at next year’s Fire in the City!

Meanwhile, for more information on Mimosa Grill located at 327 S Tryon St, Charlotte, NC 28202; 704.343.0700, visit www.harpersgroup.com/mimosa.asp

For more information on e2 Emerils Eatery located at 135 Levine Avenue of the Arts #100, Charlotte, NC 28202; 704.414.4787, visit www.e2emerils.com

For more information on Olde Mecklenburg Brewery, visit www.oldemeckbrew.com

One thought on “It’s Battle Olde Mecklenberg Brewery Copper Amber Ale with Chef Brian Mottola, e2 Emeril’s Eatery VS Charlotte Chef Jon Fortes, Mimosa Grill, Charlotte. Chef Jon Fortes taps the win and pours on into the semi finals!

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