As many of you know I travel with the GotToBeNC Competition Dining series organizers across the state of North Carolina – promoting chefs and their culinary prowess as they participate in dinner events set up like a live version of a mix of Chopped and Ironchef.
My job is not to cook, but instead to tell the tale of chefs and farmers, restaurants and featured products; and in addition to handle all the social media, the sponsors and relationships with our competing chefs.
I love what I do and have met some very cool people in each city, but have to say I am so happy to be in Charlotte this month as The GotToBeNC Competition Dining series kicks off a seven night series in the Queen City.
Monday Aug 8 was evening one. This first preliminary battle saw chefs Paul Verica from Heritage Food & Drink; Ashely Boyd from 300 East and Heritage Food& Drink and Joe Bonaparte from the International Culinary Institute of Myrtle Beach on Team 3 Cooks up against chefs Adam Reed from Sante of Matthews, Terra Ciotta of the Art Institute of Charlotte’s Artisan Restaurant and Jess Cochran from CPCC’s culinary school who came to play as Team Radical Range Riders.
The concept of a dream team of chefs – all from one restaurant or from three separate restaurants is new to the GotToBeNc Competition Dining Series this year and the chefs and the audience are loving the experience.
I, too, had a blast yesterday. I have had the pleasure of knowing all of these chefs for years – save for Jess who I just met the other day and am looking forward to getting to know.
Its been great watching all of them grow, hone their skills, make their marks both individually and together to help carve a place for the Charlotte culinary community in the statewide, regional and national spotlights.
Yesterday was no different and the fact that all six of these chefs were good friends with similar cooking styles, made it all the more fun from the Chefs’ Breakfast at the start of the day to the announcement of the winning team about 9:30 Monday night.
One of this year’s Competition Dining sponsors, Alsco, treats the chefs in each region across the state to a relaxing breakfast as a start to the day and in Charlotte our breakfast spot is @Dawn, located at 2130 Ayrely Town Blvd at the intersection of I-485 and South Tryon Streets, the relatively new breakfast concept brought to you by Greg and Subrina Collier of The Yolk, a great little breakfast spot in Rock Hill. After a family style meal of local eggs cooked to order, two kinds of grits, pancakes, waffles, bacon, sausage, biscuits, fresh local fruit, coffee tea and more and some fun photos the crew all headed over to Bonterra Dining & Wine Room, our home base for each of the Charlotte events.
Back at Bonterra Dining and Wine Room, located on Cleveland Ave in the Dilworth neighborhood, Competition Dining Chef Ref Chad Blackwelder from Sanford, NC, sets up a refrigerated mobile pantry, sponsored by Pate Dawson Southern Foods full of great items for the chefs to cook with and make a part of the meal. The pantry has all the basics and includes lots of North Carolina product.
In addition Chad also shops at local markets in each city so that the end result of each six course meal features a good mix of local farmers, NC Produce, product and proteins as well as a mix of other regional and seasonal items.
At the reveal each morning of competition, chefs learn of the secret ingredient they will be working with – to be featured in each of their 3 courses to make a 6 course meal. In addition, they have a group of mystery basket ingredients to choose from that they must include somewhere in the meal.
To that end, the first Charlotte preliminary dinner featured Black Mountain Chocolate cocoa nibs and Dominican Chocolate as well as several varieties of local chiles and peppers.
The chiles and peppers came almost entirely from the Matthews Community Farmers’ Market from my friends Mark and Mindy Robinson at Tega Hill Farm and from Cathy and Eric McCall at As Hot As Possible Hot Pepper Herb Farm. Poblano chiles were from Coto Farms at the Atherton Farmers market and the spicy Thai Chiles were from Ma Cha at the Charlotte Regional Farmers’ Market
From the Mystery basket selections, chefs were limited to two proteins – duck from Joe Jurgielewicz & Son – a fourth generation sustainable duck farm in Pennsylvania and one of the leading Pekin duck suppliers in North America ; and Greenbrier Farms pork, a farm I discovered and was happy to bring to the Competition Dining table and to the attention of Pate Dawson when we competed in Greenville SC last year.
Also in the Mystery Basket this first night of Charlotte competition, other local favorites from the Savory Spice Shop in Southend and from Charlotte’s own, award winning Cloister Honey. Basics in the kitchen also came from lots of local farms all of whom sell at the Charlotte Regional Farmers Market on Saturdays including watermelons, onions, and more from A Way of Life Farm; cucumbers, blackberries and more from Burton Farms; Tomatoes and Peaches from Lincoln County; Blueberries from Blackwood Berries, a farm located not far from Fayetteville, NC
These six chefs did both secret ingredients and all the mystery basket and pantry items proud in six courses that featured flavors from an rich Manchamanteles sauce served in The Radical Range Riders course 3 to a light NC Peach and Thai Chile sorbet a part of the plating for Team 3 Cooks course 6. The intriguing mix kept the crowd guessing all through the evening as to which team made which plate, but as Competition Dining host and creator Jimmy Crippen always remnds guests, it is always best not to guess who made what, but instead to simply vote your palate. For final results of this first battle and a detailed description of each plate visit the Results Page at the Competition Dining Website
In the end, it was an excited Team Radical Range Riders who took the win and will go on the compete in the Thursday August 11 semi final round.
They will go up against the winner of tonights August 9 battle which will find Team Bistro 127 from Hickory NC with chefs Shawn Bank, John Edwards and Jeff Croft all going up against Team Vicious & Delicious with chefs Ryan Forte and Phillip Platoni from Southminster in Charlotte and chef Brigitte Oger from Craft Cakes of Charlotte. Check out these pages on Wednesday Aug 10 to see the results of the Tuesday Aug 9 nite event.
As I write this Monday night recap, chefs are in the kitchen with 2 very cool secret ingredients, one a local seasonal favorite and the other one you might be surprise to find is an ingredient produced in the state of North Carolina. Here are all of the Aug 10 chefs at the
Its anyone’ game. Tonight’s preliminary battle and the August 11 semi final battle are already sold out with a waiting list, but tickets to the Aug 22 and 23 preliminary battles are still available. Treat yourself to a night of North Carolina’s favorite culinary sport and join us, if you will.
Tickets for the preliminary events are just $74.78, exclusive of beverages. Here are the direct links:
Don’t miss a single bite of the action – if you can’t make it you can follow along on all the social media – I look forward to seeing you there – Cheers!