First Taste of Spring at The SavorNC Cooking Stage

4452defe-d5bd-4fc1-9cc8-2289ed2d4211Tomorrow Friday Feb 23, 2017 marks the first day of all the food flavor and fun at the SavorNC Cooking Stage at the Southern Spring Home & Garden Show at the Park Expo in Charlotte NC. The show runs for 6 full days – this weekend of Feb 23-26 and then again the weekend of March 3-5. Attendance at the SavorNc Cooking Stage is free with your ticket to the show and we will be located right by the show entrance, so you can’t miss us!

 

savorncI happily play the part of host of the cooking stage and have invited over 40 restaurant chefs, private chefs, caterers, farmers and other food-centric folk to be on stage with me cooking with tons of local produce, proteins and products.  The North Carolina Department of Agriculture has come on as the title sponsor of the stage, so we are the SavorNC Cooking Stage and each day we have a different local day sponsor involved in all the action.

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The cooking demos each day start at 10:30 am and run every hour on the half hour. Chefs will be cooking, sharing technique, tips about buying local and handing out complimentary samples at each and every demonstration.

At the end of each demo, we’ll ask a couple of fun trivia questions pertaining to what each chef said, and where ingredients might have come from and the winners will get great prizes which will include gift  bags of swag from the NC Department of Agriculture, gift certificates from the participating restaurants and special samples and or coupons from our day sponsors.

Recipes from each day of demos and a photo recap of the day will be posted on these blog pages each evening of the show, so stay tuned for the word on lots of local eats and how to make them in your kitchen over the next ten days. Consider these two weekends a first taste of Spring with all the wonderful local ingredients this, my favorite season of the year, brings.

Here is the line up of chefs for each day  and a little bit about our GotToBeNC Day Sponsors for this first weekend of the 2017 Southern Spring Show… Look for a similar article next week on the line up of all the action for the March 3-5 weekend or check here for a link to the complete list of participating chefs

img_7229Goodnight Brothers Country Ham from Boone North Carolina kicks off our list of day sponsors this year on Friday February 24, 2017. Throughout the day chefs will be hamming it up with Goodnight’s all natural line of thin sliced dry cured ham (I like to call it North Carolina’s answer to  Italian prosciutto) as well as Goodnight’s classic Country Ham. Goodnight Brothers has sent me two HUGE boxes of  sample sized packages of ham to hand out to the crowd and at 12:30 I will be on stage with Bill Goodnight of Goodnight Brothers, cooking with both varieties of this locally cured ham and talking about the history of this family owned company and how they do what they do.  if you have ever eaten a ham biscuit at Bojangles, then you know how wonderful Goodnight Brothers Ham really is – take this opportunity to come to the Spring Show on Friday, to try, taste and learn more about it.

Cooking onstage with me Friday February 24, 2017 –

10:30 am
Springtime Favorites

Chef Blake Hartwick, Bonterra Dining & Wine Room

11:30 am
WCCB Everyday Eats Hamming It Up

Chef Troy Gagliardo
WCCB Charlotte

12:30 pm
Cooking with Goodnight Brothers Country Ham
Cooking Stage Host Charlotte Culinary Expert, Heidi Billotto and Bill Goodnight from Goodnight Brothers Country Ham

1:30 pm
The Sweet & Savory Sides of Eating Local
Chef Paul Verica and Chef Ashley Boyd, Heritage Food Drink, Waxhaw NC

2:30 pm
It’s Cookin’ at The Cowfish

Chef David Lucarelli, The Cowfish Sushi & Burger Bar

3:30 pm
Charcuterie and Cooking with Beer 

Chef Terra Ciotta and Chef Philip Lloyd, The Art Institute

4:30 pm
Dinner from the Springtime Garden

Chef Michael Rayfield, U.S. National Whitewater Center

5:30 pm
Gluten Free Vegan and Vegetarian

Chef Beverly McLaughlin, Beverly’s Gourmet Foods

img_7234On Saturday February 25, 2017 Parla Pasta from High Point North Carolina is our day sponsor and you won’t believe all the delicious Pastabilities we’ll have on hand. Simone Drake from Parla’s parent company Drake’s Pasta will be with us all day and is bringing a wonderful pasta salad for show goers to snack on between demos as well as plenty of coupons to hand out, so everyone can go and buy their favorite variety of Parla Pasta from their grocer’s freezer case after begin inspired by the culinary action onstage. Again, chefs will be cooking with the different varieties of Parla Pasta throughout the day and at 12:30 Simone and I will take the stage together to cook and talk pasta. Parla Pasta is available at grocery stores across Charlotte – find it in the freezer section at your favorite locations of Harris Teeter, The Fresh Market, Publix, Ingles, and Lowes Foods.

And here is who will be cooking onstage with me for Saturday February 25, 2017:

10:30 am
Little Plates, Big Flavor with Stoke Restaurant’s infamous Pork Ragu

Chef Chris Coleman, Stoke at the Marriott

11:30 am
Sweet Springtime Dreams

Chef Ashley Boyd and Chef Miranda Brown, 300 East

12:30 pm
Ah, The Parla Pastabilities

Cooking Stage Host Charlotte Culinary Expert, Heidi Billotto with SImone Drake of Parla Post

1:30 pm
It’s Got to Be NC!

Clark Barlow, Heirloom Restaurant

2:30 pm
Kale Yeah!

Heidi Billotto cooks with the Greens that Grow at Tega Hill Farms

3:30 pm
Entertaining on the Fly: From Zero to Party in under and Hour
Susan Murray Innkeeper and Cookbook Author, Carolina B&B, Asheville

4:30 pm
Pasta and Prosciutto with Springtime Style
Chef George DiPaolo from the Community Culinary School of Charlotte

5:30 pm
Risotto From the Springtime Garden
Chef Geoff Bragg from the Community Culinary School of Charlotte

cloister-honeyOn Sunday February 26, 2017, our friends Randall York and Joanne di la Rionda from Cloister Honey are in the house with their entire line of sweet and savory locally raised honey. Cloister Honey will be available to sample and purchase throughout the day right at the cooking stage. Many chefs will be incorporating the line of Cloister Honey into their recipes and  in the 12:30 time slot this day, I’ll be cooking with Cloister and Randall and Joanne will join me onstage to talk about raising bees, how they came to build a hobby into a company and we might even get  Joanne to share her secrets ( well some of them) on how she develops her delicious honey blends and flavor infused varieties. Cloister will be giving away samples as a part of each prize package during each of the chefs demos throughout the day  – its going to be a sweet way to wind up this first weekend of fun and local flavor on the SavorNC Cooking Stage at the Southern Spring Home & Garden Show.

On the SavorNC Cooking Stage Sunday, February 26, 2017:  

10:30 am
Sunday Brunch Fresh from the Farm

Chef Kevin Woods cooks with  Two Moons Family Farms

11:30 am
The Art of Japanese Cuisine From Yama, Yama Izakaya and Baku Restaurants

Chef and Sake Specialist Birdie Yang

12:30 pm
Catch the Buzz – Cooking with Cloister Honey

Cooking Stage Host Charlotte Culinary Expert, Heidi Billotto with Cloister’s Randall York and Joanna de la Rionda

1:30 pm
Jamie’s Favorite Top Chef Recipes

Chef Jamie Lynch of 5 Church and Top Chef Charleston contestant

2:30 pm
Donuts: Not Just for Breakfast
Courtney Buckley, Your Mom’s Donuts

3:30 pm
Wine Pairings with Local Favorites 
Josh Villapando, Assorted Table Wine Shop

So Many great local GotToBeNc products to feature on the Savor NC Cooking Stage this first weekend of the show, and so many chefs to help create the show. I’m proud to say we have a truly great line up of award winning and nationally recognized chefs here in Charlotte and our surrounding areas and  I am thrilled to promote them on the SavorNC Cooking Stage this weekend and next.

charlotte-living-winter-2017-coverIn addition to recipes and samples and all the fun you’ll have at the Savor NC Cooking Stage, remember to also pick up a copy of the new issue of Charlotte Living Magazine. That beautiful dish on the cover was prepared by Chef Thomas Marlow of Mimosa Grill in Uptown Charlotte.

As many of you know, In addition to this blog, I also am the food editor at Charlotte Living and this first issue of the year is our annual food issue. So excited to see my “100 + Restaurants Worth Your While Restaurant Guide” finally done and printed up in living color. A TEN-PAGE spread of great places to eat in Charlotte and a word or two about many chefs who make this such a wonderful food-centric city. Pick up a copy of the magazine at the SavorNC Cooking Stage and enjoy the guide, articles on Mimosa Grill in Uptown Charlotte and Highland Avenue Restaurant in Hickory as well as a piece on local Moorseville woodworker Jeffrey Mathews of Old World Moulding Company who creates incredible cutting boards for chefs around the world; and  a section on 6 ways to open a package, box, bottle or jar to Eat Local and more. Can’t wait – you can check out the Restaurant Guide and some of these other articles online at CharlotteLiving.com

 

 

 

Battle Uncle Scott’s Root Beer – Chef David Lucarelli from The Cowfish vs Chef David Moore from Gallery Restaurant at Ballantyne. Moore takes the win!

Chefs David Lucarelli and David Moore with Suzanne and Scott Ramsey makers of Uncle Scott's Rootbeer i

Chefs David Lucarelli and David Moore with Suzanne and Scott Ramsey makers of Uncle Scott’s Rootbeer in Mooresville, NC

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.

 
Each of the six courses were as beautiful to look at as they were delicious to eat. There was not a bad or misthought plate in the line up; but in the end the victorious team simply brought out  and accentuated more of the nuances and flavor of this locally brewed and bottled root beer from Mooresville NC.
 
Enjoy the selection of wines and beers from Juice Wine Purveyors and Triple C Brewing at each Fire in the City dinner.

Enjoy the selection of wines and beers from Juice Wine Purveyors and Triple C Brewing at each Fire in the City dinner.

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 Competition Dining team from The Cowfish

The Competition Dining team from The Cowfish

“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.”

David Moore and the team from Gallery Restaurant at Ballantyne Resort

David Moore and the team from Gallery Restaurant at Ballantyne Resort

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.

 
First Course from Chef David Lucarelli at The Cowfish

First Course from Chef David Lucarelli at The Cowfish

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.

 
Course 2 from Chef David Moore of Gallery Restaurant

Course 2 from Chef David Moore of Gallery Restaurant

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.

 
 
Course Three from Chef David Lucarelli

Course Three from Chef David Lucarelli

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.

On this plate the duck was glazed with a reduced rootbeer, roasted and then thin sliced and with tart cheery demi was for me a winning combination of flavor as well as a  great blend of texture and taste.
 
Course Four from Chef David Moore

Course Four from Chef David Moore

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.

 
 
As soon as I knew the secret ingredient was root beer I also knew the evening had potential for some fabulous desserts – while I at first was secretly praying for some sort of cool deconstructed rootbeer float, both chefs far surpassed my hopes and expectations.
 
Course Five from chef David Lucarelli

Course Five from chef David Lucarelli

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.

 
 
 
Course six from Chef David Moore

Course six from Chef David Moore

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.

Jimmy Cripppens interviews the battles winning team for a video to post on the Competition Dining website

Jimmy Cripppens interviews the battles winning team for a video to post on the Competition Dining website

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