Helen Schwab

New round of N.C. chef contest begins, with 24 Charlotteans

The “Got to Be NC Competition Dining Series,” pitting chefs across the state in a series of head-to-head competitions, starts a new round March 22 in Charlotte. This year, there’ll be a dual bracket for Charlotte-competition chefs, with 24 competing. (The group includes a few chefs from other places, such as Joy Bistro in Boone and King James Public House in Asheville.)

Last year, the competition components were called “Fire in the City” (Charlotte), “Fire in the Triangle” (Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill), etc., but the emphasis of N.C.-grown ingredients was there; this just simplifies a bit.

In all, 22 single-elimination battles (each chef team cooking three courses, each centering on a surprise N.C. ingredient) will result in two winners, by mid-May, with both advancing to compete against the other two winners, from competitions in the Raleigh area and that of Winston-Salem. Diners who attend get a full-service, six-course meal (all Charlotte events are at Bonterra in Dilworth) and take part in voting; tickets ($55-$75) are at www.competitiondining.com/events/city.

Chefs were assigned to brackets randomly. Eight who competed last year receive a bye and advance to the second round. Here’s the lineup:

Bracket One

March 22: Miles Payne of littleSpoon vs. Ryan Forte of Southminster (retirement complex, not restaurant).

March 23: Paul Verica of Heritage Food & Drink vs. Vincent Giancarlo of Cantina 1511

March 23: Thomas Marlow of Mimosa Grill vs. Ben Miles of BLT Steak

March 29: Joseph Cornett of The Flipside Café vs. Jon Ernst of Café Monte

The four chefs receiving a bye in the bracket are Tom Dyrness of Mama Ricotta’s (advancing to the April 12 dinner), Steven Goff of Asheville’s King James Public House (April 13), David Moore of Gallery (April 14) and Chris Coleman of The Asbury at the Dunhill (April 19).

Bracket Two

March 30: Mike Suppa of Vivace vs. Melissa Joy Claude of Joy Bistro (in Boone)

March 31: Aaron Rivera of Tapas 51 (going into the former Passion8 in Fort Mill) vs. Neil Bratton of Local Dish

April 6: John S. Morey of Bank of America Stadium vs. versus Brady Lutz of The Cypress Club & The Copper Grille

April 7: Ryan Daugherty of Dogwood Southern Table & Bar vs. Travis Garrett of The Mandrake

The four chefs receiving a bye are Clark Barlowe of Heirloom (April 20), Ben Philpott of Block & Grinder (April 21), Brent Martin of The Summit Room (April 27) and Michael Fisera of Lexington Avenue Brewery (April 28).

Each Charlotte winner and the ones from Raleigh and Winston-Salem get $2,000, a handmade chef knife by Ironman Forge and a red chef jacket. The four winners will compete against each other to arrive at one victor (dates TBA).

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