I'll Bite

Hospital chef wins N.C. dining competition

Ryan Conklin of Rex Healthcare won the N.C. Competition Dining series.
Ryan Conklin of Rex Healthcare won the N.C. Competition Dining series.

Hospital food, lift up your head and be proud. Ryan Conklin, a hospital chef in Raleigh, bested chefs from all over the state Saturday night, to take the Competition Dining finale.

Two Charlotte chefs had made it to Battle of the Champions, the final rounds of the competition series that makes its way around the state. Joseph Cornett of the Flipside Cafe in Fort Mill got knocked out on the first night. Brent Martin of the Summit Room in Dilworth stayed in until the final round Saturday night, but ultimately fell to Conklin.

Competition Dining’s setup include mystery ingredients with N.C. connections, and voting that allows diners to score each round. At Saturday night’s sold-out final round in Raleigh, the featured ingrediens were Jarrett Bay oysters and Outer Banks sea salt. The highest scoring dish of the night was from Conklin: Cornmeal fried oyster, slow-roasted tomatoes, rosemary chimichurri, pan-fried N.C. group, cauliflower puree, sea salt, black truffle, and sorrel and langoustine salad.

Martin’s score: 27.088. Conklin’s: 29.694.

Conklin is the executive chef of the 660-bed Rex Hospital in Raleigh. In an interview with Modern Healthcare in March, when he entered the competition, he admitted that part of his goal in entering the competition is to raise the expectations for hospital food.

“How special would it be if a hospital chef won this competition?”

Kathleen Purvis: 704-358-5236, @kathleenpurvis