|Please read my blog for a nightly recap of Fire in the Triad posts to stay in the loop. You can also follow me on twitter @niksnacks and the hashtag #CompDiningNC for live updates during each battle (dinner begins at 7pm). Please also follow Competition Dining on Facebook or the web. |
Fingers, toes, knives and forks were crossed around the Triad as the final preliminary battle between a Greensboro & Winston-Salem chef went down Tuesday night. Chef Taylor Brett of Bin 33 in Greensboro met up with Chef John Milner of Milner's in Winston-Salem. Meet both chefs below:
Chef Taylor Brett
Chef John Milner
There was electricity in the air during the first Fire in the Triad, but Tuesday night, the electricity was real and apparent. First, there were a few technical difficulties with the über-technologically advanced A/V system, but after all of that was taken care of, I noticed all of the famous faces in the room.
The night's judges were Anna Mae Hagewood of Anna Mae Southern Bread Company and Dianne Blancato of 123 Cuisine.
Every night, David Stansfield and Rick Stapleton of wholesale food distribution company Pate Dawson Foods--parent company of Southern Foods and William Mutton of Meat and Seafood Solutions, LLC grace us with their presence. The companies are responsible for providing all of the food for the competition.
Former colleagues of mine, Carla Kucinski and Carl Wilson represented sponsor Go Triad and my friend, Kristi Marion (on behalf of MyWinstonSalem.com and Forsyth Family Magazine), and Robert Johnson of Smith Street Diner joined in on the fun that is Competition Dining, as well.
After the litany of introductions, it was time to eat! The night's secret ingredient...
HEIRLOOM TOMATOES & SCUPPERNONG GRAPES
Four types of tomatoes were available to use and did you know that the scuppernong grape is North Carolina's official fruit? You learn something new every day! Now let me tell you about each course:
|Jalapeno-Citrus Carolina Shrimp, Cucumber Quick Pickle, Gold Tomato-Ginger Sorbet, Celery-Scallion Salad|
|Alderwood-Smoked Salt and Brown Sugar-Cured Pheasant Breast, Dried Fruit-Farro Salad, Scuppernong Reduction, Honey-Spiced Tomato Jam|
|Smoked, Roasted Ashley Farms Pheasant Breast, Tomato-Feta Bread Pudding, Carrot Puree, Juniper-Scuppernong Pheasant Jus|
|Tomato-Gravy Braised Leg of Lamb, Tri-Tomato Sweet Potato Old Mill of Guilford Grits, Tasso Crumble|
The best use of the secret ingredient of the night, the tomato gravy was deep, dark and flavorful but reminded me of what gourmet Campbell's Tomato Soup would taste like. The gravy dominated the dominated the plate and masked the flavor of the sweet potato flavored grits. The tasso crumble was delicious, but I wished there was just a little more of it and less gravy.
|Herb-Roasted Lamb Loin, Gold Potato-Goat Cheese Fondue, Pistachio-Mint Pesto, Tomato Tartar, Cherokee Purple Espagnole Sauce|
As we all waited for the final course, I started praying for a real, honest-to-goodness dessert and not one masked as something else. I also prayed for ice cream. One of my prayers were answered.
|Tomato-Green Onion Chevre Tart, Feta Gelato, Blackberry-Balsamic Reduction, Candied Mint|
I entered this course with trepidation. I was not in the mood for
The heirloom tomatoes nor the scuppernongs were the center of any dish this evening. It was more like dueling banjos: Who can present the better tasting dish? Neither chef pulled out bags of tricks that let the secret ingredients shine. I was surprised at the lack of creativity, but in my personal opinion--none of that mattered because we were served six solid courses.
In the end, Winston-Salem is now in the running to be considered the best in the Triad: Chef John Milner won Battle Tomato! Congratulations, Chef! I can't wait to see you in the semifinals on September 12!
Fire In The Triad Semifinal Brackets (as of 8/29/12)