Wednesday night brought the SIXTH preliminary Fire in the Triad dinner of the Competition Dining Series. The penultimate Greensboro Vs Winston-Salem chef battle took place between Chef Michael Harkenreader of Undercurrent in Greensboro versus Chef Janis Karathanas of Mozelle's Bistro in Winston-Salem. Meet them below:
Chef Michael Harkenreader of Undercurrent
Chef Janis Karathanas of Mozelle's Bistro
Not only was the night full of six languorous courses, it was full of firsts: Fire in the Triad's first female chef competed AND the first dinner of the competition without dessert courses! Why no dessert, you ask? The night's secret ingredient...
Provided by Carolina Bison of Asheville, the flank and ribeye were the cuts available. The flank had to be used in all 3 courses & the ribeye required only in one.
Since I am not a voting diner or judge, I went back to the kitchen before service to get a few shots in.
|Plating in the kitchen, moments before the 1st course went out to the dining room!|
I wish I hadn't because seeing the first (2nd and 3rd) course was like finding out about Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy all in one fell swoop. I quickly exited the kitchen and tried to forgot what I'd seen.
|First course: Bison Carpaccio, Rapini, Roasted Red Peppers, Sopressata, Chevre Mousse, Shallot-Pancetta Vinaigrette|
|Bison Flank Roulade, Grilled Asparagus, Green Onion, Goat Cheese, Calamata Olives, Sun-dried Tomato Tapenade, Lemon Balsamic Braised Fennel|
I complained about the 1st two courses being small, sparse or not the correct temperature but I completely forgot about all of those transgressions at this point. The next course made me want to 'slap my momma'.
|Bracioli Bison Stuffed with Panko, Chevre & Parsley, Red Gravy with Rosemary Polenta|
This was the most flavorful, aromatic, savory dish of the night, and in my opinion, the whole competition thus far. This piece of flank was expertly rolled and filled with the panko, chevre and parsley. Smothered with the red tomato gravy and garnished with a sprig of rosemary (which I munched on first--I love fresh rosemary), the bracioli (pronounced something like bra-jool-i) was so tender, every bite had me talking to myself. The polenta didn't have much rosemary flavor and the entire dish was a bit salty, but it was still the best dish of the night. Diners must have agreed with me, because they scored this dish higher than any other dish of the evening with 72.9%.
I'm not sure if you're familiar with bison, but they are large, languid, lumbering animals. At this point during the meal, I felt the same. The meat paired with my love of bread tired me. And very quickly. The diners at my table were taking bets on if we were going to have one or two dessert courses featuring bison. Three of my dining companions were the night's judges: Cecelia Thompson of Mod Meals on Mendenhall, John Batchelor, food critic of the Greensboro News & Record and Sasha Travers of Sasha Travers Public Relations in Durham, NC. Thankfully, neither chef attempted dessert, but the courses seemed to get heavier... and heavier...
|Herb Crusted Bison Ribeye, Yukon Potato-Mushroom-Bison Ragout, Smoked Corn Cream & Country Ham|
|Bison Confit with Orange Crush & Sundrop, Oyster Mushrooms, Potato Gratin, Glazed Bok Choy, Turnip & Carrot Puree|
|RC Cola Marinated Bison Flank, Molasses Stone Ground Grit Cake, Cilantro-Red Onion-Lime Relish, Smoked Chocolate Sauce|
Battle Bison's winner: Chef Harkenreader from Undercurrent! This was the tightest margin of Fire in the Triad thus far with a mere ONE point separating Chef Harkenreader from Chef Karathanas. ONE! To see a breakdown of courses and voting results, please visit Competition Dining.
Don't forget to log-on and read about the semifinal battle between Chef Hesling of Green Valley Grill and Chef Harkenreader of Undercurrent on September 12!