It's been a whirlwind of a time during the Got To Be NC Competition Dining Series. First, I want to issue words of thanks and gratitude: I feel so lucky and blessed that I was given the opportunity to cover each event and serve as Official Blogger for Fire in the Triad. I've enjoyed serving as
Crippen’s Country Inn and Restaurant in Blowing Rock, NC as a way to build business during the off season, 7 years ago. In 2012, the competition has evolved into a series across the state promoting local North Carolina ingredients, chefs, local restaurants and people.
From Blowing Rock with “Fire on the Rock,” to Wilmington with “Fire on the Dock,” to Raleigh with “Fire in the Triangle” and Greensboro with “Fire in the Triad, the best was saved for last as the first 44 Competition Dining Series dinners were held earlier in the year.
If you plan to attend the series championships in Raleigh, I suggest you purchase tickets as SOON as they go on sale. Keep your eyes and mobile devices peeled to CompetitionDining.com as well as the Facebook page for information. Tickets will be sold within a matter of minutes, I'm sure.
Tuesday night, it was the final showdown of Fire in the Triad between Chef George C Neal III of 1618 West (left) and Chef Michael Harkenreader (right) of Undercurrent, both of Greensboro. Both chefs knocked out 13 competitors for the chance to wear the coveted red chef's jacket, win $2,000 and are already wearing clogs they won in the semifinals from sponsor, Dansko.
|The most elegant mug shots I've ever seen|
The peanuts, courtesy of Aunt Ruby's Peanuts in Halifax County, NC
The beer, courtesy of The Mash House Brewery in Fayetteville, NC
As the ingredient was revealed, everyone in the room cheered... except for me :( I am highly allergic to peanuts and I was scared. I thought I was going to have to high-tail it back to Winston-Salem and get a burger on the way home.
Alas, I did not. The kitchen was notified and all of my plates were modified. This is a true testament to the competition and the chefs in the back-of-the-house. I didn't feel entitled to have special dishes, just for me, but I was glad I was able to enjoy each course. I did, however, have to leave the dining room to eat a few of the courses because the aroma of peanuts overwhelmed me, but I had an EpiPen on standby and a few Benedryl to help quell any reactions. No trip to Moses Cone was needed.
Judges: Michael Hastings, food editor of the Winston-Salem Journal, Eliza Hudson, editor of Our State Magazine and John Batchelor, food critic for News & Record in Greensboro.
I was also fortunate to sit at the party table last night!
Seated with us: Colleen Minton, organizer of TerraVITA, Kim of Triangle Localista, Susan Dosier of DK Communications Group (my favorite PR lady), and Kristi of Triadfoodies (with Mister and Sister Foodie in tow)
Let's get down to the business of getting down!
Red Onion Smoked Cheddar Tarte Tartin, IPA Roasted Peanut Vinaigrette, Lavender-Orange Marmalade
|Full of peanutty, orangy goodness|
|My modified plate sans vinaigrette|
Peanut Crusted Pork Tenderloin with Apple Compote, Caramelized Onion, Romano, Andouille Oktoberfest Risotto Cake, Coconut Sauce, Curry Oil & Balsamic
|Hmm... this looks familiar|
|My modified plate sans peanut-crusted pork and apple compote|
Korean IPA Braised Pork Open Faced Taco, Parsley, Radish, Carrots & Peanuts, Puff Pastry Ball Stuffed with Shrimp, Peanuts, NC Tomatoes, Basil & Goat Cheese, BBQ Beer Sauce, Sweet Potato Beurre Blanc
Bacon Wrapped Pork Osso Buco, Apple Turnip Puree, Oktoberfest Peanut Mole, Boiled Peanut Hummus, Celery Gremolata
|Pork Osso buco is code word for HAM HOCK|
|My modified plate sans peanut hummus|
Ginger & Sea Salt Chocolate Ganache, Caramel-Honey Ice Cream, Peanut Buttermilk Cake, Porter-Molasses Glaze
|Look at those Redskin peanuts! This photo makes me long to eat them.|
|People pointed and laughed at my modified plate.|
Cinnamon Roll with Candied Peanuts, Chocolate Bowl filled with Chocolate Peanut Porter Ice Cream, Crème Anglaise
|Photo courtesy: NikSnacks|
|The best part of this course: the cinnamon roll|
I can only attest to what I ate and my favorite part of this course was the cinnamon roll. It was soft, buttery, cinnamon-y and all mine. The chocolate bowl was good and the Porter ice cream was good as well, but the star was that cinnamon roll. When I grow up, I want to learn how to make rolls like this.
After all of the electronic votes were in, it was time for the chefs and their crews to come out, make commentary about the night's competition, the competition as a whole, shake each others' hands and listen to Jimmy Crippen read the results and reveal the winner.
|Jimmy Crippen reading the voter's results|
|Fire in the Triad Results. Click to enlarge|
The WINNER: Chef George C. Neal III of 1618 Seafood Grille
|Moments after hearing team 1618 won|
|Celebrating with newly donned red chefs coats|
The Winner's Circle
|(l to r) Chef Michael Foreman of Bistro Roca, Chef Ryan Payne of Weathervane, Chef George Neal of 1618 Seafood Grille, Chef Andy Hopper of Chefs 105|
|I dare George to show up at Bank of America with this bad boy.|