How it works: Paying guests get to sample each course in a blind tasting alongside a panel of culinary and celebrity judges in a series of 15 dinner competitions hosted in the four regions of the state. Each evening, two restaurants “battle” it out side-by-side in a single elimination format. Guests savor a six-course menu (three dishes from each chef without knowing whose food they’re tasting) created around a “secret” ingredient. For almost all series, the secret ingredient will come from a North Carolina source. The secret ingredient is revealed to the chefs only an hour before they start cooking and it must be used in each of their three courses Diners, alongside culinary and guest judges, will rate each dish and determine who moves to the next round and who goes home. Semi-Final Round – both chefs had competed and won in the first round of competition.
Contestants: Chef Christopher Hill of Faire and Chef Ryan Conklin CEC from Rex Healthcare At stake is a grand prize of $2,500 and a coveted red chef jacket.
Location: Fire in the Triangle takes place in Raleigh, at 1705 Prime, E Millbrook.
Secret Ingredient #1: The incredible edible North Carolina Egg
North Carolina Egg Association Representing NC Farmers. Egg production is an important segment of the agriculture industry in North Carolina. The Egg Industry ranks 7th in North Carolina commodity receipts.
Our egg farmers are located all over the state from Dare County to Cherokee County. We have approximately 9 million birds which lay about 7 ½ million eggs a day. That is about one bird per person North Carolina. And since the average person eats about 255 eggs per year, we produce enough eggs to feed our residents. Hens lay an egg about once every 26 hours and usually skip a day in the week.
Secret Ingredient #2: Poplar Ridge Farm Sunchokes
Poplar Ridge Farm is a North Carolina Organic Certified Farm Established in 1995 – Owner/Mgr Marianne Battistone – Contrib Expert SELF Magazine since 1980. Poplar Ridge Farm is a Certified Organic Community-Supported Agriculture (CSA) farm offering produce & flower memberships, weekly online orders, an open to the public on-farm market stand, and deliveries to Charlotte metro restaurants.
A sunchoke is a tuber, like a potato, and is often prepared and eaten as a root vegetable. Light brown and bumpy on the outside and white inside, the sunchoke looks somewhat like a small potato or ginger root. It is native to North America and was cultivated by Native Americans prior to the arrival of European settlers. Also called a Jerusalem artichoke, its name can be a source of confusion because the plant is not closely related to the artichoke; rather, it is a member of the same flower family as the sunflower. With a nutty, somewhat sweet flavor, many cooks enjoy adding bits of the crunchy, raw vegetable to salads or salsas, while others prefer them roasted or mashed.
Topo Distillery, LoneRider Brewery and the North Carolina Beer Guys supplied drinks. I loved my spicy Bloody Mary again last night. While we were waiting a basket of bread supplied by La Farm Bakery was placed on our table. Ymm! Belle enjoyed her Shotgun Betty Hefeweizen.
Table 13, a change from my favorite table #4, consisted Linda Barnes, Belle of Triangle Street Eats, Lisa and Jeff, Katey and Matt, John and his date, Christy and Cole and myself. Everyone was excited to be at the dinner. Lisa and Jeff had attended the competition with cocoa nibs. Katey and Matt recently had a baby girl, and were on a date celebrating their anniversary (wink wink) and Linda was celebrating her birthday. They received glasses from Libbey.
First Course: Poplar Ridge Farm Sunchoke-Sweet Potato Steam Bun, Spicy Braised Octopus, Cheshire Pork Belly, Sunchoke-Collard Kimchi, Anaheim Pepper Purée, Sunchoke-Carrot Hoisin. Prepared by Chef Hill receiving a score of 21.85
Second Course: Roasted Veal Medallions, Black Truffle, NC Egg Hollandaise, Poplar Ridge Farm Sunchoke-Bacon, Homemade Mac & Cheese, Rainbow Chard, Perry Lowe Orchard Apples, Sunchokes prepared by Chef Conklin; receiving a score of 29.5
Third Course: Poplar Ridge Farm Sunchoke-Black Garlic Glazed Certified Angus Beef Bistro Steak, Goat Lady Dairy Goat Cheese-Bacon-Caramelized Onion NC Egg Tortellini, Black Truffle Lacinato Kale, Sunchoke, and Veal Glace Cream prepared by Chef Hill; receiving a score of 25.64
Fourth Course: Rack of Lamb, Poplar Ridge Farm Sunchoke-Potato- NC Egg Puff, Tomato-Shiitake Jam, and Lacinato Kale Salsa Verde prepared by Chef Conklin; with a score of 23.94
Fifth Course: Coffee-Choclate IncredibleEggs, NCEgg Cake, Burnt Italian Meringue, Poplar Ridge Farm Sunchoke Caramel, Cabernet Fluid Gel, and Sunchoke Graham Cracker Butter Cookie prepared by Chef Hill with a score of 25.92
Sixth Course: Poplar Ridge Farm Sunchoke & Sweet Potato Beignet, Milke Chocoalate Glacé, Apple Cider- NC Egg Sabayon, Candied Pistachio Crumbs, and Salted Caramel prepared by Chef Conklin; with a score of 30.94
The winner was Chef Ryan Conklin CEC of Rex Healthcare with a score of 28.14 over Chef Christopher Hill with a score of 24.47. It was a battle to the end, who both chefs preparing an outstanding culinary experience, Conklin’s Chocolate Ice cream was the winning course that pushed his score over the top.
The final battle will be between Chef Ryan Conklin of Rex Healthcare and Curt Shelvey of Curts Cucina on March 9. It will be a great competition between two great competitors!
- NC Agriculture
- Certified Angus beef
- SouthernFoods NC
- Whole harvest