Chefs revealed for Got to Be NC Competition Dining battles in Triangle
Posted January 7, 2015
Updated January 9, 2015
Raleigh, N.C. — It is time to feel the heat. On Monday, Got to Be NC Competition Dining Series announced the 16 chefs competing in this year's Triangle rounds.
The bracket pits chefs against one another in "Iron Chef-style" battles with a twist – the audience/diners get to eat and vote! And their votes make up 70 percent of the total score, with the judges' panel only counting for 30 percent. Diners vote on smartphones and winners are declared each night after the meals.
In year's past the competition has focused on five regions of the state, but host and creator Jimmy Crippen said the focus has changed to only three sections of the state - the Triangle, Charlotte and the Triad. Competing chefs will come from the surrounding areas of each region.
The format for the competition is simple: Chefs arrive to 1705 Prime, 705 E. Millbrook Road in Raleigh, the site for all battles, around noon on competition day. They find out the secret ingredient and must get to work with their two assistants to create three courses featuring that ingredient. They all have access to the same pantry and the same ingredients. They are also prohibited from making anything from their restaurants.
Their menus are due by 3:30 p.m. and diners start arriving at 6 p.m. Dinner is served at about 7 p.m.
Secret ingredients last year ranged from chocolate to corn. But look for those ingredients to be different for the Triangle this time around, as the Raleigh rounds are being held in January-March as opposed to the summer.
Crippen said the change in the timing of the Triangle rounds was deliberate - to give chefs different ingredients and something to do during a typically slow time of the year for them.
Tickets for all first round battles are $55 per person (excluding beverage, tax and tip and can be reserved online.
It a single-elimination contest with the winner being crowned on March 2.
Here are the first round match-ups:
- Jan. 19: Gerry Fong of Persimmons Waterfront Restaurant in New Bern, vs. Benjamin Harris of Midtown Grille in Raleigh
- Jan. 20: Trey Cleveland of Top of the Hill Restaurant & Brewery in Chapel Hill, versus Ryan Conklin of Rex Healthcare in Raleigh
- Jan. 21: Shane Ingram of Four Square Restaurant in Durham, versus Ben Strange of Aperitivo at Lawson’s Landing in New Bern
- Jan. 26: Christopher Hill of Faire Steak & Seafood in Raleigh, versus Teddy Diggs of Il Palio in Chapel Hill
- Jan. 27: Ben Adams of Piedmont Restaurant in Durham, versus Chelsi Hogue of Ed's Southern Food & Spirits in Goldsboro
- Jan. 28: Patrick Cowden of Tobacco Road Sports Cafe in Raleigh/Durham, versus Curt Shelvey of Curt's Cucina in Southern Pines
- Feb. 2: Spencer Carter of Weathervane in Chapel Hill, versus Rhett Morris of Rhett's Restaurant in Southern Pines
- Feb. 3: Benjamin Guaman of Governors Club in Chapel Hill, versus Brandon Stark of Michael's Seafood Restaurant in Carolina Beach
Notes about the competitors
- Some chefs competed last year, including Fong, Hill, Carter.
- Gerry Fong of Persimmons notably won "Cutthroat Kitchen" on the Food Network. He competed the first two years of Competition Dining then took a year off.
- Christopher Hill is competing for the fourth year in a row. He is the only competitor in the field with that level of Competition Dining experience. After representing The Oxford in previous rounds, he will have a team from the new Eschelon Experiences restaurant Faire, where is now head chef.
- Spencer Carter was on the Weathervane team that won Final Fire championship in its inaugural year and competed last year as the team leader for Weathervane. He is laid back but don't let that fool you, he has Final Fire champ Ryan Payne as his mentor.
- Chelsi Hogue of Ed's is the lone female chef in the field this year.
- Ryan Conklin of Rex Healthcare has been winning culinary competitions among other health providers. He said he is ready to show the culinary world what he and his team can do against other restaurants. "Go big or go home," he said.
- Brandon Stark of Michael's Seafood in Carolina Beach has been with the restaurant for 10 years. He worked his way up from dishwasher to chef.
The competition is part of the Got to Be NC competition dining series. The winner from the Triangle will go on to the finals to compete against the winners of the Triad and Charlotte competitions. The last chef standing wins $2,000 and the coveted red chef’s jacket. The runner-up will get $500.