Raleigh, N.C. — It is time to feel the heat. On Monday, Fire in the Triangle announced the 16 local chefs competing in this year's dining competition.
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.
To make voting even easier this year, Competition Dining has released its own app for iPhone and Android users. Diners just use the app to scan the QR code at their place setting. Paper and pencil voting will be available for those who don't have a smartphone.
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 6:30 p.m. Dinner is served at 7 p.m.
Secret ingredients last year ranged from frozen Butterball turkey to Cheerwine.
Tickets for all first round battles are $59 per person (excluding beverage, tax and tip and can be reserved online.
It a single-elimination contest with the winner being crowned on Aug. 19.
Here are the first round match-ups:
Some chefs competed last year – Oxford, Midtown Grille, Washington Duke Inn, Herons – while others are new to the competition. For the first time, there is a female chef competing in Fire in the Triangle. Sokun Slama is representing Whiteville's New Southern Kitchen.
WRAL's Out and About is the official blogger for this year's Fire in the Triangle, so check back each week for interviews, recipes and other exclusive content!
Fire in the Triangle 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 Fire on the Rock, Fire on the Dock, Fire in the Triad and Fire in the City competitions. The last chef standing wins $2,000 and the coveted red chef’s jacket. The runner-up will get $500.
Last year's winner, Ryan Payne from Weathervane, was on hand Monday and said that he and his team strategzied for every possible secret ingredient. While teams might not have enough time to do that, they might be able to take some of Payne's other advice - always do dessert!
Hear more from Ryan below: