Raleigh, N.C. — The Got to Be NC Competition Dining Series comes to a close Monday night in the Triangle. Two chefs remain. As talented as they are, they definitely were considered underdogs entering this competition.
Rex Healthcare's Ryan Conklin doesn't work for a restaurant per se, he is the manager of food services there. The graduate the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, N.Y., used to work at the Four Seasons Hotel in Manhattan, where he prepared dishes for celebrities including Oprah Winfrey and Anthony Hopkins. He also worked as a chef in Limerick, Ireland. He has been in the health care food service industry for a decade, winning gold and silver medals in health care food competitions. Competition Dining has been his first opportunity to showcase what Rex Healthcare can do while facing off against restaurant chefs.
In his first round, Conklin's scores were so high that people were calling him the "dark horse" to win this competition.
Curt Shelvey of Curt's Cucina in Southern Pines is also a Competition Dining first-timer. Born and raised in New England, he has been in and around the restaurant business since he was a child. He started as a dishwasher and prep cook in Italian restaurants. After taking a four year break to serve in the U.S. Marine Corp., he returned to his passion - the kitchen and made his way to South working as a chef in various resort hotels along the east coast. He worked for 10 years as a chef at the Pinehurst Country Club before opening his own Italian restaurant. Curt's Cucina has been open for four years.
As with all Competition Dining dinners, the chefs will be required to work with at least one secret North Carolina produced ingredient. All food used comes from special mobile pantry. Chefs will find out the secret ingredient Monday at noon and have the afternoon to work up menus and prep for the night's sold-out dinner at 1705 Prime in Raleigh.
Each chef will create three dishes. Tastings are blind, so no diners will know who made what until the end of the night. Diners will vote on each course on their smartphones via the free Competition Dining app.
The winner of the Got to Be NC Competition Dining Series: Triangle will receive $2,000, a handmade chef knife by Ironman Forge and the coveted "Red Chef Jacket." The Triangle winner will go on to compete against the winners of the Charlotte and Triad rounds later this year.