Raleigh, N.C. — With some unique secret ingredients at play, the fifth battle of this round of the Got To Be NC Competition Dining Series was packed in downtown Raleigh Tuesday night. Diners, or shall I say judges, started arriving to the event venue, 214 Martin Street, at 6 p.m., and everyone was seated by 6:55.
I sat at a table with a few special guests from the Doubletree Brownstone, a reporter from the CaryCitzen and a competitors' wife. It was a fun group, and before the first dish was served we chatted while enjoying multiple baskets full of white chocolate and sourdough bread from LaFarm Bakery in Cary.
How it works
Battle 5: Poulet rouge & curries was the fifth of seven battles that have taken place at the venue over the past week.
Each day, two local chefs—each armed with a team of other culinary experts of their choosing—compete against one another to qualify for the final competition and $2,000.
The catch? The morning of the battle, the chefs are given two secret, locally sourced ingredients that they must somehow incorporate into their courses that night.
At the battle, they prepare the meals as the waiters serve them, and the diners rate each dish on their phones to determine the winning team.
This battle required chefs from team Brinehaus and team Mirepoix to use poulet rouge from Joyce Farms and Kerala curries.
"What?!" I thought when the ingredients were announced. I had literally never heard of poulet rouge and quietly leaned over to ask a fellow tablemate. It was described to me as "fancy chicken," and I quickly got even more excited.
Competition Dining courses are served blindly, with diners uninformed of who made which dish until the end of the night. For each course, diners and local chefs grade the dish on aroma, presentation, creativity, taste and other factors. All scores are out of a possible 40 points.
The scores shown below are the final weighted scores for each course.
Each chef prepared an appetizer, an entree and a dessert. Poulet rouge had to be in two of those dishes; the curries had to be in all three.
Joyce Farms poulet rouge menage aux trois, drumstick confit, seared wing, liver mousse, kerala curry tomato chutney vinaigrette
My first thought was, "liver what?" But when I first saw the dish it was clear the presentation was on point, and the smell was incredible. I looked around the table as some people began to take their first bite, and we all agreed—it was delicious. Whatever was pickled on the top added a great flavor to the overall dish, and the wing was sweet with just the right amount of spice. For the most part, I steered clear of the liver mousse. The man to my right enjoyed it very much and suggested I eat it with the chip. I had a bite, but I did not enjoy the flavor. The consistency reminded me of hummus.
Roulade of Joyce Farms poulet rouge, kerala lemon curry yogurt, charred local pattypan squash, NC heirloon tomato salad, cloister honey wildflower honey and omed moscatel vinaigrette
Now this dish got me excited! The curry yogurt, fresh squash and tomato salad—yum! The initial smell was amazing and I quickly heard one of my tablemates say "They nailed it!" It tasted like the best kind of Thanksgiving meal. The dish was full of fresh veggies and the sauce paired great with the poulet rouge. This dish did not last long on our plates and we used more of the delicious bread from La Farm to soak up every bit of the sauce that was left on our plates—no joke.
Kerala gunpowder curry spice roasted Joyce Farms poulet rouge breast, roasted farmers' market vegetables pearl barley and red quinoa risotto and wild mushroom saute.
I think this dish was my favorite of the night. The poulet rouge was great and the sauce was flavorful. The risotto was incredible and the use of curry in this dish was noticeable, but not overpowering. As I was taking down a few notes I heard someone say, "This is very well spiced." I personally do not like mushrooms, so I pushed those to the side, but the bits of cucumber made for an excellent addition to the dish. While I did not think this dish was incredibly unique, it was certainly a crowd pleaser with a lot of texture!
Fried Joyce Farms poulet rouge thigh, Kerala tomato curry field pea succotash, poulet rouge cracklin'
This one smelled spicy! The poulet rouge thigh looked like a fried buffalo chicken wing. This dish had a great flavor and a great crunch. The poulet rouge was a little over done in my opinion, but paired with the peas, it worked. This dish definitely had the most curry of them all, but the mix of flavors made it so it was not overpowering. I was not sold on the presentation of this dish. The poulet rouge thigh covered in sauce really took over and I was not sure exactly what I was looking at. The smell though, won me over.
Mille feuille, Kerala mango curry bavarois, roasted NC peaches, tart cherry and passion fruit coulis
This dessert was beautiful! As soon as the plate was in front of each of us, we all agreed the presentation was perfect. While the dish was a little hard to eat—I needed my knife and fork back—the curry sauce was a delicious and creative way to work the spice into the dessert. I am a huge peach fan, so the peach was a welcome sight. It almost tasted like buttered cinnamon toast. As we all quickly devoured this dish, all you could hear was the clanking on spoons on the plates as everyone at the table, myself included, worked to scrape up every last bite.
Kerala mango curry frozen yogurt, chocolate ganache, macerated local berries, Black Mountain cocoa nibs, Bertie County blister fried peanuts
Chocolate! My favorite part of any dessert. Needless to say, I was pretty excited to try this one. The presentation of this dish was also very pretty. A few seconds after my first bite I said, "Wow. Something is burning my throat." The curry frozen yogurt snuck up on each of us. It was cold and tasted great in your mouth, but when it hit your throat it was quite intense. I didn't love the basil leaf on top, and unfortunately got stuck with that taste in my mouth, but I loved the chocolate ganache and peanuts that were sprinkled on the top. This dish was definitely creative and ended the night with a bang!
Voting in the battles is incredibly easy, and everyone in the room had submitted their ballot 10 minutes after the meal. In addition to the "joes" or diners, there were three "pros" who also judged each dish.
The chefs were finally able to come out from their busy kitchens, and they were welcomed by a sea of applause. Within minutes we quickly found out who made each dish as the scores went live on screen.
This battle was extremely close! The winner (with a score of 30.623) was team "Mirepoix," a group of chefs from Apex, Cary and Wake Forest representing Peak City Grill & Bar, Chef's Palette Restaurant & Bar and Main Street Grille cafe &Bakery. "Mirepoix" created the sweet and spicy seared wing, the poulet rouge breast with pearl barley and risotto, and the beautiful mille feuille.
The runners up (by not by much!), Team Brinehaus (with a score of 30.055) were a group of chefs from Pittsboro and Etowah. They represented the Brine Haus Meat & Provisions, Piedmont Biofarm and the Old Etowah Smokehouse. They made the delicious roulade of poulet rouge, fried thigh with field pea succotash and creative and spicy curry frozen yogurt.
The end of the battle was a proud moment for both sets of chefs, and diners, and their families, as everyone congratulated them and thanked them for the wonderful meal.