Sixteen local chefs will compete in the first Fire in the Triangle dining competition this summer, organizers announced on Wednesday.
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.
Emcee Jimmy Crippen said diners are urged not to try to figure out which chefs made each of the six dishes.
"Just vote your palate," Crippen suggested.
Voting will also be easy. Diners can scan a QR code and vote on their smartphones. 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.
Tickets for all first round battles are $49 per person and can be reserved online.
It a single-elimination contest with the winner being crowned on July 31.
Here are the first round match-ups:
June 26: Christopher Hill (The Oxford) vs. Jimmy Reale (Chapel Hill Country Club)
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 "final four" to compete against the winners of the Fire on the Rock, Fire on the Dock and Fire in the Triad competitions. The Rock and Dock winners have been selected, and the Triad competition is coming up in August and September. The last chef standing wins $2,000 and the coveted red chef’s jacket. The runner-up will get $500.
Dock winner Andy Hopper of Chefs 105 in Morehead City was on hand Wednesday to give the Triangle chefs a little advice.
"Make dessert, no matter what," Hopper said.
Hopper said some of the secret ingredients he had to deal with during his battles were strawberry moonshine, grits, Johnston County hams, pasta and quail.