In Competition Dining's "Iron Chef-style" events, chefs and their teams battle it out in the kitchen, making dishes with a required "secret ingredient." Tuesday night featured two secret ingredients grown or produced in North Carolina: Aunt Ruby's peanuts from Enfield and beer from The Mash House Brewery and Chophouse in Fayetteville.
Guests were treated to a six course meal - three dishes from each chef. Diners and judges were not told which chef made which dish. Voting was done on a dish-by-dish basis via smartphone.
Here's a rundown of the courses:
First course: Red Onion Smoked Cheddar Tarte Tartin, IPA Roasted Peanut Vinaigrette, Lavender-Orange Marmalade (Undercurrent)
Second course: Peanut-Crusted Pork Tenderloin with Apple Compote, Caramelized Onion, Romano Cheese, Andouille Oktoberfest Risotto Cake, Coconut Sauce, Curry Oil & Balsamic Vinegar (1618 Grille)
Third course: Korean-IPA Braised Pork Open-Faced Taco with Parsley, Radish, Carrots & Peanuts atop a Puff Pastry Ball Stuffed with Shrimp, Peanuts, NC Tomatoes, Basil & Goat Cheese served on BBQ Beer Sauce with Sweet Potato Buerre Blanc (1618 Grille)
Fourth course: Bacon Wrapped Pork Osso Bucco, Apple Turnip Puree, Oktoberfest Peanut Mole, Boiled Peanut Hummus, Celery Gremolata (Undercurrent)
Fifth course: Ginger & Sea Salt Chocolate Ganache with Caramel-Honey Ice Cream, Peanut Buttermilk Cake and Porter-Molasses Glaze (Undercurrent)
Sixth course: Cinnamon Roll with Candied Peanuts Paired with a Chocolate Bowl filled with Chocolate Peanut Porter Ice Cream and Crème Anglaise (1618 Grille) – Highest scoring dish of the night
In the end, Neal defeated Harkenreader by 15 percentage points and was named the Fire in the Triad winner. Neal and his team were awarded $2,000, the competition trophy and coveted red chef jackets only given to Competition Dining winners.
Fire in the Triad is part of the Got to Be NC competition dining series. As the winner of the Triad, Neal will go on to the Final Fire State Championship and compete against the winners of the Fire on the Rock, Fire on the Dock and Fire in the Triangle competitions.