Charlotte, N.C. — Representing Charlotte in the Final Fire dining competition is Chef Jon Fortes of Mimosa Grill, the winner of Fire in the City.
Fortes will compete tonight against Chef John Bobby of Noble's Grille at the Renaissance Raleigh Hotel. If he wins, he will move on to the next round.
Fortes' style is self-described as "Southern with American influences," with the focus on taking the best ingredients and presenting them artfully.
"We're not trying to complicate a lot of flavors on the plate," Fortes said.
This approach has led to dishes like Goat Cheese & Parsnip Gnocchi with Creamed Sweet Corn in Battle Goat Lady Dairy “Julian” Aged Gouda and Honey Bourbon Sweet Potato “Risotto” in Battle Looking Glass Creamery Chocolate Lab Cheese & St. Dominic’s Pure Wild Honey.
In a new kitchen under stressful circumstances, Fortes and the Mimosa Grill team must be able to adapt and produce some fantastic dishes.
"You can't have too much pride in yourself as a chef to not adapt," Fortes said.
After working in restaurants around the country and training in France, Fortes is used to changing his menu items to fit different people, which will no doubt come in handy tonight.
Final Fire is the culmination of six regional dining competitions. The format is the same: each chef prepares three dishes using one or more secret ingredients then diners and professional judges vote without knowing who made what. The winning chef moves to the final round.
All rounds are sold out, but Out and About is the official blogger so check back for complete coverage of each round.