Raleigh, N.C. — Fire in the Triangle is moving into the second round this week. Let's get to know our second round chefs!
Chef Serge Falcoz-Vigne of 518 West advanced to the second round after winning Battle Krispy Kreme Doughnuts and Joe Van Gogh Coffee. He will take on Chef Dean Thompson of Flights on Tuesday.
Here's what Falcoz-Vigne had to say about round one and looking ahead to round two:
What surprised you most about round one? Thoughts on your secret ingredient?
Falcoz-Vigne: Definitively the ingredient; the choice of doughnut and coffee was very smart, because it pushed us to have more creativity than ever. With this kind of ingredient, we couldn't stay on the easy side and not use our brains. The doughnut and coffee helped us to take the creativity to another level.
For me, who likes to let the secret ingredient drive the creativity, it was a lot of fun and it helped me to bring some craziness in the competition. To be honest, I very much liked these ingredients. Even if I wasn’t so familiar with the doughnut, I loved it...maybe next time we will have croissant and espresso.
What secret ingredient in the first round did you most want to work with but didn't get?
Falcoz-Vigne: If I have to choose ingredient, I will take veggies of all kinds; a basket of fresh veggies, just picked. When you see all those colors, those shapes, those smells, the inspiration surely won't take long!
Going into round two, what do you absolutely not want to see as a secret ingredient? Any great combos you'd like to see - i.e. donuts and coffee?
I have some great combos to submit to Jimmy [the organizer of the competition]: foie gras and snails! Or Frogs and rabbit!
Ingredient I don’t want to see in the competition? Hamburger and fries! Squirrel and bears!
Do you know your competitor well? Any history of working together?
Falcoz-Vigne: Unfortunately I don’t know my competitor for the next round. I know his name and I met him, but I never worked with him before. I can’t wait till Tuesday to have a good moment of camaraderie in the kitchen with him and both teams.
Competition Dining is a great chance for the chefs of the area to meet each other and have so much fun in the kitchen.
It’s a special day when we compete – it's hard and fun, and it’s good to share that with professional people who understand the food and the cuisine in the same way as you. I am always happy to meet new talented chefs and share good moments with them.
What do you want to get out of this competition, besides winning?
Falcoz-Vigne: Learn something new about the food, the ingredients, the chefs, North Carolina, the world, life, and more important, about me…When we compete under this healthy pressure, we push our limit and, with pleasure, we learn a lot about ourselves. The competition helps you to understand faster where we made mistakes and what we have to do to fix it. It helps you to be better, and this is very nice.
One thing you want to share with diners about you and your restaurant.
Falcoz-Vigne: What I would like to share about me and the restaurant is the love. Love is the secret ingredient of grand-mothers, mothers, kids, grandkids, in fact, everybody…love is what make things better, so love is what I want to share with customer in the restaurant.
The chef also shared one of his recipes with us – simple yet delicious mayonnaise that can elevate a dish. Falcoz-Vigne promises that it is an easy recipe and the results are much tastier than store-bought mayo.
"The one you buy is like a black hole of flavor. It takes away the delicate aromas of ingredients around it," said Falcoz-Vigne.
This mayo recipe is the same one Falcoz-Vigne used in his lobster appetizer in Battle Doughnuts and Coffee.
- 1 egg yolk
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 1 cup oil (soy or same kind)
- 1 teaspoon red wine vinegar, or lemon juice
- Salt and pepper to taste
- In a bowl, briskly whisk the egg yolk and the mustard. Slowly, very slowly at the start, add the oil (1 tablespoon of oil for start, whisk and then add another tablespoon…etc). Slowly add all the oil until you have a nice textured mayonnaise.
- At the end, add the vinegar or lemon, depending your taste, and a little salt and white pepper (instead of black pepper, which creates dots and is not really pretty. Or you can use a drop of Texas Pete, or a little cayenne pepper).
- You can substitute ¼ cup of oil with extra virgin olive oil. Together with lemon juice it will be more than perfect with just-boiled seafood, and better then everything else, with delicious North Carolina shrimp.
Falcoz-Vigne also recommends trying the mayo with deviled or boiled eggs – oeuf mayonnaise are popular in the bistros and brasseries of Paris.