Raleigh, N.C. — Fire in the Triangle continues its second round this week! Let's get to know some of the chefs.
Here's what James had to say about round one, looking ahead to round two and his connection to his fellow chef:
What surprised you most about round one? Thoughts on your secret ingredient?
James: The thing that surprised me most about Round 1 was the calmness in the kitchen. Everything seemed under control in the first three hours. The last three hours were a blur. I loved the secret ingredient! It was easily incorporated into all three courses.
What secret ingredient in the first round did you most want to work with but didn't get?
James: Pork, always pork.
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?
James: I don't want to see sturgeon. I'd love to see bacon and eggs.
Do you know your competitor well? Any history of working together?
James: Chris and I have worked together in many places as a team: Fox and the Hound, Blue Note LP, McGregor Downs Country Club. We are very close friends and in a way have grown up in the restaurant business together. I know that he is super talented and was in the semi-finals last year. I was his biggest fan and was thrilled that he did so well. That being said, I want to win this competition and he's in the way. But no matter who wins, we will always be friends and colleagues.
What do you want to get out of this competition, besides winning?
James: I think the goal of the competition is to become a better chef by challenging yourself. I also enjoy meeting and working with fellow chefs. It is also great exposure for me on a personal level and most importantly for the restaurant. Getting to work with a variety of local products is a plus.
One thing you want to share with diners about you and your restaurant.
James: I would like the diners to know that at Midtown Grille, the spontaneous nature of the competition is a philosophy we use in our kitchen regularly. We thrive on challenging ourselves to work with seasonal ingredients and create new dishes as much as possible.