Raleigh, N.C. — Triangle foodies got their second taste Tuesday night of the latest competition to pit local chefs and welcome amateur and celebrity judges alike.
Sixteen teams are Cooking for a Classic, donating their time and talents to create six-course food-and-drink menus for hungry ticket-holders. The teams will compete in a single-elimination, four-round bracket, and the winner will drive away in the grand prize: a restored 1969 Corvette Stingray.
In Tuesday's competition, Nick Fay, from Vidrio, a hot new restaurant on Raleigh's Glenwood South, squared off against Donaldo Guzman from Sitti.
Each chef prepared three dishes: a starter, which was required to be vegan or vegetarian, a main with a protein and a dessert. Each food course was served with a chef-recommended drink pairing.
The competition was close, but Guzman edged out Fay by a slight margin to take the victory and move on to the next round.
The appetizer dishes were quite different, but both delicious.
Despite the outcome, Fay's dishes - salt baked celery root with roasted carrot puree, chicken roulade with celery root puree and braised kale, and a sweet potato cake dessert - were a hit with the table.
"I've never had celery root. This is really interesting," one diner said about her appetizer.
The chicken dish was also a table favorite. Everyone cleaned their plates.
"I love this puree," one diner said.
Fay's dessert, which many diners described as "delicious" was beautifully placed on the plate. Everyone wished the slice was bigger and wanted another helping.
Guzman's dishes - vegan spring rolls with carrots, cabbage and a cilantro soy sauce, duck breast with truffle polenta, brussels and mushrooms, and a hefty slice of chocolate cake - were in sharp contrast to Fay's.
While the table agreed the spring rolls were not the most creative, the cilantro soy sauce could not be beat.
"I'm a fan of this one," one diner said.
"This one wins my vote," another agreed.
The duck breast, which was drizzled with a pomegranate gastrique, was described as "beautiful."
Guzman's dessert, which was a chocolate lovers dream, was very large.
"This is so good, but so rich. It is too much," one diner said.
Throughout the evening, guests rated each course on taste, presentation and other values using a website, and the winner was announced once all the dishes were cleared.
Guzman will now go on to compete against Monday's winner, Rich Carter from Catering Works, on March 8.
Proceeds from tickets sold throughout the series benefit the nonprofit Lucy Daniels Center, which helps children with mental and emotional issues.