Raleigh, N.C. — Rabbit and green beans - two items that are in season and can be purchased at the Midtown Farmers Farmers Market - were the secret ingredients in an Iron Chef-like competition on Saturday at the market.
The competition featured chefs from four North Hills restaurants - Coquette Brasserie's Beth LittleJohn, CowFish's Ryan Stewart, Flights at the Renaissance's Anthony Zinani and Mia Francesca's Zachary VanGaasbeek.
Rabbit was definitely a surprise for the chefs, but LittleJohn and Zinani both said they had previously worked with the protein and were more than ready to take it on again.
Chefs were given $50 in "market bucks" to go shopping at vendors for supplies. They were given one-hour to prepare two dishes containing the secret ingredients. The judges - Edible Piedmont's Fred Thompson, Walter Magazine's Liza Roberts, Midtown Raleigh Alliance's Tara Robbins, Midtown Magazine's Travis Appt and myself - were tasked with trying both dishes and awarding Best Presentation and Best Overall awards.
The chefs were also competiting for the "People's Choice" award, which would be determined by 25 market patrons who tasted each chef's second course.
Zinani, part of the Flights team that took home the Fire in the Triangle crown, immediately started working on his two dishes by grilling the rabbit and prepping a waffle batter. Midtown market hosts 'Iron Chef' competition
Team CowFish covered softshell crabs with sesame seeds for their second dish and created a bacon potato cake batter for their first dish.
Coquette had a selection of figs, fresh greens and squash. They prepared a salad featuring green beans and figs and a second course hash with grilled rabbit.
Mia Francesca's team was secretive. VanGassbeek said he wanted diners to be surprised. His strategy paid off. The team's second course - grilled rabbit over grits was awarded Best Overall dish from the judges.
CowFish's first dish - a bacon potato cake and grilled rabbit - was awarded for Best Presentation. Coquette's second course - the grilled rabbit hash - was a close second on this one!
In addition to judging, I emceed the event and I have to tell you the food was amazing! And the teams really worked hard to prepare dishes that appealed to a wide-variety of diners. The judges enjoyed the dishes so much, we had to stop ourselves from eating everything because we had to save room for each dish.
I know the patrons in the People's Choice tent had a tough decision! They awarded the People's Choice award to the team from Flights and their waffle topped with rabbit and blueberries. It was very yummy!
Editor's Note: North Hills is an advertiser with WRAL.com. Editorial content, like restaurant reviews and event previews, are done solely from a journalistic perspective and are not solicited.