Fire in the Triangle: Heirloom tomatoes and TOPO Distillery
Chefs from Market and New Southern Kitchen competed in the latest round of this competition dining series. It was a night of kilts and cowboy hats!Posted — Updated
"It was tomatoey and desserty."
Which dish was he referring to? Read on to find out!
While the ingredients might sound simple, chefs Michael Lee (Sono) and Serge Falcoz-Vigne (518 West), who were in attendance last night, said that simple ingredients don't mean a simple night in competition dining. Creating dishes that showcase the ingredients in a different way can be difficult. Lee competed last year and Falcoz-Vigne is competing for the second time.
Here's a rundown of each course, reviews and results. In each round and overall, diners (the Joes) and local media foodies (the Pros) grade the dish on aroma, presentation, creativity and other factors. All scores are out of a possible 30 points.
Slama said she originally wanted to do a stuffed tomato, but found that she didn't have enough tomatoes. Instead, she packed the filling between two green tomato slices. The lobster was a nice treat inside.
Diner Marc Best liked the way the bottom tomato slice "soaked up the juices." But some diners remarked that it was under-seasoned.
Professional judge for the evening and Out and About contributor Becca Gomez Ferrell (@TheGormez) loved the pistachios and citrus flavors.
"You can definitely taste the TOPO Distillery in course 2," diner Corey Woodard (@CoreyMichelle) tweeted.
Diner Jennifer Haynes liked the sauce but felt like it was missing more seasoning. That comment was echoed by a few other diners.
The varying portions on this dish left some diners without potato salad and/or mango salsa. Gomez praised the two accompaniments, especially the burst of flavor in the mango salsa.
Diners at some tables were sharing their plates so others could try the salad and salsa.
Mel K. of Table 20 was a fan of the sauce but wasn't sure how it worked with the rest of the dish.
After course 3, diners were still waiting for that "wow" moment. Then, course 4 was handed out.
Pork belly is hot right now and the diners were excited to see how it was going to be used tonight. It seems to sneak its way into each battle.
Professional judge Vivian Howard, of the Chef and the Farmer and the upcoming PBS reality show "A Chef's Life," described the dish best as "very comforting."
It was a hit with most diners and scored the highest of the night. Diner Mike Cole who said he would lick the plate clean - that's how much he loved it.
Falcoz-Vigne enjoyed it, an offered an interesting take suggestion - putting the Sheepshead fish from the previous course on the pork belly.
"I was leery of tomato and chocolate," diner Sharon Rudolph said. Then, she tasted it and was pleasantly surprised.
Cole was a big fan of this dish, adding that he would lick his plate clean after this one too.
The dessert had enough rich chocolate to satisfy the sweet-tooth and the compote was a great use of tomato on top.
"30 out of 30," diner William Fay said, before noting that it was "tomatoey and desserty."
"Phenomenal," another diner said.
"OMG ... Whichever chef who did the roasted tomato cheesecake has to come to my house and teach me how to make this!!!!" professional judge for the evening Dathan Kazsuk (@dathankazsuk) tweeted.
For Gomez, the sauce was the star.
"So I would buy Course 6's basil-gin syrup all on its own," she tweeted.
The only complaint I heard on this one was the lumpiness of the cheesecake. McIntyre said that was the one thing he wished he could have fixed, but there just wasn't enough time for the cream cheese to set.
McIntyre was out for redemption. He was eliminated last year after a very difficult battle involving frozen Butterball turkeys. He got it by defeating Slama in a night that saw the professional judges handing out relatively low scores compared to previous nights.
In addition to competing in her first Fire in the Triangle, last minute cancelations left Slama entering the kitchen with two sous chefs she doesn't normally cook with. She perservered though garnering praise for her unique take on the ingredients.
Though they were competitors, McIntyre and Slama enjoyed working in the same kitchen. Emcee Jimmy Crippen said the two had the most fun he had ever seen in the kitchen.
"Just because we are competitors doesn't mean we can't be friends," Slama said.
McIntyre cooked the entire day in a kilt that he sewed himself.
"We decided that we would have to go in with battle gear," he said.
It was a sad battle for Crippen who said the two chefs are truly two of his favorites. He called Slama a "fierce force" who he hopes will return next year.
Fire in the Triangle is part of the Got to Be NC competition dining series. The winner from the Triangle will go on to compete against the winners of the Fire on the Rock, Fire on the Dock, Fire in the Triad and Fire in the City competitions. The last chef standing wins $2,000 and the coveted red chef’s jacket. The runner-up will get $500.