Do you suspect that Charlotte has some great chefs who haven’t had a chance to show off their talent? I do, and as a blogger for the Fire in the City Competition Dining series, I am eager to see what some of these guys can do. (But where are the women in the kitchen?) I like a good competition as much as the next foodie fan of shows like Iron Chef, and after talking with several groups of diners during the September 4th event, I am clearly not alone.
The excitement in the room was palpable as the introductions began and the rules of engagement were established. I had the opportunity to go into the kitchen, but I decided at least for my first match to savor the mystery.
I was seated at the table with seven men of various culinary interests. Several of the executives from Southern Foods were at my table, in addition to Chris Harker, the owner of Triple C Brewery. Triple C’s beer was chosen to be featured during the series, and Southern Foods is the generous sponsor of the Competition Dining events. They are clearly passionate about exposing chefs and consumers alike to what is local to NC – a passion that I share.
During the course of what one diner called a “fantasy come true,” the well-choreographed description, delivery and evaluation process did at times feel surreal. The Bonterra servers were gliding in and out of the kitchen, serving everyone within minutes. For each chef to put out three perfectly plated courses (120 of each) that were crafted after the secret ingredient was revealed at noon was a feat in and of itself. The rest of their ingredients were limited to a special pantry of NC-sourced items, adding to the challenge.
I was fascinated by the crowd – a combination of kitchen crews from upcoming contenders, chefs curious about competing next year, the purveyors of the secret ingredient, and lots of lots of people who watch way too much Food Network. But this, my friends and fellow foodies, was real. There are still tickets available for upcoming dinners. Join me for this most excellent adventure.
At the end of the evening it was determined that Chef David Moore of The Gallery will move on to the next bracket. Tune in to Twitter (#CompetitionDiningNC) and Facebook to get the play by play when you can’t attend.
Oh, and the secret ingredient Wednesday night? It was Uncle Scott’s Root Beer. I love what you do, Scott and Suzanne Ramsey. You deserve to shine.