As each of the participating chefs, mixologists, distillers, judges, co-hosts and sponsors bask in the afterglow of a wonderful 2017 NC Chef Showdown, presented by Got To Be NC on behalf of the NCRLA, we couldn’t let this week end without to sharing a recap of highlights of the Aug 21, 2017 event and congratulate all of our winners once again!
Lights, camera, eclipse, and action…
The day of the August 21 started early for the team from the NCRLA led by event coordinator extraordinaire Mindy Wharton, as they transformed the event space at Market Hall and 214 Martin Street in Raleigh from an empty venue to a warm and festive party scene set to celebrate the work of North Carolina’s participating chefs, restaurants and mixologists.
Stopping only to view the eclipse – how could they not? – flowers were arranged, gift bags stuffed, tables draped, bars set, beer & wine delivered, all as 16 participating chefs and six mixologists started to arrive to get things ready for the crowd of 300+ attendees. The evening was a spectacular blend of music, food and drink, a bit of industry networking and tons of fun for all.
The crowd arrived at 6, but the action started at 5 pm as chefs began presenting their individual dishes to our esteemed panel of six culinary judges. The judging process took approximately two and half hours, with a different chef presenting every 10 minutes.
Then through the course of the evening, the chefs and their assistants served generous sample-sized portions of their dishes to the crowd who were doing a bit of judging all their own in making their selections for the 2017 NC Chef Showdown People’s Choice awards for best of show in both the Sweet and Savory categories.
2017 NCRLA Chef of the Year
Chef Matthew Krenz | The Asbury at the Dunhill Hotel
After all was said, done and eaten. Chef Matthew Krenz of The Asbury at the Dunhill Hotel in Charlotte NC was awarded with the coveted 2017 NCRLA Chef of the Year award. His plate, a reflection of the way he cooks each day at The Asbury, and a nod to his family’s cattle ranch, Krenz Ranch in Marshville, North Carolina.
The Asbury features a Krenz Ranch blackboard on the menu and offerings vary from day to day, week to week, as Chef Matthew and his team use each and every part of the animal. This night Krenz’s dish featured the Krenz Ranch beef fat. “I can tell you that there is a whole lot more fat on an animal than there is fillet mignon,” he told the judges. ” So I wanted to feature it here to demonstrate how important it is that we use all of the parts of the animal.” To that end, Krenz created his Krenz Ranch Beef Fat Sweet Potato Confit for the Showdown using local Sorghum, North Carolina Sweet Potato Puree, Sweet Potato Chips, Assorted Peppers, Bosky Acre Goat Cheese Crema and Microgreens.
2017 NCRLA Pastry Chef of the Year
Chef Ann Marie Stefaney | Heirloom Restaurant
On the sweeter side of things. the top pastry honors went to Pastry Chef Ann Marie Stefaney of Heirloom Restaurant, also in Charlotte as she was named 2017 NCRLA Pastry Chef of the Year. Like Krenz and the team at the Asbury, Stefaney , Heirloom Executive Chef Clark Barlow and his team take pride in making use of everything they source from local farms.
Chef Barlow also forages which gives Stefany a plentiful local pantry from which to draw on for inspiration. Heirloom has the distinction of using ONLY North Carolina products on the menu and so every item on Stefaney’s dessert plate had local roots. Her plate was a dramatic presentation and a play on the idea of “Coconut Apricot Cake” with fig leaves, chanterelle mushrooms, chocolate dirt, smoked blackberries, chantilly cream and acorn-candied pecans.
2017 NCRLA Mixologist of the Year
Amanda Britton | 204 North Kitchen and Cocktails
Muddy River Distillery
Because man and woman cannot live by food along, there was also drink. This was the first official year that mixologists were a part of the competition and they stirred up excitement throughout the evening at individual bars each crafting a specific cocktail made for the occasion.
The mixologists were selected and sponsored by six local North Carolina Distilleries; and throughout the evening our panel of three Mixology judges walked from bar to bar to judge drinks and mixologists alike to ultimately award the title of NCRLA Mixologist of the Year to Amanda Britton, of 204 North Kitchen & Cocktails in Charlotte NC.
Amanda represented Muddy River Distillery in Belmont with her creative mix, named for the spirit in the featured cocktail: Queen Charlotte’s Clarified Milk Punch. A unique blend of Muddy River’s reserve Queen Charlotte Rum with cognac, absinthe, green tea, whole milk, sugar, lemons, pineapple and spices. Stay tuned for our post next week with the complete recipe for Amanda’s winning cocktail as well as those of the other five mixologists competing in the 2017 Showdown.
While these culinarians from North Carolina’s Queen City, pictured here with NCRLA president and CEO Lynn Minges and Chairman of the Board, Mike Martino with Sheraton Imperial Hotel and Convention Center, took the triple crown of top awards at the 2017 Showdown, there were still more accolades to come, both from the judges’ tables as well as from the crowd of guests in attendance.
2017 NCRLA NC Chef Showdown GotToBeNC, Most Creative Plate and People’s Choice Award Winners
Twenty percent of each chefs totally score was based on the use of local North Carolina product, while another 30 percent was based on creativity of concept and presentation. Our top award winners scored high marks in each category, but there were also others who deserved recognition.
The “GotToBeNC Award” for Pastry, made possible by the North Carolina Department of Agriculture, and awarded for the best use of local products in a dessert went this year to Pastry Chef Hannah Woociker of Highland Avenue restaurant in Hickory North Carolina for her plate entitled, “Summer Fields” The delicious, and eventually award-winning, melange on Chef Woociker’s plate included a Lime Basil Mousse, Macerated Muscadine Grapes, Lard Dough Crumble, Muscadine Sauce, and a delicate Sunflower Seed Brittle.
The “GotToBeNC Award” – again from the North Carolina Department of Agriculture – for the 2017 Showdown’s savory side of things was awarded to chef Lil Lacassagne of the Burke Manor Inn & Pavilion in Gibsonville, NC, located just outside of Greensboro. Chef Lil’s dish was a tasty North Carolina French Surf and Turf with Smoked Trout Tartare served in a trout skin cone and Duck Confit Parmentier with North Carolina Collards. The composed plate included NC Apple Roasted Roses on a bed of bacon with a NC peach glaze and was garnished with real roses from the inn’s garden, a tip of Chef Lil’s toque to the city of Gibsonville, also known as the City of Roses.
The Most Creative Dish Award honors were also given to one sweet and one savory dish.
Most Creative Dish for Pastry went to pastry Chef Shelby Smith of Top Of the Hill Restaurant in Chapel Hill, NC. Chef Shelby’s dish featured fresh seasonal figs from three local farms. While her Bruleéd Figs took center stage on the plate, her homemade Goat Cheese Ice Cream, & Buttermilk Cornmeal Cake with Apple Gel, Honey “Caviar”, and Meringue shards comprise the delicious cast of supporting flavor and texture.
And then there was the Most Creative Dish of the savory plates. Presentation always sets the tone and in this case winner Chef Tim Grandinetti of Spring House Restaurant. Kitchen & Bar in Winston-Salem NC decided to go big or go home.Each individual judges plate of Chef Grandinetti’s BBQ Spiced Chicken Confit with BBQ Dip featuring NC’s Cheerwine “Pop” & Compressed Watermelon; Sweet Corn & Garden Pepper-studded Cast-Iron Skillet griddled Hoecake with Duke’s Creamy & Crispy Slaw; and Pickled Peaches was presented under a dome encapsulated with a warm, rich smokiness. Judges lifted their own to take in the aroma before the first bite of the dish.
As the professional judges considered each dish and cocktail, 2017 Showdown guests were invited to judge as well. Each guest had one vote in each category, giving color coded tickets to their favorite savory plate, sweet plate and cocktail. We are proud to announce our 2017 NCRLA NC Chef Showdown People’s Choice winners are….
For 2017 People’s Choice Best Cocktail the award went to Mixologist Jesse Cortez representing Graybeard Distillery’s Bedlam Vodka. Graybeard is in Durham NC and is a relatively new North Carolina distillery producing a grain to glass spirit from rice! Cortez’s creative cocktail was called “All Dogs Go To Heaven” and combined the smooth taste of Bedlam with a unique grapefruit tonic. it is pictured here in the glass in the foreground of this great cocktail shot shared with us by Raleigh-based blogger Jenny Field, Pastry Chef Online, who covered the event on her social media feeds.
For 2017 People’s Choice Best Savory Dish, honors and congratulations go once again to Chef Tim Grandinetti of Springhouse Restaurant, Kitchen & Bar in Winston-Salem North Carolina, this years only double award winner! While the plates for each of the evenings 300 guests weren’t served under glass domes, the flavors on the plate spoke for themselves.
Always nice to end things on a sweet note and that is no exception when it comes to the announcement of our 2017 People’s Choice Best Dessert. This year the award goes to the only male pastry chef in our line up, Chef Julius Kalman, chef and owner of Vidalia Restaurant and Wine Bar in Boone, NC. Chef Julius’ rich chocolate cake took the crowd by storm. His layered Hungarian-Style Chocolate Rum Cake included a Berry cream filling and chocolate buttercream; arranged in a pool of sorghum caramel and topped with a chocolate chip pecan honey cookie and mixed berry coulis that was infused with North Carolina’s own Jones Von Drehle red wine.
WITH OUR HEARTFELT THANKS…
Thanks again to all of our talented chefs, top shelf mixologists & distilleries and our esteemed panels of judges , co-hosts Heidi Billotto and WRAL’s Ken Smith and to all of our 2017 Showdown guests.
We’d also once again like to thank our sponsors and give a big shout out to Pepsi for providing the non alcoholic refreshments at our bars; to Shelton Vineyard for the wines and the gift packages for our Most Creative winners; to Trophy Brewing and Appalachian Brewing Company for the evening’s selection of beer ; to La Farm Bakery of Cary, NC for the fabulous table of fresh baked bread to accompany all of the sweet and savory plates of the evening; and to Jeff Matthews of Old World Molding Company in Mooresville, NC for creating the 2017 commemorative coasters we gave to each of this years’ participating chefs, mixologists and judges.
And now some more exciting news just in from the NCRLA…
Initiated in 2016, the NC Chef Showdown has proven itself an invaluable addition to the North Carolina Restaurant & Lodging Expo, which connects the restaurant and lodging industries for an all-inclusive program of education and an exposition of the latest products, services and technologies from across the state. This year’s expo took place on Monday, Aug. 21 and Tuesday, Aug. 22, featuring an assembly of industry professionals discussing state-of-the-art practices and innovative ideas affecting restaurant and hospitality businesses today.
Next year, in 2018, the NCRLExpo is Charlotte bound, scheduled to take place August 27-28. And that means the 2018 NC Chef Showdown will take place in Charlotte as well on Monday evening Aug 27 – Stay tuned…more details to come!