Time for a little game of NC Chef Showdown Q&A.
Everything you ever wanted to know, well almost, about the 2017 line up of talented culinary competitors…
Meet Chef Jim Diecchio – Executive Chef at Rocksalt Restaurant in Charlotte NC
What inspired you to become a chef? My interest in food began as a kid, from harvesting tomatoes with my mom from our garden, making tomato sauce and canning it for the year to come. As well as with my grandma, learning to pickle and can beets and green beans from her garden.
Describe your culinary style. I make food that I want to eat and that I hope other people want to eat too. I don’t do anything new or ground breaking, but rather take familiar dishes and try to present them in a way that reflects my experiences and background. A lot of my background in cooking comes from the Mediterranean, mostly Greek and Italian, but also including Turkish and Lebanese influences as well.
What is your favorite food? Favorites: Tacos or Ramen; Guilty Pleasure: Donuts!
What is your greatest culinary accomplishment? Being invited to cook and then to come back and cook again at the James Beard House in New York City on three separate occasions!
Meet Chef Tim Grandinetti – Executive Chef at Spring House Restaurant Kitchen & Bar in Winston Salem NC
Please describe your culinary style. New Southern Deliciousness!
What do you consider to be the best thing about being a chef? The opportunity to collaborate, to work on a team and to serve my guests
What’s your favorite food? Anything Italian… and I adore Foie Gras!
What you may not know about chef Tim…As creative as my culinary arts might seem, I am a math and science guy, left-brained, and i perceive flavors, textures, and colors as if they were part of an equation… I just try to solve the equation.
Meet Chef Ann Marie Stefaney – Pastry Chef at Heirloom Restaurant in Charlotte NC
What do you consider to be the best thing about being a pastry chef? That I can literally do whatever I want. I make all the bread, cheese, and desserts every day. As long as they are ready at service time I can come up with my own menus. I love it!
Describe your culinary style. Creative – Since I have been at Heirloom I haven’t made the same dish twice, although different variations have come around. I think there is way too much out there to learn than to be stuck in making the same things over and over.
What is your favorite meal? After service at midnight we get grilled cheeses at the diner. Pimento on rye…. yaaaasssssss!
And, what is it we might not know about chef Ann Marie? That she’s been on the Food Network, not once but twice!
Meet Chef Thomas Marlow – Executive Chef at Mimosa Grill in Charlotte NC
What do you consider to be the best thing about being a chef? There is no better feeling on earth then watching a guest take a bite of food that has come from the kitchen to the table and just see their BIG smile on their first bite – It’s why we do what we do – to make others happy!
What’s your favorite meal? Any meal I can have with my girlfriend Allie, they are often few and far between..
What is something people would be surprised to learn about you? After my freshman year of college, I decided to stay in Charlotte for the summer and I needed to find a job to pay my rent and bills. My first Job in Charlotte was actually at Mimosa Grill, but as a server’s assistant/bus boy – It’s funny how it always comes back full circle.
Meet Chef Shelby Smith – Pastry Chef at Top of The Hill Restaurant Chapel Hill NC
How would you describe your culinary style? I like to say I’m always “changing and improving.” I like to take an old classic and reconstruct it with a different element, presentation, or flavor profile.
What’s your favorite meal of the day? BREAKFAST! Breakfast is always that one meal in the day that is really going to make and impression of how you feel throughout the day. I believe you should always having something that is both wholesome, but also soulful to you. Personally, I like a good stack of pancakes with berries or bananas and a nice glass of milk; or even better, biscuits and gravy with soft cooked eggs and fruit, its the best!
What’s your favorite food? I do have a guilty pleasure for pizza. I’ve set a goal with my boyfriend to try every pizza place in the Triangle!
Meet Chef Alyssa Wilen – Chef & Owner Chef Alyssa’s Kitchen in Charlotte NC
How would you describe your culinary style? I like to keep it fresh and healthy and use a lot of Middle Eastern and Mediterranean flavors
What Inspires you? Overall hospitality and putting delicious food on a plate that makes people feel great!
What do you consider to be the best thing about being a chef? The connection to people through food and the artistic outlet it provides.
What is your favorite food and your guilty pleasure? Brisket, I love smoked brisket and my guilty pleasure would be a complete NC BBQ dinner with greens, slaw and hush puppies!
Meet Chef Scott Schabot Executive Chef at Cameron Bar & Grill in Raleigh NC
What inspired you to become a chef? I always enjoyed cooking with my Grandmother as a child. I would say she was my inspiration.
What is your favorite food? I love oysters and I am a sucker for Ramen noodles.
How would you describe your culinary style? Southern with a twist, I like to use simple ingredients and make them pop!
What is your greatest accomplishment? Meeting my wife Sasha and having our daughter Zoey have been the greatest two things in my life
Meet Chef Matthew Krenz Executive Chef at The Asbury at the Dunhill Hotel in Charlotte NC
How do you describe your culinary style? Southern-Inspired cuisine with a focus on local sustainable ingredients, and whole animal processing.
What do you consider to be the best part of being a chef? The community, the connections we are able to make with such genuine people. That really pushes you to be better for your cliental and be your best self every day.
What is your favorite food? Great bread and great cheese, and my guilty pleasure is fresh pasta.
What is your greatest accomplishment? I am getting MARRIED this year to an amazing woman that has a big heart, infectious smile and is fiercely smart.
Meet Chef Julius Kalman Owner & Pastry Chef at Vidalia Restaurant and Wine Bar in Boone NC
What inspired you to become a chef? I just love food…
How would you describe your culinary style? I would say southern with a twist…I love Mexican food.
What is your favorite food? Steak is my favorite, but I love chocolate.
Tell us something that most people may not know about you. I speak Hungarian!
Meet Chef Bud Taylor Executive Chef & Owner at The Bistro Topsail in Surf City NC
What inspired you to become a chef? Growing up in a southern family, cooking with my grandfather.
What do you consider to be one of the best things about being a chef? The ability to bring people together over a meal and to introduce people to new ingredients!
When you are not in the kitchen, what do you like to do? Stand up paddle board, golf, farm/gardening, and photography.
What is something that people would be surprised to learn about you? I have a degree in Graphic Design & Minor in Marketing, not a culinary degree
Meet Chef Phillip Platoni Chef de Cuisine at Southminster Continued Care Retirement Community in Charlotte NC
What inspired you to become a chef? When I was young I would sit on the counter and watch my grandmother make fresh pasta – she would hang it all over the kitchen. She eventually would let me help and I’ve been in love ever since.
What do you consider to be the best thing about being a chef? Being able to be creative! Learning that there are not many rules you have to follow when creating a dish. Push the limits!
What is your favorite meal of the day? Breakfast, because it’s acceptable to eat it at all hours of the day and night.
If you couldn’t be a chef, what would you do? I would want to be a Forest Ranger in the Pacific Northwest.
Meet Chef Hannah Woociker Pastry Chef at Highlands Avenue in Hickory NC
What do you consider to be the best thing about being chef? The ability to help people be happy. There is no denying that there is solace in a warm bun or joy in a birthday cake. Outside of that, it is a limitless field ,always growing and changing with the people it provides for. I see that as an unending challenge, an exciting one .
What is your favorite meal of the day? Breakfast: Belgian waffles with fresh fruit over flowing and a drizzle of maple syrup and a side of bacon, please.
What is your favorite food? Definitely salad, any and all types; but my guilty pleasure is anything where peanut butter and chocolate unite.
Your greatest accomplishment? It would have to be having my name on a menu. I was more excited about that than getting my degree.
Meet Chef Lil Lacassagne Owner & Executive Chef at Saint Jacques at The Burke Manor Inn
What inspired you to become a chef? The Flavors & Scents from Provence, France, along with two grandmothers who were constantly cooking, all from homegrown and raised ingredients.
How would you describe your culinary style? French!
What is your favorite food? White fish, Mediterranean style. My guilty pleasure – Saucisson and Pissaladiere
How did you come to be a chef in North Carolina? I started my career in France, met my American wife on a cruise ship, which brought me to the U.S. in 1994. We moved to Raleigh in 1998 from Las Vegas and have since relocated to the Greensboro area.
Meet Chef Scott Ostrander Executive Chef at The Red Stag Grille at The Grand Bohemian Hotel in Asheville NC
What do you consider to be the best thing about being a chef? Everything resets every day
Describe your culinary style? I have always cooked very farm to table, even before that was a phrase. Whatever is local, fresh, and in season.
What is your favorite meal of the day? I like the late night snack after work the best, it’s gratifying after a long day
What is your favorite food and your guilty pleasure? My favorite food is Thai curry. Guilty pleasure is definitely donuts.
Meet Chef Thomas Card Executive Chef at The Counting House at 21c Museum Hotel in Durham, NC
How would you describe your culinary style? Modern American with a seafood influence .
What is your favorite food? I love sunchokes. My guilty pleasure is chocolate cake!
What is your greatest accomplishment? Working at two 5-star 5-Diamond hotels and achieving those accolades!
When you are not in the kitchen, what will we find you enjoying? Golfing, yard work, youth mentoring and playing with my kids
Meet Chef Adam Reed Executive Chef and Owner Sante Restaurant in Matthews NC
What do you consider to be the best thing about being a chef? I love the chance to create something with my hands on a daily basis and have guests who can enjoy the food immediately and be amazed. Also, I love being able to form relationships with farmers and food artisans who’s hard work and passion flow through to the food they create – they make my job easy.
How would you describe your culinary style? French/American cuisine with a focus on locally available product .
What is your favorite meal of the day? Family meal at the end of dinner shift with my staff. Finally able to relax and enjoy the company of the people who work so hard to make it all possible.
Now that you’ve met the NCRLA 2017 NC Chef Showdown Line up of chefs, plan to come and see what they bring to the table. Tickets for the 2017 NC Chef Showdown are priced at $125 per person. The event takes place on August 21, 2017 from 6-9 pm in Raleigh at 214 Martin Street /Market Place
Your ticket price includes unlimited tasting sized portions from all 16 of these talented chefs, tasting sized cocktails from six North Carolina distilleries represented by six of the state’s talented mixologists, a chance to vote in the evening’s People’s Choice awards, a selection of wine or beer, a gift bag to take home and an evening of fun, music and more! Don’t wait, Get Your Tickets Now!