Our acclaimed local chefs are no strangers to competition. But a searing battle of restaurant against restaurant is about to heat up.
Fire in the Triangle, part of the statewide Got To Be NC Competition Dining Series (competitiondining.com), runs June 11–July 24. The yearlong series pits North Carolina chefs against each other in a competition combining Iron Chef America-type rules with an NCAA basketball-style bracket. Fitting for us locals—we love college hoops and food!
Just as in Iron Chef, a secret ingredient is chosen for every battle. Sponsored in part by the N.C. Department of Agriculture, the competition requires that the secret ingredient be from North Carolina and used in every course, even dessert.
"The chefs are told [the secret ingredient] at high noon the day of the battle," says Susan Dosier, a media representative for the series. "Their cell phones are confiscated and they are given no lifelines, no outside contact. At 7 o'clock the food goes out. One time the secret ingredient was N.C. catfish, and they [made] cool Napoleons featuring catfish for dessert."
Dosier says the experience is a test in not only culinary talent but also organization and time constraints.
A twist in the series is that diners judge the dishes served. All 15 of the Triangle battles will be held at 1705 Prime in Raleigh, at $49 per person, $59 for the semifinals and final. Part of the proceeds support local firefighters.
"You think, if you've tried these restaurants, you'll know who made what," Dosier says. "But we have had [chefs'] husbands and wives think they are eating their spouse's food, and no, they were not."
Fire in the Triangle features 16 local chefs from restaurants including Four Square, Jujube, Fork and Barrel, Midtown Grille, Market, Mia Francesca, Flights and The Oxford. For the full list of competitors, the dining schedule and reservations, visit the series' website.
This afternoon at 4 and 5 p.m., two Farmer's Daughter (farmersdaughterbrand.com) kimchi workshops at the Carrboro Farmers' Market (carrborofarmersmarket.com) kick off a series of canning demonstrations to benefit its Market Match program. Funds from the program will give SNAP customers (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly known as food stamps) matched "market dollars" for their EBT card for use at the market, providing a larger source of fresh, local food.
A variety of local food canning experts will be hosting the DIY series throughout the 2012 season. Classes cover pickling, jams, syrups, spreads, fermentation, home pressed juices and more. Email firstname.lastname@example.org to sign up or to receive updates on upcoming workshops. —Victoria Bouloubasis
Culinary historian Michael W. Twitty brings his Southern Discomfort Tour to Flyleaf Books in Chapel Hill Thursday, June 7, at 6:30 p.m. "Them Old Slavery Foods": Liberating a Cuisine in Chains in Antebellum North Carolina follows his journey through the Old South to discover the foods and foodways of enslaved North Carolinians, tracing the deep roots of this cuisine from West Africa, Central Africa and the Caribbean to North Carolina, where those traditions endure today. —Lisa Sorg
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