Of course, the best of the evening is getting to eat and judge the three courses prepared by each chef (six in total). Each dish is served without disclosing by whom it was prepared. The audience then votes via a mobile application on a series of attributes including presentation, aroma, flavor (overall), flavor (secret ingredient), execution, creativity, use of secret ingredient, and accompaniments. To keep the scoring somewhat balanced, the competition uses a weighted scoring system of pros (culinary professionals) and joes (the rest of the audience). Scores are revealed at the end of the night and the winning team moves onto the next round.
To date, I have attended three competition dining events. The most recent one was between Chef Clark Barlowe of Heirloom Restaurant and Chef Mike Suppa of Vivace and was held at the Bonterra Dining and Wine Room.
Each dinner begins with bread from Cary's La Farm Bakery. The bread is shipped specially from the Cary, NC, bakery to the competition location and is some of the best bread I have had outside of France, thanks to the skill and talent of its Master Baker, Lionel Vatinet.
Certified Angus Beef Strip Loin of Beef Tartar, Harissa Spiced Cactus Creek Coffee Old Mill of Guilford Grits Cake, Cauliflower Puree, Marcona Almond-Black Mountain Chocolate-Coca Nib Vinaigrette
Brown Butter Poached NC Oysters, Cocoa-Coffee Roasted Leek, Apple Wood Smoked Bacon, Crawfish, Potato, Cucumber, Ran-Lew Dairy Whey-Cactus Creek Peruvian Chopicafé Coffee-Black Mountain Chocolate Cocoa Nib Broth
Seared Maple Leaf Farms Breast of Duck, Braised Duck Crepe, Lavender-Carrot Puree, Spiced Cactus Creek Brazilian Cerrado Coffee Syrup
Heritage Cheshire Pork Pork Caul Fat-Cactus Creek Brazilian Coffee and Black Mountain Chocolate Cocoa Roasted Lamb Loin, Radish, Oyster Mushroom, Farro Verde, Foie Gras-Cocoa Nib Vinaigrette, Chocolate Offal Jus
Lemon Curd, Flaky Pie Dough Tuille, Italian Meringue, Black Mountain Chocolate Cocoa Nibs, Cactus Creek Coffee Brazilian Roast Coffee Marinated Raspberries
Cactus Creek Coffee Tanzanian Peaberry - Black Mountain Chocolate Coca Nib Cake, Cocoa Nib-Coffee-Hickory Smoked Berries, Chocolate Ganache, Vanilla Bean Mascarpone
Ultimately, Chef Mike Suppa won the evening's competition and went on to compete against Chef Neil Bratton from Local Dish.
As the evening reached an end, we rejoiced at all the great food we had eaten and the fun we had meeting new people and taking part in such a fun culinary competition. Looking forward to the next season of Competition Dining's Fire in the City!