Photos: Chef’s compete in NC Competition Dining Series for the right to represent Wilmington

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WILMINGTON — One Wilmington culinary team is readying for a statewide, “Iron Chef” style challenge that will pit their locally-sourced meals against those of other chefs.

The “Got to Be NC Competition Dining Series” ended in its third and final round in Wilmington on Thursday with a culinary battle between Team Ceviche’s and Team Pine Valley Market.

Overall, four teams consisting of local chefs took part in the three-day competition; their challenge was to create and deliver unique meals inspired by featured ingredients to be named area champion.

All of the ingredients used by the chefs came from a North Carolina farmer or artisan producer, and were revealed to competing chefs just one hour before they begin to cook. The finale of the three-on-three culinary battle included a six-course meal that featured Goodnight Brother’s thin sliced country ham and Scott Farms white sweet potatoes.

When the doors opened Thursday evening at Bluewater Grill in Wrightsville Beach, guests arrived to a water-front view of the Intracoastal Waterway and an open dining room. Paying guests savored the six-course menu by “blind tasting” alongside a panel of culinary and celebrity judges. In the end, it was the panel’s decision which team would compete in the statewide chef’s challenge in November.

Chefs from Team Pine Valley Market included, Executive Chef/Manager Chris McCauley from Pine Valley Market; Chef Paul Smith from Pine Valley Market; and Pastry Chef Samantha Smith from Sugar Island. Members of Team Ceviche’s included Executive Chef Sam Cahoon and Sous Chefs Edson Juarez and Eric Smith.

The chefs teams worked separately throughout the day to create, prep and cook their menus. Then the two teams worked together in the kitchen to plate all six courses for their guests.

The victors of this year’s competition: Team Ceviche’s. The winning chef team from Wilmington will now move on to the battle against team champions of other culinary competitions held in Winston-Salem, Raleigh, Greensboro, and Charlotte.

“I couldn’t have done it without my guys,” Chef Cahoon said of his team’s victory.

Along with bragging rights and a place in the five-day “Battle of Champions” in Raleigh, the winning chefs get $2,000 in cash and prizes, the “coveted” red chef’s coat, a cookbook from Lionel Vatinet LaFarm Bakery in Cary and forged knives from Steve Watkins of Ironman Forge in Charlotte.

“It was a lot of fun. This is … my first year doing it, my sous chef’s second time doing it,” McClauley said. “We had a really good time.”

Competition dining champions in Wilmington. (From left) Joe Sanderson, Director of Marketing for the N.C. Department of Agriculture, Executive Chef Sam Cahoon and Sous Chefs Edson Juarez and Eric Smith.
This year’s competition dining champions in Wilmington. (From left) Joe Sanderson, Director of Marketing for the N.C. Department of Agriculture, Sous Chefs Edson Juarez, Executive Chef Sam Cahoon, Sous Chefs Eric Smith and Competition Dining Series founder and host Jimmy Crippen. (Photo courtesy of the Got to be NC Competition Dining Series.)

Chef McCauley and his team created courses one, four and five. While Cahoon and his team cooked Thursday night’s second, third, and sixth course.

“It was a really great experience. I was really excited to get back … we didn’t make it all the way into the finals last year. So to get in the finals this year is really rewarding,” Cahoon said.

The meals were judge on various criteria such as,  presentation, flavor, execution, creativity and how well it featured the ingredient. Culinary judges had their own set, including degree of difficulty, construction and balance.

(Visit Port City Daily’s Twitter feed for tweets from the competition)

The Competition Dining Series is s sponsored by the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, Pate Dawson-Southern Foods, Certified Angus Beef and other partners throughout the state. For this year’s chef team line-up and to register a seat in the “Battle of the Champions” visit the Got to Be NC Competition Dining Series website. You can also follow the competition series on Twitter and Facebook.

What’s in a meal?

The following is a list of appetizers, main course and desserts served by each team during Thursday night’s finale of the Got to Be NC Competition Dining Series:

Course 1: Chimichurri Roasted Golden Beets, Scott Farms White Sweet Potato Cream, Crispy Goodnight Brothers Country Ham, Goat Lady Dairy Goat Cheese, Lacquered Pecans (Team Pine Valley Market)

Course 2: Soft Egg with Scott Farms White Sweet Potato BBQ, Goodnight Brothers Country Ham and White Sweet Potato Hash, Shaved Brussels Sprouts, Warm Country Ham and Black Pepper Vinaigrette, Citrus Scallion Curls (Team Ceviche’s)

Course 3: Goodnight Brothers Country Ham and Bourbon Barrel Black Pepper Crusted NC Tuna, Pineapple Curry, Scott Farms White Sweet Potato-Ginger Cake, Local Arugula-Carrot Escabeche, Sweet Potato Chips (Team Ceviche’s)

Course 4: Crispy Pork Cutlet, Scott Farms White Sweet Potato and Collard Green Hash, Goodnight Brothers Country Ham Consomme, Candied Collard Stem Relish (Team Pine Valley Market)

Course 5: Scott Farms White Sweet Potato Tart, Goodnight Brothers Country Ham Crust, Saigon Cinnamon Cream, Cake Crumb Crusted Chocolate-Dipped Goodnight Brothers Country Ham, Cinnamon Meringue Hazelnuts (Team Pine Valley Market)

Course 6: Crispy Scott Farms White Sweet Potato Turnover, Goodnight Brothers Country Ham Jam, Lavender Whipped Cream, Cloister Honey Bourbon Honey Gastrique (Team Ceviche’s)

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