Each pair of chefs finds out, one hour before actually cooking, what N.C. ingredient they will need to feature for that night, and must prepare three courses using it. Diners get to try the six courses but don’t know who cooked what. They rate the dishes, as do judges, and one chef advances. A total of 15 “dinner experiences,” in four rounds, yields one winner, who goes on to compete in November against the regional winners from Fire on the Rock (the Asheville area), on the Dock (around Wilmington), in the Triangle (Raleigh) and in the Triad (Greensboro).
Chefs apply and were chosen by the organizers, based on “culinary talent, menu development experience, training, personality, proven creativity and more.” Preliminary matchups were based on last year's rankings, according to founder Jimmy Crippen.
The initial Charlotte battles (with bios, here):
The whole schedule’s set. Quarterfinals pit the first two winners Sept. 8, the next Sept. 9, the next Sept. 15, the last Sept. 16. Semifinals (which could pit two Harper’s Group chefs against each other) are Sept. 22 and Sept. 23, and the final will be Sept. 29.
Tickets to dinners, all at Bonterra (1829 Cleveland Ave. in Dilworth), are available now online at www.competitiondining.com/events/fire-in-the-city.