Thursday, July 17, 2014

Fire in the City competition gets cooking

The chefs that will go head-to-head in Fire in the City – the Charlotte branch of the Got to Be NC competition dining series – were just announced: 16 interesting choices that will do battle in eight initial dinners.

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):

Aug. 18: Luca Annunziata of Passion8 vs. Clark Barlowe of Heirloom.

Aug. 19: Tom Dyrness of Mama Ricotta’s vs. Brian Mottola (no, not chef-owner Emeril Lagasse) of e2 Emeril’s Eatery.

Aug. 20: David Feimster (no, not chef-owner Rocco Whalen) of Fahrenheit vs. David Quintana of Southminster (a retirement community, not a restaurant).

Aug. 25: David Moore of Gallery vs. Ben Philpott of Block & Grinder.

Aug. 26: Brent Martin of The Summit Room vs. Jon Spencer of Epic Chophouse and Chillfire Bar & Grill.

Aug. 27: Chris Coleman of The Asbury (at the Dunhill) vs. Brian Williams of Upstream.

Sept. 2: Nicolas Daniels of The Wooden Vine vs. Paul Ketterhagen of Carpe Diem.

Sept. 3: Jon Fortes of Mimosa Grill (last year’s City champ) vs. David Sullivan of Fish Market Bar and Grill.

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