Thursday, November 27, 2014

Charlotte's Jon Fortes wins dining competition title

Chef Jon Fortes, representing Mimosa Grill (though he's now at Fort Mill's Flipside Cafe with spouse and co-owner/chef Amy), won the statewide final of the Got to Be NC Competition Dining Series on Nov. 22.

Fortes, who had won the Charlotte-based "Fire in the City" leg of the series, faced chef Dean Thompson of Flights in Raleigh, who had topped the "Fire in the Triangle" leg, in the final, held in Raleigh.

The competition, which began with 64 chefs in five regions, worked like this: Two chefs, with accompanying help, cooked three courses each in head-to-head competition, using a surprise N.C. ingredient that was announced just before beginning each event. Winners advanced to finals in each region; those then faced each other. Organizers chose the chefs and seeded the brackets. Culinary professionals and diners who bought tickets helped judge each event, scoring each dish as the night progressed.

The surprise ingredients Nov. 22 were Apple Mill apple butter, caviar from Atlantic Caviar and Sturgeon Company, and Biltmore Winery's Sparkling Blanc de Blanc. Fortes' highest scoring dish (above) was his Duo of Carolina Pork: apple butter pork rillette and sparkling-wine-braised pork belly with goat cheese, andouille, leek and mushroom bread pudding, and sparkling wine and apple butter squash sauce. Highest scoring dish of the night was Thompson's carrot and apple butter cake with caramelized white chocolate and apple butter streusel, sparkling wine icing, apple butter mousse, sparkling wine and caviar salted caramel, sparkling wine apple chip, candied walnuts and apple-butter-brandy frozen custard (below).

Final score: Fortes, 27.13310185 to 25.90297158. Fortes' teammate Thomas Marlow is now executive chef at Mimosa, while alternating members DJ Ivey and Joe Cornett, are also still with Mimosa.

“Dean Thompson is a phenomenal chef and competitor, so it was clear that we needed to execute at a high level to be able to take home the title,” Fortes said in a press release.

The 2015 series will begin in January with the Triangle series, followed by Charlotte, then the Triad, hosted for the first time in Winston-Salem. Tickets and more info: