Monday, November 2, 2015

Recap: Got to be NC Competition Dining - Battle of Champions

This past Saturday, the two remaining chefs in the Got To Be NC Competition Dining Series battled it out in the Battle of Champions. It was a tight race between Chef Brent Martin of The Summit Room in Charlotte, and Chef Ryan Conklin of REX Healthcare in Raleigh.

The chefs had to work with two very intriguing featured ingredients: Jarrett Bay Oysters and Outer Banks Sea Salt! What I would have given for a plate full of fried oysters, or a bowl of salted caramel...but alas, the photos and descriptions from Competition Dining's Facebook page will have to suffice! And they are mouthwatering for sure! (Thanks to the Competition Dining team for the photos I've used in this post, too!)

Course 1: Chef Martin's Smoked Jarrett Bay Oyster, Lump Crab and NC White Shrimp Ragout, Low Country Grits, Tasso Ham and Chile Oil is an inventive play on Shrimp & Grits!
Course 1
Course 2: Chef Conklin had the highest scoring dish of the night: a Cornmeal-fried Jarrett Bay Oyster with slow-roasted Tomatoes and Rosemary Chimichurri was alongside pan-fried NC Grouper, Cauliflower puree sprinkled with OBX Sea Salt, and a Black Truffle, Sorrel and Langoustine salad.
Course 2
Course 3: Chef Martin's Maple Leaf Farms Duck Rillette was served with Jarrett Bay Oysters Two Ways: Pickled and on the half shell with Shallot Mignonette, Compressed Bread & Butter Pickles, Field Pea Succotash, Red Pepper Syrup, Caper Berry, OBX Sea Salt and a Ran-Lew Dairy Buttermilk Cracker.
Course 3
Course 4: Chef Conklin's Poached Jarrett Bay Oyster Duo sounds divine: Carolina Pork BBQ with a Celery Seed Cabbage Salad and Silver Queen Corn Chowchow; and a White Sweet Potato with Kale and Bacon Colcannon, sprinkled with OBX Sea Salt and Guinness Melted Leeks with a Parsnip Butter Sauce.
Course 4
Course 5: It's like Chef Martin is speaking right to me with his Roasted Pumpkin Cake with Spiced Marcona Almond Streusel, Cream Cheese Icing, OBX Sea Salt Caramel, Candied Pepitas, Cinnamon Shards and Pumpkin Gel. YUMMERS!
Course 5
Course 6: As if the next dessert couldn't sound any better, Chef Conklin comes out of nowhere with his Tres Leche Carrot Cake topped with a Saffron Mascarpone, Cloister Honey Frozen Custard, J&J Farms Apple Butter, OBX Sea Salt-Salted NC Strawberries, with a High Rock Farms Chestnut Flour Tuile. I'll have 4, please.
Course 6
It was finally the moment we've been working towards since January. And the winner of the Battle of Champions is...Chef Ryan Conklin! His score of 29.694 to Chef Martin's 27.088 secured him the title of champion. If you haven't been to a battle, what are you waiting for? See you next year, foodies! We'll start all over again with more hopeful chefs all across the region!

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