Competition Dining: Final Fire

This post is going to be short & sweet. For all of you waiting to here more about my trip to Paris, you'll have to wait just a *little* bit longer. Tonight, it's all about the last installments of Competition Dining's Final Fire dinners.

I was asked to be a guest judge the 2nd of 3 nights of head-to-head culinary combat between Chef Ryan Payne of Weathervane in Chapel Hill and Chef Andy Hopper of Chefs 105 in Morehead City. The previous night, Chef Michael Foreman of Bistro Roca in Blowing Rock reigned supreme over chef George Neal of 1618 in Greensboro. As always, I always feel honored and blessed to be a part of this groundbreaking competition and last night was no exception. The judges' scores were weighted 70% against 150+ diners' scores of 30%. A lot was riding on our palates!

I *did* bring a little Paris with me and I opened a bottle of red wine I picked up at the Franprix across the street from my hotel.

My favorite dishes of the night, that I'd order again with no hesitation:

Fish & Chips Curry Tempura Black Drum
with Tasso and Sweet Potato Risotto, Vanilla-Bourbon Buerre Blanc, Watercress Emulsion & Sweet Potato Chips from Chef Hopper

Balsamic-Braised Pistachio-Dusted Brisket
with Creamy Sweet Potato Puree, Roasted Root Vegetables, Braised Collards, Red Currant Veal Sauce & Purple Potato Powder from Chef Hopper

Duo 1) Mascarpone & Sweet Potato Cheesecake
with Pecan Crust, Coconut Sweet Potato Crème Anglaise & Torched Meringue
2) Stackhouse Goat Cheese Sweet Potato &  Golden Raisin Compote
with Pomegranate-Cheerwine Molasses & Crispy Ginger from Chef Hopper

Japanese Sweet Potato Twinkie
with Sweet Potato Buttercream, Purple Sweet Potato Ice Cream & Praline Brittle from Chef Payne
In the end, it was the House of Chef Payne that won. Congratulations, Chef. I can't wait to eat what you and Chef Michael Foreman of Bistro Roca prepare.

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About the author

Nikki Miller-Ka

Nikki Miller-Ka

Ms. Miller-Ka is a classically trained chef with a BA in English from East Carolina University and a Culinary Arts Associate Degree from Le Cordon Bleu-Miami.

Formerly, she’s worked as a researcher, an editorial assistant, reporter and guest blogger for various publications and outlets in the Southeast. She has also worked as a catering chef, a pastry chef, a butcher, a baker, and a biscuit-maker. Presently, she is a food editor, freelance food writer, and a tour guide for Taste Carolina Gourmet Food Tours.

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