Chef Jason Cunningham Wins his First Round of Got To Be NC
The statewide chef competition highlighting the best of North Carolina’s food, agriculture and culinary talent, the Got To Be NC Competition Dining Series: Fire In the Triangle, is underway. Participating chefs include executive chef Jason Cunningham of the Washington Duke Inn & Golf Club who won his competition against Brian Battistella and his team from Battistella’s. Chef Jason Cunningham and his team will battle it out again on July 29 with the July 8 winner: John Childers from Herons at Umstead Hotel and Spa. Hosted at 1705 Prime at 1705 East Millbrook Road in Raleigh, the competitive dinner series began July 8 and concludes on August 19.
Each evening, two restaurants “battle” it out side-by-side in a single elimination format. Guests savor a six-course menu (three dishes from each chef without knowing whose food they’re tasting) created around a “featured” ingredient. For each dinner, the ingredient will come from a North Carolina farmer or artisan producer. The featured ingredient is revealed to the chefs only an hour before they start cooking, and it must be used in each of the three courses—Videri Chocolate was the secret ingredient presented to Cunningham and his team and their competition. The Washington Duke Inn & Golf Club team—executive chef Jason Cunningham, sous-chef Murray Healy, and lead cook Brad Meachum—won over diners and judges with their three courses which included Chocolate Mystery Brewery’s Queen Anne’s Revenge Braised Pork Belly, Sweet Potato Confit, Heirloom Tomato Jam with a Chocolate BBQ Sauce; Chocolate Espresso Lamb Loin Chocolate Cipollini Onion, Asian Pear and Fennel Slaw drizzled with Chocolate Pinot Noir Bing Cherry Syrup; and Anise Scented Flourless Chocolate Torte with Caramelized Cashew, Orange Sabayon and Pomegranate—earning the cumulative highest score. In each competition paying guests savor each course in a blind tasting alongside a panel of culinary and celebrity judges in each competition and then rate it to determine who moves on to the next round and who goes home—it’s the only contest where the diners get to judge. At stake in each series is a grand prize of $2,000, a handmade chef knife by Ironman Forge in Charlotte, and the coveted “Red Chef Jacket.” The runner-up receives $500.
In its second year, the mission of Got To Be NC Competition Dining, which is a movement of chefs, farmers, and diners, is to connect and celebrate this community through a dynamic, entertaining experience. This year’s sponsors include the North Carolina Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services, Pate Dawson-Southern Foods, Our State magazine, Certified Angus Beef, Pepsi Bottling Ventures and Swisher Hygiene.
The match-ups (and winners to date) for the second year of this dynamic and entertaining event include each chef heading a team of three:
July 8 Herons at the Umstead Hotel and Spa, Cary (John Childers) vs. Capital Club 16, Raleigh (Jake Wolf)
Winner: Herons at the Umstead Hotel and Spa, Cary, (John Childers)
July 9 Washington Duke Inn & Golf Club, Durham (Jason Cunningham) vs. Battistella’s, Raleigh (Brian Battistella)
Winner: Washington Duke Inn & Golf Club, Durham (Jason Cunningham)
July 10 Little Hen, Apex (Regan Stachler) vs. 518 West, Raleigh (Serge Falcoz-Vigne)
Winner: 518 West, Raleigh (Serge Falcoz-Vigne)
July 15 Flights at the Renaissance Raleigh North Hills Hotel, Raleigh (Dean Thompson) vs. The Carolina Inn, Chapel Hill (James Clark)
July 16 Midtown Grille, Raleigh (Scott James) vs. La Residence Restaurant & Bar, Chapel Hill (Lemar Farrington)
July 17 The Oxford, Raleigh (Chris Hill) vs. Bia Restaurant, Raleigh (Dan Yeager)
July 22 Market Restaurant, Raleigh (Chad McIntyre) vs. New Southern Kitchen, Whiteville (Sokun Slama)
July 23 Mandolin, Raleigh (Sean Fowler) vs. Jimmy V’s, Cary (Steve Zanini)
July 29 Battle between winner of July 8 and July 9: Herons at the Umstead Hotel and Spa, Cary (John Childers) vs. Washington Duke Inn & Golf Club, Durham (Jason Cunningham)
July 30 Battle between winner of July 10 and July 15: 518 West, Raleigh (Serge Falcoz-Vigne) vs. T.B.D.
August 5 Battle between winner of July 16 and July 17
August 6 Battle between winner of July 22 and July 23 (quarterfinals)
August 12 Battle between winner of July 29 and July 30 (quarterfinals)
August 13 Battle between winner of August 5 and August 6 (semifinals)
August 19 Battle between winner of August 12 and August 13 (finals)