The Got to Be NC Competition Dining Series, a single-elimination tournament highlighting the best of the Carolina’s food, agriculture and culinary talent applauds Chef Ryan Conklin of UNC REX Healthcare in Raleigh on his victory in the Battle of Champions. Conklin is one of 70 top chefs from across North and South Carolina who competed throughout the year, first taking home a regional win in the Triangle, and now earning the ultimate title.
Hosted Saturday, Oct. 31 at the Renaissance Hotel in Raleigh’s North Hills shopping center, Conklin won the championship battle in front of a sold out crowd, overcoming Chef Brent Martin of The Summit Room in Charlotte. The dinner included two featured ingredients: Jarrett Bay oysters and Outer Banks SeaSalt. Additionally, the chefs started their final battle day shopping. The two teams were each allotted $500 to spend at the Got to Be NC State Farmers Market and they had to use at least one local produce item in every course.
“It was an exciting and long few days of back-to-back battles to get to the finale, which we knew would be the most challenging event of them all, ” said Chef Conklin. “We never expected a day full of shucking nearly 700 oysters, which definitely cut into our cooking time, but it was a true test of our team’s culinary talents and a perfect fit for competitive spirit of the tournament. I couldn’t be prouder that we came out on top, showing not just the Triangle, but both states that we’re more than just hospital food.”
One of the crowd favorites of the night, and Conklin’s highest scoring dish of the battle, was the second course. The dish included cornmeal fried Jarrett Bay oyster, slow roasted tomatoes, rosemary chimichurri, pan fried NC grouper, cauliflower puree, Outer Banks SeaSalt, black truffle, and sorrel and langoustine salad (see complete scores and dishes).
“Chef Ryan Conklin consistently impressed diners with high-scoring dishes throughout his regional series and these championship events, pulling out unique flavor combinations and impeccable team execution in every battle,” said Jimmy Crippen, Competition Dining Series founder and host. “His passion for cooking and competitive drive is a perfect representation of this competition and his performance in the championship battle certainly earned him the big win. We are honored to call him our 2015 champion.”
As part of Chef Conklin’s victory, he not only gets bragging rights, but also took home the grand prize of $4,000 cash, two handmade chef knives by Ironman Forge and a trip to the Culinary Institute of America at Greystone in Napa Valley, California, compliments of Kikkoman and the Pro Chef Program.
Continued Conklin, “I felt confident about how the day went in large part to my two teammates, Chef Steve Pexton and Collin Jennings. Both chefs have been extremely instrumental in every battle, from our regional series to this championship. I wouldn’t be where I am in this competition without either of them.”
In every Competition Dining Series dinner throughout the year, two chef teams battle it out preparing three courses each centered on a featured regional ingredient that is revealed the morning of the event. Ticketed guests savor a full-service, six-course meal without knowing which chef prepared which dishes. Unlike any other cooking competition, attendees vote on each course using a free app, and ultimately help determine who moves on to the next battle round and who goes home. Learn more at www.competitiondining.com.
About The Got to Be NC Competition Dining Series
The Got to Be NC Competition Dining Series has hosted annual chef tournaments throughout North Carolina for years with the goal of celebrating local products and agriculture, and showcasing the culinary ingenuity and talent across the state. It is sponsored by the NC Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services, Pate Dawson-Southern Foods, Certified Angus Beef®, Pepsi Bottling Ventures, ALSCO, NC Egg Association, Hits Technology and Joyce Farms. For the first time ever, Competition Dining expanded outside North Carolina in 2015 with a series in Greenville, South Carolina. For more information, visit www.competitiondining.com or get in on the conversation at www.facebook.com/competitiondining and @CompDiningNC on Twitter or Instagram.