RALEIGH, N.C. (August 10, 2021) – The North Carolina Restaurant & Lodging Association (NCRLA), the driving force behind North Carolina’s $27.3 billion restaurant, foodservice, and lodging industries, announced the winners of the fifth annual NCRLA Chef Showdown on Monday, Aug. 9 at Bay 7 in Durham, NC.
Saif Rahman of Vidrio won the coveted NCRLA Chef of the Year award, Tiesha Whittaker of Buttermilk Boutique earned NCRLA Pastry Chef of the Year, and Colleen Hughes representing Sutler’s Spirits Co. took home the NCRLA Mixologist & Distillery of the Year award.
Twenty chefs and six mixologists from across North Carolina competed for the titles, judged in front of a panel of industry experts based on the presentation and taste of the dish as well as the best use and number of local North Carolina ingredients on each plate. Attendees, who were treated to tasting-sized portions of the savory dishes, desserts, and cocktails, also voted for their favorites to determine the People’s Choice award winners for Chef, Pastry Chef, and Mixologist.
Prior to the finale, four preliminary rounds were held to narrow the field of chefs from 48 to 20. The preliminary rounds were hosted in Morehead City, Charlotte, Winston-Salem, and Raleigh. Then, the remaining 20 chefs competed in two regional rounds hosted in Charlotte and Raleigh.
“We were all more than ready to celebrate the amazing culinary talent that exists across North Carolina. The energy, creativity, and passion of these individuals is inspiring for our industry, both today and into the future too, as we look toward brighter days ahead,” said Lynn Minges, President & CEO of the North Carolina Restaurant & Lodging Association.
NCRLA Chef of the Year: Saif Rahman, Vidrio, Raleigh
NCRLA Pastry Chef of the Year: Tiesha Whittaker, Buttermilk Boutique, Clayton
NCRLA Mixologist & Distillery of the Year: Colleen Hughes representing Sutler’s Spirits Co.
People’s Choice Savory: Matthew Rivers, Timberlake’s Restaurant at Chetola Mountain Resort, Blowing Rock
People’s Choice Pastry: Savanna Brodar, Kimpton Tryon Park Hotel, Charlotte
People’s Choice Specialty Cocktail: David Schmidt representing The Hackney Distillery
Runner-up for Chef of the Year: Chayil Johnson, Community Manners Café, Charlotte
Runner-up for Pastry Chef of the Year: Gerald Hawkins Jr., Gaston Country Club, Gastonia
A special thanks to presenting sponsor Got to Be NC Agriculture and Chef Sponsor US Foods.
The North Carolina Restaurant & Lodging Association (NCRLA) serves to advance and protect the interests of more than 20,000 businesses that employ 11 percent of the state’s workforce and generate more than $27.3 billion in sales annually. To learn more information about NCRLA or its membership opportunities and cost-saving benefits, please visit www.ncrla.org.