Annual Competition Has Record Number of Competitors
In our largest Chef Showdown competition to date, nearly 100 competitors will face off in NCRLA’s annual culinary and mixology competition this summer. Presented by Got to Be NC, 76 chefs and 18 mixology teams will compete in five preliminary rounds that begin on May 8 in Wilkesboro at the Wilkes Community College Culinary School.
During the first rounds, competing chefs will prepare and serve dishes to a panel of three judges, all culinary experts working in North Carolina, who will critique them on their presentation, taste, and use of local ingredients from North Carolina.
In July, only 15 savory chefs and five pastry chefs will move on, based on the judge’s preliminary round scoring, to compete in one of two regional culinary rounds of competition. The same 20 chefs move on to cook at the Aug. 14 Grand Finale at the Pavilion at the Angus Barn.
In addition to the culinary competition, 18 bartenders have teamed up with a local distillery to compete in one of two regional rounds of mixology competition to be held in July in Winston-Salem. Each bartender will craft two cocktails and a mocktail. Only six teams will advance to the grand finale.
At the grand finale, the coveted titles of “NCRLA Chef of the Year,” “NCRLA Pastry Chef of the Year” and NCRLA Mixology and Bartender of the Year” will be crowned. The crowd at the finale also gets to select the People’s Choice Award honors, made possible this year by the N.C. Sweet Potato Commission.
“Chef Showdown has become the place to showcase the incredible talent of the North Carolina hospitality industry” said Lynn Minges, President & CEO of NCRLA.
“Our seventh annual event will feature more North Carolina chefs, bartenders and distilleries than any year prior. These innovative chefs will all work with local NC products; as will the incredibly creative bartenders who will craft cocktails and mocktails as they represent distilleries from across the state,” she added.
The 2023 NCRLA Chef Showdown preliminary and regional rounds of culinary competition and the regional rounds of mixology competition are scheduled as follows:
- May 8: Triad Preliminary Round at Wilkes Community College Culinary School, Wilkesboro
- May 15: Mountain Preliminary Round at AB Tech Community College Culinary School, Asheville
- May 22: Coast Preliminary Round at Carteret Community College Culinary School, Morehead City
- June 12: Triangle Preliminary Round at Wake Tech Community College School of Baking and Pastry Arts, Raleigh
- June 26: Metrolina Preliminary Round at Central Piedmont Community College Culinary School, Charlotte
- July 17: Western Regional Culinary Round at Central Piedmont Community College Culinary School, Charlotte
- July 24: Eastern NC Regional Culinary Round at Wake Tech Community College School of Baking and Pastry Arts, Raleigh
- July 10: Eastern Regional Mixology Competition at The Ginger Fox, Winston-Salem
- July 31: Western NC Mixology Competition at The Ginger Fox, Winston-Salem
- August 14: 2023 NCRLA Chef Showdown Grand Finale at The Pavilion at The Angus Barn, Raleigh
To view the competing chefs and pastry chefs, click here.
To view the competing bartenders and distilleries, click here.
Tickets for the grand finale event will go on sale in June. Stay tuned to the NCRLA Chef Showdown website and @NCRLAChefShowdown on social media to see who advances in the competition.
For more information, or to inquire about sponsorships or media requests, please contact event organizers Heidi Billotto or Inez Nicholson.
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 $30 billion in sales annually. To learn more information about NCRLA or its membership opportunities and cost-saving benefits, please visit www.ncrla.org.