Calling all North Carolina Chefs, Pastry Chefs, Mixologists and Distilleries.
It’s time to apply to compete in the 2024 NCRLA Chef Showdown
The State’s Largest Culinary and Mixology Competition
presented by Got to Be NC
Applications are now being accepted for the 2024 NCRLA Chef Showdown competition.
Now, in its eighth electrifying season, this prestigious culinary and cocktail competition is the only statewide contest in which the North Carolina Restaurant & Lodging Association names the NCRLA Chef of the Year, NCRLA Pastry Chef of the Year, and NCRLA Mixologist and Distillery
of the Year. Plus, new this year, a separate award for the 2024 NCRLA Best Mocktail of the Year
Do you have what it takes to win the title and top honors in 2024? Apply now!
Don’t Wait…Application period closes March 5, 2024
Thanks to Our Sponsors!
The North Carolina Restaurant and Lodging Association proudly announces the annual
NCRLA Chef Showdown, North Carolina’s premiere culinary and mixology competition.
This state-wide competition is designed to promote and spotlight the talent of chefs, pastry chefs, and mixologists across North Carolina.
Presented by Got To Be NC, the NC Department of Agriculture, the Chef Showdown features culinary and mixology competitors who will showcase North Carolina proteins, produce and products on the competition plates and in the craft cocktails & mocktails they present to each panel of expert judges.
“We are proud to see 2024 mark the eighth year for our annual Chef Showdown series. With this competition, the NCRLA continues to showcase the incredible talent of our chefs, pastry chefs, bartenders, and distilleries from across the state,” says Lynn Minges, president and CEO. “It’s always exciting to start a new season of competition. To see the energy, creativity, and passion of all of the competitors who will feature local North Carolina ingredients as they compete, is inspiring and delicious, too.”
For these culinary and mixology competitors, it’s all about keeping it local and taking it over the top.
At stake, the coveted titles of NCRLA Chef of the Year, NCRLA Pastry Chef of the Year, NCRLA Bartender of the Year and the NCRLA Distillery of the Year, to be awarded at the competition’s Grand Finale on August 26, 2024, at Bay 7 at the American Tobacco District in Durham, NC.
Top-title winners will also go on to become members of the prestigious 2024-2025 GotToBeNC team of culinary and beverage ambassadors.
The 2024 Action Starts Here
We’ll kick off our 2024 NCRLA Chef Showdown series with five individual preliminary rounds of culinary competition and two preliminary rounds of mixology competition; followed by two semi-final regional rounds of culinary competition and two two semi-final regional rounds of mixology competition.
NEW FOR 2024 – As we have done in years past, after the application portal closes, each chef invited to compete in 2024 will participate in one of five preliminary rounds of competition.
Then, to widen the paying field a bit, after the preliminary rounds of competition take place; this year, based on the preliminary round judges scores and notes, 26 chefs ( 18 chefs making savory plates and 8 pastry chefs) will become 2024 Chef Showdown semi finalists and will receive the honor of being invited to compete in one of two regional rounds of competition. Based on their regional round scores, only 20 of these chefs – 15 savory chefs and five pastry chefs – will be finalists and as such, will be invited to move on to compete in the 2024 NCRLA Grand Finale.
Likewise, teams of NC Mixologists and distilleries apply to compete in 2024. Once the application portal is closed, invited teams will participate in one of two preliminary rounds of mixology competition.
Then, based on judges scores and notes from the preliminary rounds of competition, 10 teams of bartenders and distilleries will be invited to move on to the semi-final regional rounds of mixology competition. The top scoring six semi-finalists will be invited to stir and shake it up at the 2024 NCRLA Grand Finale.
Each of the preliminary and regional rounds of competition are private events open only to competitors, judges, media, and invited guests. The public is invited to follow along on the NCRLA Chef Showdown social media feeds on Facebook, Instagram, X, and TikTok
The NCRLA is proud to compete at some of North Carolina’s finest community college culinary schools throughout this competition, each one serving to teach and inspire the North Carolina hospitality industry of tomorrow.
The 2024 NCRLA Chef Showdown culinary and mixology competition calendar is as follows:
- March 25 – Culinary Preliminary Round – For the Mountain region at AB Tech Community College Culinary School in Asheville
- April 8 – Mixology Preliminary Round – For Eastern NC – In Raleigh, Location TBD
- April 22 Culinary Preliminary Round – At the Coast at Carteret Community College Culinary School in Morehead City
- April 29 – Mixology Preliminary Round – For Western NC at Broad Branch Distillery in Winston-Salem NC
- May 6 – Culinary Preliminary Round – For the Triad at Wilkes Community College Culinary School, Wilkesboro
- May 13 – Culinary Preliminary Round – In Metrolina at Central Piedmont Community College Culinary School in Charlotte
- June 10 – Culinary Preliminary Round – In the Triangle at Wake Tech Community College School of Baking and Pastry Arts in Raleigh
- June 17 – Mixology Semi-Final Regional Round – For Western NC at Merle’s Cocktail Bar in Wilkesboro
- July 1 – Mixology Semi-Final Regional Round – For Eastern NC at Native Fine Diner in Greenville
- July 15 – Culinary Semi-Final Regional Round- For Western NC at Central Piedmont Community College Culinary School in Charlotte
- July 29 – Culinary Semi-Final Regional Round – For Eastern NC at Wake Tech Community College School of Baking and Pastry Arts in Raleigh
- August 26 – 2024 NCRLA Chef Showdown Grand Finale at Bay 7 at the American Tobacco District in Durham, NC
The 2024 Undeniably Dairy Awards:
Also a part of the 2024 competition, four “Undeniably Dairy Awards” will be awarded at the Chef Showdown Grand Finale to the chef, pastry chef and bartender who best showcased the use of NC dairy products in the savory plates, the desserts and in cocktails and mocktails, they present to judges during the season. Competitors are not required to use dairy products in their competition dishes and cocktails, but if they do, they are eligible to be considered for one of these four awards to be presented by The Dairy Alliance to be announced in early August 2024.
2024 People’s Choice Awards
After all the 2024 NCRLA Chef Showdown preliminary and semi-final regional rounds of culinary and mixology competition have come and gone, 15 chefs creating savory plates, 5 pastry chefs and 6 six mixologists, each representing a partner NC Distillery, will move on to cook for the public at the August 26 NCRLA Chef Showdown Grand Finale. There they also have a chance at People’s Choice Award honors for Best Savory Dish, Best Dessert, Best Cocktail and Best Mocktail.
The North Carolina Restaurant & Lodging Association (NCRLA) NCRLA is the driving force behind the state’s $30 billion hospitality industry. The mission is to Protect, Educate, and Promote the North Carolina hospitality industry. To learn more information about NCRLA or its membership opportunities and cost-saving benefits, please visit www.ncrla.org.
Let’s Be Social
Follow the preliminary and regional round action and see each of the dishes and cocktails created this year on the NCRLA Chef Showdown social media feeds.