Fong will advance to the Final Fire series in November in Raleigh
WILMINGTON, N.C.— (April 11, 2013) The heat was on April 3 as two of Wilmington’s premier chefs battled it out during the “Got To Be N.C.” Competition Dining Series Fire on the Dock finals. Chef Gerry Fong and his team from Persimmons took home the bragging rights after six fierce courses split with the Circa 81’s Chef Clarke Merrell.
At Wilmington’s Bluewater Waterfront Grill, over 120 diners immersed themselves in the night of deliciousness while they eagerly awaited the final results from event host and founder, Jimmy Crippen. Crippen discussed the day’s events with each chef before revealing the scores for all six courses. The champion took home the coveted “Red Chef Jacket,” and will advance to the Final Fire series in November 2013 to vie for the 2013 championship title and a cash prize.
Competition Dining challenges the chefs to use featured ingredients grown or produced in North Carolina. This battle, Battle Johnston County Hams, Mangalitsa bacon and ham were the chosen components to bewitch the judges and a full house of diners. The chefs were required to use at least one of the ingredients in each of their three courses, and were not privy to the secret ingredients until noon on competition day.
Both chefs came to impress. Fong’s first dish was Asian-braised pork belly with Stilton-slab bacon grit cake, tempura broccolini, roasted jalapeño and pepper coulis, mint-cilantro oil and crispy ginger. He followed that with his dish “Johnston Co. 3 Ways,” which included egg-battered ham, ham wonton, and country ham with pickled radish over cheese cracker, bright sweet & sour sauce and cherry-bacon compote. He finished the competition with his highest scoring dish, a dessert he named “Bacon-Dark Chocolate Torte”— pâte à choux, espresso gelato, chocolate covered pistachio bacon, crème anglaise and caramel sauce.
Merrell’s highest scoring dish of the night was truffle honey-glazed pork belly with Johnston Co. country-style grit cake, slab bacon, heirloom tomato chutney, crispy collards and rendered bacon-chive oil.
Diners and culinary judges alike cast their votes through the new “Competition Dining” voting app, available on Apple and Android mobile devices, which allowed them to rate each dish as it was presented. Diners and judges without smartphones filled out voting ballots during dinner.
The heat of the competition continues with part two of Fire on the Rock, which kicked off April 8 at Meadowbrook Inn & Suites in Blowing Rock, the birthplace of the “Got To Be N.C.” Competition Dining Series. The Fire on the Rock-Blowing Rock finalist will be determined on April 24 and go against Fire on the Rock-Asheville finalist Chef Adam Hayes of Red Stag Grill on April 30. Tickets will sell out fast, so get your ticket now by visiting http://www.competitiondining.com/events/fire-on-the-rock-blowing-rock.