Competition Dining Series Finals

by Kristi Maier

See the news of Chef Miller’s win and a photo gallery at our updated blog post.


For the past five weeks, the Triad has been in the midst of culinary battles the likes of which few have ever seen. But the real fun is in the eating. As we go to press on this very article, the winner of last night’s final in Winston-Salem has yet to be announced. But by the time you read this, there will be a new King of Cuisine in the Triad.

We started out with 16 chefs from different parts of the Triad and some beyond. Each week, they battled it out in the kitchen for up to 160 voting judges at the Benton Convention Center. And each week, there were major upsets, incredible surprises and turns of events (ask Richard Miller about coming from 10 points back for his first round win) and of course, inventive delicious fresh ingredients from local farms in the area. Take a look at the featured ingredients for the preliminary and quarterfinal battles: Coldwater Creek Grains (flour, cornmeal, grits) and Plum Granny Farms Lambsquarter; Windcrest Farms Organic Herbs; Black Mountain Chocolate and Bertie County Peanuts; Goat Lady Dairy Cheese and Accidental Baker Crackers; Joyce Farms Pheasant and Harrel Hill Farms Sorghum Molasses; Carolina Bison and The Specialty Farmer Beets; NC Eggs and Boy & Girl Farm Turnips; Ran-Lew Dairy Cream Top Milk & Buttermilk and Uno Alla Volta Ricotta and Butter; The Specialty Farmer Rainbow Carrots and Cabbage and Windcrest.

Farms Squash; NC Dayboat Yellowfin Tuna and Mahi-Mahi and New Town Farm Potatoes; Certified Angus Beef Sirloin Flap and Windcrest Farms Cucumbers; Certified Angus Beef Skirt Steak and Rowland’s Row Peppers and Tomatoes.

What makes Competition Dining truly unique is you never ever know what you are going to get. Not a fan of cucumber? Well, you have to put your big kid pants on and dive in. The chefs make accommodations for allergies and sensitivities, but you not liking something is not one of those accommodations. (Heck, we even got beets and my other half doesn’t like those, but he ate them and he liked them in their executions that evening.) These chefs are judged on their creativity. Also, every course is a blind tasting. You don’t know which chef prepared which dish. You can try to guess, but it could end with horrible results, so each diner is simply encouraged to vote their palate. In the end, the “pro” culinary judges are weighted with the “regular Joe’s” scores and the two scores (weighted together) determine the winner.

The semi-finals, which took place last week featured two match-ups. The first with Chef Michael Harkenreader of Undercurrent in Greensboro and Chef Dion Sprenkle of Chef Dion Sprenkle in Lexington. The featured ingredient was High Rock Farm chestnut flour and fresh blackberries. The highest scoring dish of the night was Roasted Marcho Farms tenderloin of veal, braised veal cheek, Foy Farms crispy wild mushrooms, bacon infused chestnut flour-potato crouquette, and High Rock Farm blackberry gastrique by Chef Dion Sprenkle. Sprenkle, won the night with a score of 29.478 to 26.210 The next night’s battle included Goodnight Brothers Dry- Cured Ham and Barbee Farms Cantaloupe and featured Chef David Nicoletta of Gianno’s of High Point/Giada’s Trattoria in Kernersville versus Chef Richard Miller of Graze in Winston-Salem. The highest scoring dish of the night was Goat Lady Dairy chevre-cloister honey cheesecake, Barbee Farms cantaloupe gelato, candied Goodnight Brothers drycured ham, cantaloupe confit, and strawberry reduction by Chef Richard Miller. It was a close win with Miller squeaking by with a score of 26.446 to 26.274.

And then last night. Chef Richard Miller finds himself once again in the Triad finals. This time, against Chef Dion Sprenkle. Who wins? Be sure to check for results. We’ll have interviews from the winning chefs as well as photos from the courses served throughout the night.

Didn’t get a chance to go to Competition Dining? Well, there’s always next year. Or if you don’t mind a drive to Raleigh, follow their social media updates for tickets to the Finals in Raleigh coming the last weekend in October as winning chefs from the four areas battle it out for the state title. For more for information about Competition Dining, the local battles as well as Charlotte, Triangle and Greenville, visit !