Competition Dining tasting held at new Belk Home store in Greensboro

by Whitney Kenerly

Competition Dining event at Belks in Greensboro.

Until the Competition Dining event at Belk I had ever experienced the smell of fresh crab cakes sautéing in a cast iron pan while browsing through the fall line of Ralph Lauren bed linens. The event was held at the new Belk Home store in Greensboro on Thursday.

Competition Dining NC hosts the “Got to be NC” Competition Dining series each year in an effort to showcase the culinary talents of our state’s chefs, along with local NC products. The Fire in the Triad part of the series was held from April 22 to June 2 of this year as chefs from local restaurants including Marisol, Undercurrent, B. Christopher’s, Artisan, Spring House, Graze and River Birch Lodge and Meridian competed in a cooking event that was part “Iron Chef” and part “Chopped.”

At the Belk Home store event on Thursday, Chefs Kevin Reddick of Artisan Restaurant in Winston-Salem and Chris Russell of B. Christopher’s in Greensboro held a cooking demonstration with samples provided for the lucky shoppers.

There were also fantastic bits of advice for the budding foodie:

1. “When you’re chopping chives, you want to make sure to keep your thumb tucked in,” said Chef Reddick. This is great advice.

2. Stick blenders are awesome. While preparing a lemon-dill sauce for his mini-crab cakes, Chef Russell could not say enough great things about a stick blender. “You really need one,” said Russell. “It’s great for sauces, soups – everything.”

3. Try grape seed oil. Chef Reddick said that he started using grape seed oil as a lighter alternative to olive oil. “It’s more neutral in flavor,” said Reddick. “It has a higher smoke point and is great for salad dressings and vegetables. It’s a go-to for me.”

4. Don’t put too much stuff in your crab cakes. Chef Russell said that the most common mistake people make when preparing crab cakes at home is adding more breading than they need. Also, they forget to sear it before popping it into the oven.

5. Nothing beats local, seasonal fruits and vegetables. Both chefs expressed a love for eating as much fresh, local produce. “I like to use a much local NC food as possible,” said Chef Reddick. Even though Chef Russell runs a steakhouse, he said that he mostly eats vegetables, and that his restaurant always has a satisfying vegetarian menu item.

Artisan in Winston-Salem has been open since the end of 2012, while B. Christopher’s has been a local mainstay since 1999. B. Christopher’s recently moved from Burlington to downtown Greensboro.