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[FRIE IN THE TRIAD]

THE FINALISTS

The Fire in the Triad semifinalists are now set.Sixteen of the sweetest chefs in the Triad have been whittled down to the Final Four. A mix of champions, soon-to-be champions and the next winner of Fire in the Triad rest among the few. Greensboro, Kernersville and Winston-Salem are all seeking bragging rights. History was written last week as two more chefs soldiered on to victory.

Diners taste victory as well as defeat, in the form of a gastriques, ice creams and grilled pieces of meat. The fate of each competing culinarian is decided with a quick swipe of the fingertip on an iPhone. Any competing chef will tell you they can taste victory as well as defeat well before the carefully crafted plates are being served. When you are taken out of your element, put in an unfamiliar environ, given ingredients you may not be familiar with, it’s tough. The only semblance of something real is your team you hand selected to join you on this journey. The journey is long and hot but the rewards are sweet.

Tuesday Night: The third quarterfinal Fire in the Triad dinner was between Chef Mark Grohman of Meridian in Winston-Salem and Chef Timothy Bocholis of Bistro B in Kernersville. It was the Battle of Carolina Catfish and Berries this night. Both chefs admitted to being quiet leaders in the kitchen. Where words failed them, their food spoke volumes. Mark Grohman and his team killed with crispy katafi-wrapped catfish, Old Mill of Guilford grits, snap peas, Lusty Monk Original Sin Mustard and pancetta cream sauce. Meanwhile, Bocholis ended and won the six-course dance with a spiced vanilla ice cream, almond tuille with raspberry-lemon coulis. Bocholis will meet Creighton of Liberty Oak on June 19.

Wednesday Night: The fourth quarterfinal Fire in the Triad dinner took place between Chef Tim Thompson of Marisol and Chef Creighton McNeil of Liberty Oak, both in Greensboro. The night’s featured ingredient: Blueberries — Violet Beauregarde would have made good company this night. The best dishes hinged on classic blueberry pairings. Thompson made braised pork butt, blueberry-apple-basil cole slaw, dried-cherry and bacon couscous with blueberry-chipotle barbecue sauce. Chef Creighton squeezed out a win with lemon custard, blueberry-ginger-sage ice cream, blueberry passion-fruit syrup and cashew-graham crisp.

For detailed descriptions and a feature expose about a day in the life of a Competition Dining chef, visit Nik Snacks blog at niksnacks.blogspot. com. Next week, stay tuned for highlights of the semifinal battles between Greensboro Country Club and Noble’s Grille followed by Bistro B and Liberty Oak. Tickets to both events are sold out, but follow Competition Dining on Facebook and you may snag a last minute seat to the greatest show on earth. To purchase tickets for Fire in the Triangle and see what our neighbors to the East are up to, visit competitiondining.com

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