Fire in the Triad semifinals: From the land of Texas Pete and honey

The Fire in the Triad semifinals are complete. Only a few courses separate the finalists from obtaining the coveted red chef’s jacket. Four chefs turned into two. Now only one can win and get that coveted red chef’s jacket. And $2,000. And a custom set of hand-forged knives from Ironman Forge in Charlotte. And prestige. And bragging rights. And… the list goes on. More than a month and a half in the making, restaurant relationships have been built and professional boundaries have been torn down. The last few chefs threw down in the kitchen and employed unique techniques and creativity to bring the best dishes possible to the dining public of Fire in the Triad.

Tuesday night: It was the Battle of the First Names as Chef Gregory John of Greensboro Country Club and Chef John Bobby of Noble’s Grille in Winston-Salem competed using NC cheese and honey. Armed with Calvander cheese from Chapel Hill Creamery and honey from St. Dominic’s in Mayodan, both teams toyed with savory and sweet applications to placate the dining public’s palates.

Chef John tried to best the upcoming dessert course with a honey-bourbon-braised pork, herbed spaetzle and 60-minute egg with Calvander bacon-ale fondue. Again, newfangled molecular gastronomy was no match for the classic pairing up next. Fire in the Triad’s Princess of Pastry, Lucia Renzi-Bobby and her husband Chef Bobby won the diners over with a Calvander and pear torte, honey meringue and pistachio crumble. The last Winston-Salem chef standing takes the first seat in the Fire in the Triad finals on June 26.

Wednesday night: Chef Timothy Bocholis of Bistro B in Kernersville and Chef Creighton McNeil of Liberty Oak in Greensboro competed in a hometown countdown with Texas Pete hot sauce. Diners were treated to mini bottles of the local hot sauce at the table, and each dish would have done Thad Garner proud. Bocholis started the night off with Texas Pete inspired lobster ceviche with yellow pepper crab chimichurri and guava sorbet. Chef McNeil rounded up his rowdy band of followers with Texas Pete and elk short-rib chili, cheddar-fried cornbread, and Texas Pete orange-honey butter. Chef Timothy Bocholis prevailed in the heat of the kitchen and takes a seat next to Noble’s Grille in the finals.

For detailed nightly recaps and select Fire in the Triad chefs’ recipes, visit Nik Snacks blog at Kernersville and Winston-Salem are seeking bragging rights to claim the best chef in the area. History was written last week as two more chefs soldiered on to victory.Next week, stay tuned for highlights of the final battle between Noble’s Grille and Bistro B. Follow Competition Dining on Facebook, Twitter and purchase tickets for the next installment of the Competition Dining Series, Fire in the Triangle, by visiting