Bacon and Beer were no match for Chef Tim Thompson during the Fire in the Triad competition, which ran from April 22 to June 2. Chef Thompson, who has been the executive chef at Marisol for three years, impressed the judges with his bacon and Panko encrusted flounder and beer infused chocolate cake.

Thompson received his culinary training at GTCC and has been working in kitchens for ten years. The seasonal and evolving menu at Marisol helped prepare him for the NC Competition Dining Series.

“The great thing about the restaurant is that we have a very limited menu. So every night I come up with anywhere from four to eight special dishes for that night,” said Thompson. “When you have that much constant creation you couldn’t have a better laboratory for the completion.”

Still, beer and bacon can be overpowering ingredients to work with. While beer can add bitterness to a dish, bacon likes to steal the show. Chef Thompson recommends cooking as much fat out of the bacon as possible before adding the pork to something like the crust of a cheesecake.

“It’s so overpowering you kinda have to put it in the back seat and it will stand up on its own,” said Thompson.

Thompson also credits the food culture in the Triad for bolstering his creativity. “We in the Triad are fortunate to have such a first class dining experience,” said Thompson. “It’s truly unique, it’s not something you could go to another state and find, and I think it’s because it puts the spotlight on eating local.”

Thompson feels that Fire in the Triad comes out of that culture, making the competition more fun than other competitive cooking events with judges that nitpick over technique. Thompson said, “It gives the chefs a chance to show off and it gives the dinners a chance to see what they can do.” !