NCRLA seeks chefs and distilleries for statewide culinary competition

RALEIGH, N.C., April 17, 2018 — The North Carolina Restaurant & Lodging Association is now accepting applications for its third annual NCRLA Chef Showdown, presented by Got to be NC. The culinary competition features the talents of chefs, pastry chefs and mixologists from across the state. Applications will be accepted through Friday, May 4.

“This one-of-a-kind competition showcases our state’s thriving culinary scene, as well as the flavorful ingredients produced here in North Carolina,” said NCRLA President and CEO Lynn Minges.

This year’s competition boasts a new look, location—moving from the state’s capital to the Queen City—and format. Due to overwhelming interest from top culinary talents, three regional semifinals have been added to narrow the finalist pool. Regionals will take place in New Bern, May 22, at Lawson’s Landing Cafe; Hickory, June 4, at Highland Avenue; and Raleigh, June 25, at Vidrio.

“Competitor applications will be reviewed by a selection committee and selected chefs (to be announced in early May) will be asked to compete in the regional semi-final rounds,” said Minges. “The regional semifinals will help judges in the Eastern, Central and Western areas of the state to identify the best-of-the-best, sending 21 chefs to the final competition in Charlotte.”

The final event, the NCRLA Chef Showdown, will take place Aug. 27, in Charlotte, at Aria at Founders Hall in the Bank of America Center, following the first day of the North Carolina Restaurant & Lodging Expo.

At the showdown, participating chefs will present a dish to a distinguished panel of six judges and will prepare sample-sized offerings for approximately 400 attendees. Attendees will determine the recipients of the “People’s Choice” awards, while the judges will select the 2018 NCRLA Chef of the Year and the NCRLA Pastry Chef of the Year, among other accolades.

Dishes in both the semi-final and final competitions will be judged on composition, taste, creativity and the best use North Carolina proteins, produce or products.

NCRLA is also accepting applications from North Carolina distilleries. The six selected distilleries will each partner with a state-based mixologist to create a craft cocktail with their brand. Mixologist/distillery teams will prepare sample-sized craft cocktails for showdown attendees and judges while competing for the NCRLA Mixologist of the Year award.

The competition’s top winners in 2017 collectively represented the Charlotte area: Chef Matthew Krenz, The Asbury at the Dunhill Hotel, was named NCRLA Chef of the Year; Chef Ann Marie Stefaney, Heirloom, was named NCRLA Pastry Chef of the Year; and mixologist Amanda Britton, Crowntown Collective, featuring Muddy River Distillery product, was named NCRLA Mixologist of the Year.

For more information or to apply to the 2018 NCRLA Chef Showdown, visit


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