On the job: chef
This month I spoke with Ben Adams, chef-partner of Piedmont Restaurant (401 Foster St). I didn’t get the chance to ask the usual questions about how he became a chef; we'll do that in a future interview. Today, I wanted to focus on his participation in the Got to Be NC Competition Dining Series.
Sixteen of the top chefs in the state are going head to head in the Got to Be NC Competition Dining Series. I stopped by Piedmont Restaurant to meet chef Ben Adams. In this single-elimination contest, he’ll be going against Chelsi Hogue of Ed’s Southern Food & Spirits of Goldsboro on Tuesday, January 27.
I asked Ben Adams to tell me what Piedmont Restaurant is known for, and he explained, “We do refined comfort food driven by seasonal local produce. We work with local farmers, so we’ll center our dishes around local produce that’s in season. And lately we’ve been getting real creative with rutabaga and sweet potatoes—I can’t wait for spring produce!”
The sixteen chefs aren’t chosen—they choose to step forward and battle for the grand prize. I asked Ben what the grand prize, and he hesitated. “You know … I don’t know!* I wanted to get into this competition because I thought it would be a fun way to get outside the restaurant and do something different. This is going to force us to be creative—moreso than on a normal day.”
Here’s how the competition goes: There will be eight contests, with two chefs competing head to head. Each restaurant will have a team of three, and they’ll learn what ingredients they’ll be using when they arrive at 10 or 11am on the morning of the competition. The teams will share the kitchen and will have all day to create three dishes for dinner … for a total of 80 to 100 people! Afterwards, a panel of judges will choose the winner.
“Are you worried?” I asked. “Do you think everybody will be looking over their shoulder and trying to spy on the other team?”
“No, actually, I’m not worried,” Ben answered. “We're not going to pay a lot of attention to the other team. We’re going to get in there and just do what we do!”
Check out the full Got to Be NC Competition Dining Series schedule and get ticket information here. All of the contests will be held at 1705 Prime (1705 E Millbrook Rd, in Raleigh). Piedmont isn’t the only Durham competing; Four Square will go up against the January 21 winner on Tuesday, February 10.
* By the way, I later found out that the winner of the regional (Triangle) series will receive the grand prize, $2,000, plus a handmade chef knife by Ironman Forge and a cool Red Chef Jacket. Later this year, all of the regional winners will compete in the statewide Battle of Champions. Go Piedmont and Four Square!