The Oxford vs Flights in Battle Mustache

The quarter final Competition Dining “Fire in the Triangle” battles end tonight with Chef Dean Wendel from Flights at the Renaissance North Hills Hotel vs Chef Chris Hill from The Oxford.

In the first round Flights won against Sono Japanese Restaurant and The Oxford against Chapel Hill Country Club. Since then, these two chefs and their teams have egged each other on in friendly competition and tonight it’s not so much about the secret ingredient, but instead Battle Mustache.

It all began when Chef Wendel told Chef Hill that if he won his battle they’d grow their mustaches to look like Johnnie Anderson of Eschelon Food Group. Both teams have been growing their mustaches ever since, and tonight the winning chef will have the pleasure of shaving HALF of the mustache off each member of the other team. These guys haven’t been messing around with their mustache growth either. Think handle bars and Fu-Man Chu’s. Once shaven, the chefs then have to go out to celebrate like that. Ha ha ha, this is going to be fun.

BATTLE MUSTACHE

Prior to each battle I like to post Q & A’s from each chef so you get a chance to find out a little bit more about them. Here both chefs offer their take on their first round experience and what they are looking forward to tonight.

Chef Dean Wendel

Dean Wendel: Flights in Raleigh, NC

My cooking style is:  Regional Cuisine with heavy local influences, all with a modern twist.

The NC ingredients I use are: Local Eggs, Cheeses, Honey, Chicken, Produce and more.  Community is one of the cornerstones of our company and we feel this event will allow us to be a part of it and give back to it.

Q and A with Chef Wendel

Me: What were the biggest challenges during your first battle?

Chef: Biggest challenge really was unfamiliar surroundings. Not knowing the equipment and work space constraints

Me: Were there any “oh no” moments when you thought something went seriously wrong?

Chef: Maybe a couple, we cooked the Egg Roll wrapper then shocked them in cold H2O and some of them stuck back together. When we were counting them, several had broken and we had to redo some. Another OhOh was when our smoker caught on fire. Wayne from Southern foods was less than happy about that.

Me: After finding out what the secret ingredient was, how did you go about planning/brainstorming your 3 courses?

Chef: We had a good look at the truck of usable ingreds. And really talked about what we could do. We pretty much stuck to it for the night.

Me: What kind of strategies were you planning/thinking about?

Chef: The only statedgy we had going in was that we were going to make a dessert. When Mike Lee said he wasn’t doing one I thought he was just trying to get in my head.  If he had done one things may have been different.

Me: Were you excited or dismayed when the secret ingredient was revealed?

Chef: Well we were battling against an Asian restaurant and when I heard Asian Noodle I thought , you got ot be kidding me. I know it is a random selection but come on.

Me: As a team, what were each individual person’s strengths? And how did that help pull you together as a team?

Chef: I think that as a team we all pulled together to get it done. Each of us was watching the other and inputting as needed.

Me: What were your thoughts after the meal was plated and ready for the judging audience?

Chef: As you had envisioned or did you have to improvise along the way. We had considered adding on to the Open Faced Ravioli and thought it wasn’t necessary. After the scores came out we were wishing we had. We improvised on the dessert a little bit.

Me: Any final thoughts about the overall experience?

Chef: The experience was amazing. Great  camaraderie between the teams. Working with Pate Dawson/Southern Foods Chefs was a blast.

Me: What are you most looking forward to going into the next battle?

Chef: Shaving, It was my idea to do this and now I want it off.  We told Oxford if they won their battle we would grow Staches like Chef Johnnie Anderson of Eschelon Food Group

Me: Is there any one thing you learned during the first battle that will help you in the quarter finals?

Chef: Drink Lots of fluids the day before and during the event. Powder up (Corn starch  is your friend)

The Competition Dining series is based on the concept of “Iron Chef” with a secret ingredient announced to the chefs each day of battle at noon…..we, the dining judges and followers of course do not find out until sometime around 7pm when the event begins….the intrigue and suspense is a killer =). The best part is that all secret ingredients are from North Carolina and a true testament to the abundance of local product available to us.

Tickets sold out quickly for Fire in the Triangle, but stop by my blog for a daily recap and these “meet the chef” posts to stay in the loop. You can also follow me on twitter @durhamfoodie and the hashtag #CompDiningNC for up to the minute details during each battle. Please also follow us on Facebook at Durhamfoodie and Competition Dining

Chef Christopher Hill

Christopher Hill: The Oxford in Raleigh, NC

My cooking style is: Stong classical French foundation with American influences.

My competitive advantage is: the experience I gained from working in the culinary profession at an early age. Working in many different regions in the country has given me a unique knowledge of various unique artisinal ingredients.

Q and A with Chef Hill

Me: What were the biggest challenges during your first battle?

Chef: Getting used to the new kitchen layout was my biggest challenge.

Me: Were there any “oh no” moments when you thought something went seriously wrong?

Chef: When a portion of my first dessert idea went wrong….but was fun and challenging to have to change dessert with a couple hours left.

Me: After finding out what the secret ingredient was, how did you go about planning/brainstorming your 3 courses?

Chef: I gathered what I thought was the freshest and prettiest ingredients. I brought them from where they were staged, into the walk in cooler and stood in front of them and planned the dinner.

Me: What kind of strategies were you planning/thinking about?

Chef: Just making good and familiar food

Me: Were you excited or dismayed when the secret ingredient was revealed?

Chef: At first, I felt what am I going to do with shrimp?  But then when I had a second to think about it I was very excited.

Me: As a team, what were each individual person’s strengths? And how did that help pull you together as a team?

Chef: I had a great support system….both mentally and physically!

Me: What were your thoughts after the meal was plated and ready for the judging audience? As you had envisioned or did you have to improvise along the way.

Chef: From the writing of menu and to the end result the dishes were what I envisioned….but there was definitely improvising going on.

Me: Any final thoughts about the overall experience?

Chef: It is a great experience and love the fact how the triangle has supported this competition!

Me: What are you most looking forward to going into the next battle?

Chef: Being familiar with my surroundings (the kitchen).  I believe with that out of the way the possibilities are endless!

Me: Is there any one thing you learned during the first battle that will help you in the quarter finals?

Chef:Be patient and you WILL have to improvise!

So there we have it folks. Your Got to Be NC Competition Dining “Fire in the Triangle” Battle Mustache.

Triangle location for all dinners: 1705 Prime Catering and Events, the premier private event space for Rocky Top Catering at 1705 East Millbrook Road, Raleigh, NC 27609; http://www.rockytopcatering.com/our-venue/1705prime.php

Next up in the series is “Fire in the Triad” August 13 through September 25 in Winston-Salem. For tickets go here.

Special thanks to the Got to be NC Competition Dining Series Sponsors, without their support, we would not have the privilege of attending such a series of events here in NC.

SPONSORS: The North Carolina Department of Agriculture (NCDA), Southern Foods/ Pate Dawson, OUR STATE Magazine, Crippen’s Country Inn & Restaurant in Blowing Rock, Whole Harvest Foods and H.ITS Technology. Local sponsors include the Greater Raleigh Convention and Visitors Bureau and Independent Weekly.

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