Battle of the Hill | Slideshows | Indy Week

July 28, 2012 Slideshows » Food

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Battle of the Hill 

The semifinal round of the Got To Be NC competition dining series Fire In The Triangle began with emcee Jimmy Crippen announcing the secret ingredient: North Carolina cheese. A sold-out room of diners at 1705 Prime in Raleigh were served six courses for the match-up between Chef Ryan Payne of Weathervane in Chapel Hill and Chef Adam Rose of Il Palio, also in Chapel Hill. The unofficial title of the match-up was Battle of the Hill.
Chef instructor and guest judge Eric Gephart registers himself in the "voter's portal" prior to the start of the event. Once registered, diners were instructed to vote on each course using a scale of 1 to 5 in categories including aroma, presentation, taste and use of the secret ingredient. The event is styled after the popular Iron Chef television series, except that the room full of diners is weighted 70 percent of the vote and the guest judges are weighted the remaining 30 percent in determining a winner.
The first course of the evening was a Goat Lady chevre maragrite with mushroom sherry demi, truffled yukon gold potato francobolli, farmer's cheese sauce and asparagus, from Chef Adam Rose of Il Palio. The three cheese options for the battle were Hillsborough Cheese Company's farmer's cheese, Goat Lady Dairy's chevre and Ashe County Cheese's sharp mountain cheddar. For each dish, the chefs had to use at least two of the three cheeses.
Jay Beaver, cooking with Chef Adam Rose of Il Palio, eyes a tray of pretzel bread being carried by Weathervane Sous Chef Spencer Carter in the kitchen, which is shared by both teams during the competition.
The competing chefs are allowed a team of three, plus two Chef Refs who determine the order of dishes, work directly with runners and keep everyone honest. With 120 plates per course, everyone helps each other out in order to keep the service moving.
The Got To Be NC competition dining series is principally sponsored by the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Southern Foods/ Pate Dawson, with the goal of celebrating local North Carolina products and showcasing the culinary talents across the state. Four regions host a series of 15 matches each, in single-elimination tournament style, with the winner taking home $2,000 and a red chef's jacket.
In between runs to and from the kitchen, the service staff tries out the second course: Ashe County sharp mountain cheddar and beer soup with country Nehi grape sausage, housemade cheddar pretzel and smoked farmer's cheese, from Chef Payne. Their opinion was not tallied into the final vote.
Quail breast medallions are basted before plating of the third course begins. Both teams started prepping and cooking seven hours earlier in the day.
The mood in the kitchen was mostly light-hearted, with competing chefs Adam Rose of Il Palio, far right in black coat, and Ryan Payne of Weathervane, center in white coat, helping to plate each other's dishes.
Final touches are given to the third course, a creation by Chef Rose: quail breast medallion with white balsamic and shallot gastrique, farmer's cheese potato gratin, Ashe County sharp mountain cheddar balsamella and fried shallots.
Voting via a mobile app made for the appearance of rude dinner guests, but in reality it allowed for a quick and accurate tally of votes so that a winner could be announced moments after the final plate was cleaned. Several guests did take the opportunity to continue using their smartphones to tweet updates on the event.
With six courses of 120 plates each, the unsung and unseen hero of the evening was the dishwasher, Joseph Villers.
The cocktail dump bucket.
The fourth course would feature seared sea scallops.
The completed fourth course: veal cheek ragu with seared sea scallop, Goat Lady chevre grits and a sharp mountain cheddar wafer, from Chef Ryan Payne.
The dessert courses make or break a chef's chances to take home the glory. Chef Rose went for a chevre and farmer's cheese cannoli and sharp mountain cheddar beignets with summer fruits and local honey.
The finished plate for the fifth course: chevre and farmer's cheese cannoli and sharp mountain cheddar beignets with summer fruits and local honey.
Flat-screen televisions positioned throughout the room played interview clips featuring the competing chefs in between courses to simulate the Iron Chef experience and to keep diners occupied until the next course was ready.
Server Jourdan Cromartie waits for finished plates. The evening was a test of endurance for all of the service staff involved.
Weathervane Sous Chef Vanessa Haydock plates a sharp mountain cheddar sticky bun for the final course of the evening.
Fresh mint was added to an apple-cranberry compote for the final course from Chef Ryan Payne.
Jay Beaver looks for an opening through the swirling crowd of chefs and servers that filled the kitchen at 1705 Prime during the event.
Guests log their votes following a course. Tickets to the event cost $49.
With the final course plated and out, clean-up began in the kitchen. Chefs brought their own tools of the trade but were limited to using only the provided ingredients.
More tools of the trade, ready to be loaded out after the announcement of the winner.
Chef Adam Rose dons a clean coat to greet the audience of diners and to hear the decision.
Chef Ryan Payne talks about his strategy prior to the announcement of voter results.
Chef Ryan Payne of Weathervane (center left) and Chef Adam Rose of Il Palio (center right) wait patiently with their teams as the final votes are announced.
Chef Adam Rose reacts to the news that he lost the semifinal match-up to Chef Ryan Payne by 4.64 percent, as a fan of Mr. Payne cheers on. The final round of the Fire In The Triangle will take place July 31, with Chef Ryan Payne of Weathervane in Chapel Hill taking on Chef John Childers of Herons in Cary.
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The semifinal round of the Got To Be NC competition dining series Fire In The Triangle began with emcee Jimmy Crippen announcing the secret ingredient: North Carolina cheese. A sold-out room of diners at 1705 Prime in Raleigh were served six courses for the match-up between Chef Ryan Payne of Weathervane in Chapel Hill and Chef Adam Rose of Il Palio, also in Chapel Hill. The unofficial title of the match-up was Battle of the Hill.
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  • Fire in the Triangle: Battle of the Hill

    Slideshow: A crowded and busy kitchen serves six courses to a sold-out crowd of 120 diners during the Fire In The Triangle match-up between two Chapel Hill chefs: Ryan Payne of Weathervane and Adam Rose of Il Palio.
    • Jul 28, 2012

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