North Carolina cheese was the secret ingredient for the semifinal round of the Got To Be NC competition dining series at 1705 Prime in Raleigh on Monday night. The sold-out crowd of 120 diners was served six courses for the Fire In The Triangle match-up between Chef Ryan Payne of Weathervane in Chapel Hill and Chef Adam Rose of Il Palio, also located in Chapel Hill. The kitchen was crowded and busy, with both teams incorporating at least two kinds of cheese into every plate and then working together to keep the dishes moving. The three cheese options for the battle were Hillsborough Cheese Company's farmer's cheese, Goat Lady Dairy's chèvre and Ashe County Cheese's sharp mountain cheddar.
The Got To Be NC competition dining series is modeled after the popular Iron Chef television series and principally sponsored by the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Southern Foods/ Pate Dawson. Four regions of the state 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.
Chef Payne edged out Chef Rose by 4.64 percent to move on to the final round of Fire In The Triangle, which will take place July 31 with Chef Payne taking on Chef John Childers of Herons.
Click the slideshow at right to watch the evening unfold...