What is it about cooking that fires the human competitive spirit?
Backyard burgers pit neighbor against neighbor. Co-workers line up chili-filled crockpots at lunchtime. Homemakers fill county fair tables with their mothers’ and grandmothers’ jam recipes — one-upped as far as the current generation is concerned.
Even professional chefs, after pleasing diner after diner night after night, seek title to show that their sears, sautes, roasts and bakes are the best.
Thirteen Wilmington-area chefs are among 16 pro cooks competing in the 2013 Fire on the Dock cooking contest at Bluewater Waterfront Grill. Using a secret ingredient, from North Carolina, revealed just before cooking begins, chefs face off in weekly single-elimination matches leading up to the last showdown April 3.
Diners, alongside culinary and guest judges, rate each dish to determine who moves on to the next round.
Four such regional contests across North Carolina culminate in a final four to pick a statewide winner later this year.
Some of Wilmington and Wrightsville Beach’s most popular chefs are in the battle, namely 22 North‘s Brent Poteat, Cameo 19 Hundred‘s Kirsten Mitchell, YoSake‘s Josh Woo and Rx‘s James Doss. All but Poteat entered the 2012 contest, with Mitchell being the only Wilmington cook to make the Fire on the Dock 2012 final four.
Chef Andy Hopper, then at Chefs 105 in Morehead City, took the title.
Other 2013 contestants’ names are lesser-known around Wilmington. Former Phun Seafood Bar chef Shane Tyner represents his new kitchen, King Neptune at Wrightsville Beach. Scott Grimm steps up for Dockside.
Who will leave the contest still hungry for validation? Probably every competitor. When it comes cooking, does the contest ever end?