When Morehead City chef Andy Hopper, of Chefs 105 restaurant, showed up in Wilmington to compete in Fire on the Dock, he was an unknown battling the well-knowns in the Cape Fear region.
Lots of people here recognize his name now.
Hopper not only took down two accomplished Wilmington chefs during Fire on the Dock battles, he also served one of the cooking competition’s most popular dishes.
Today, Hopper shares that recipe, Country Ham and Sweet Potato Soup, a dish that garnered Fire on the Dock’s second highest score across the board.
The soup showed up May 1 during Battle Bacon and Country Ham, when Hopper faced chef Antoine Murray of Cape Fear Country Club. Hopper previously won Battle Strawberries and Asparagus against Manna chef Jacob Hilbert.
The victor will meet the winner of tomorrow night’s face-off between Kirsten Mitchell of Cameo 1900, near Wrightsville Beach, and Gerry Fong of Persimmons in New Bern. The final showdown happens May 22 at Shell Island Resort, Fire on the Dock headquarters.
The statewide Competition Dining series is a bracket-style tournament featuring regional contests that culminate in a final four battle to pick an overall N.C. winner. A secret ingredient, from North Carolina, must be used in each of the three courses chefs prepare during each contest.
The competition started earlier this year with Fire on the Rock in Blowing Rock.
Country Ham and Sweet Potato Soup
6 sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped
2 cups diced ham or bacon
2 ribs celery, diced
5 cloves garlic, chopped
2 carrots, diced
2 shallots, chopped
2 quarts chicken stock
1 cup coconut milk
1 cup ginger syrup
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup mascarpone cheese
Season with salt and pepper to taste
Garnish: 1/2 cup fresh basil leaves, cut into thin strips
Garnish: 1/2 cup crisp, crumbled bacon
Garnish: 1/4 cup balsamic reduction
Sweet potatoes, ham or bacon, celery, garlic carrots, shallots and chicken stock in a large soup pot set over high heat. Bring mixture to a boil, reduce heat and simmer until the vegetables are tender. Set soup aside to cool.
Puree cooled soup in a blender. Place soup through a strainer to remove lumps.
Place soup back in its pot over high heat. Bring soup to a simmer. Stir in coconut milk, ginger syrup and honey until well blended. Stir in mascarpone cheese until well blended. Season soup to taste with salt and black pepper.
Ladle soup into bowls. Garnish each bowl with a few basil leaf strips, a sprinkle of crumbled bacon and a drizzle of balsamic reduction.
Makes 6 to 8 servings.
Source: Andy Hopper, Chefs 105