The Pub at Sweet and Savory chef Josh Petty was the last Wilmington chef standing in the second round of the Fire on the Dock portion of the Competition Dining Series, a statewide, bracket-style cooking tournament. He was defeated by 2012 runner-up Gerry Fong of Persimmons in New Bern.
Tonight, Fong faces Clarke Merrell of Morehead City’s Circa 81 in the championship Fire on the Dock battle at Bluewater Grill. The winner goes on to the final five, including chefs who have won in other North Carolina regions, Raleigh, Charlotte and Greensboro among them.
Petty lost Fire on the Dock, but he hasn’t stuck a fork in his own efforts. The surprising twists he showed off at Fire on the Dock continue on The Pub at Sweet and Savory’s new Latin-themed menu.
The list includes chipotle-seasoned short ribs rolled in a burrito, pork belly carnitas, and sticky rum ribs served with cheddar/bacon/fried onion macaroni and cheese.
Appetizers include Caribbean Fried Shrimp tossed in housemade carrot and mango hot sauce, all topped with queso fresco and cilantro. A salsa sampler allows diners to pick three of the following: black bean and corn salsa, salsa fresco, salsa verde, peach habanero salsa and orange-coriander, roasted tomato and poblano pepper salsa.
Check Mixto soon for a revamped menu from chef Fenix Nelson, formerly of Manna and Catch. He also owns the late-night burrito delivery service, Incognito Bar-Rito, which I recently wrote about in a Greater Wilmington Business Journal story about chefs who moonlight. Nelson favors from-scratch moles and sauces and is talking about making his own cheese.
Former Crow Hill owner Derrick Cook, who did a brief stint at Cameron Art Museum’s Café Johnnie after Crow Hill closed, has been shaking pans at The Kitchen, where I recently had a nice carpaccio with hearts of palm, avocado and frisee. Cook works with his New York City pal Andrew Karasz, who recently switched over to The Kitchen from Circa 1922. The pair met in New York and ran into each other unexpectedly when Karasz arrived as Circa executive chef in February 2012.
Wilmington chefs and diners have not forgotten former Circa 1922 executive chef and Manna executive sous chef Kyle Lee McKnight. Many are reporting plans to attend April 8-11 opening nights at his latest stop: farm-to-table, contemporary American Highland Avenue in Hickory.
Speaking of Manna, Paula Pacini, most previously in The Fortunate Glass wine bar kitchen, has moved to Manna, joining executive chef Jameson Chavez and noted pastry chef Rebecca Alvarado Parades. The team’s spring menu is out, and this month they honor local farmers and produce at Manna’s popular 7-9 p.m. Thursday tapas at the bar.