Mention the word chef these days and what usually comes to mind is the super-charismatic Bobby Flay type, the highly respected Daniel Boulud type or the say-anything Gordon Ramsay type.
Television chefs give the perception that all chefs work in fine-dining or cutting-edge restaurants on their way to celebrity fame of one sort or another.
But all kinds of cooks exist out there, and as far as most of them are concerned, one works just as hard as the other, whether he or she puts out fancy plates at the most urbane restaurant or stamps out hot meals for hundreds of kids at the local elementary school.
March 11 winner Antoine Murray's kohlrabi dessert.
Diners don’t often think about these “other chefs.” Cooks at hospitals, schools, clubs and other non-restaurant spots aren’t in the spotlight, even at the cooking tournament Fire on the Dock, which has been going on since mid-February at Bluewater Waterfront Grill in Wrightsville Beach.
Fire on the Dock competitors are mostly restaurant chefs. So when one of the familiar lost to a country club chef March 11, it was quite an upset.
Local favorite Rx Restaurant and Bar chef James Doss bowed to Cape Fear Country Club chef Antoine Murray in the first of second-round battles at Fire on the Dock.
The contests always involve at least one secret ingredient. Garlic leeks, purple kohlrabi and broccoli rabe were thrown at Doss and Murray.
Both chefs put out stellar plates, but two Murray dishes wowed attendees. Earning especially high marks was Murray’s second-course “Duo”: braised applewood-smoked pork belly and parmesan grits with tomato and bacon relish alongside pepper-seared shoulder tender steak with truffle-pureed broccoli rabe, veal jus and fried Texas Pete shallots.
Even bigger scores went to Murray’s dessert: candied garlic leek and financier cake with kohlrabi-chocolate rosette, kohlrabi leaf and caramel ice cream.
Alas, you can’t sample Murray’s food unless you’re a Cape Fear Country Club member or guest, but he competes in Fire on the Dock again March 27, when he’ll face the winner of tonight’s match between Wrightsville Beach’s Blockade Runner chef Mark Lawson and Morehead City Circa 81 chef Clarke Merrell.
For tickets, check http://www.competitiondining.com.