Tough challenge for Wilmington’s newest kitchen

Talk about challenges!

One of Wilmington’s newest restaurant ventures will send out what may be the first taste of its work during the upcoming Fire on the Dock chef competition starting March 26 at Shell Island Resort in Wrightsville Beach.

Not only that, he’ll be pitted against one of the city’s best chefs in the statewide, ”Iron Chef”-style Got to be NC Competition Dining Series that started earlier this year with Fire on the Rock in Blowing Rock and moves on to other N.C. regions.

On April 3, Chef James Doss of downtown Castle Street’s budding Hall’s Rx restaurant will face Marc’s on Market’s Marc Copenhaver, two-time champion in the Taste of Wilmington Food and Wine Festival’s Top Chef contest. The pair must use a secret ingredient in each of three courses.

Copenhaver in 2011 also took third place in the fine dining category of the N.C. Department of Agriculture’s Best Dish in North Carolina contest. That competition recognizes chefs and restaurants that use local ingredients.

Doss and his longtime friend Josh Novicki are developing Hall’s Rx inside the old Hall’s Drug Store, 421 Castle St, at 5th Avenue. A spring opening is planned.

Doss anticipates a homey Southern, seasonally changing menu including traditional and modern dishes.

Doss clocked time at downtown’s Elijah’s and mid-town’s late Harvest Moon, now Nicola’s Italian Restaurant, 5704 Oleander Dr. Well-known Husk in Charleston, S.C., was his last stop.

Variations on shrimp and grits and light sauces for seafood are among menu selections under consideration.
Expect fried chicken and collards, too, as well as burgers and sandwiches. He and Novicki being from Goldsboro, N.C., one of the state’s barbecue capitals, Doss also wants whatever barbecue pit local regulations might allow.

The Fire on the Dock bracket-style matches happen weekly from March 26 to May 22. Diners’ opinions of dishes account for 70 percent of chefs’ final scores. Tickets are on sale for each match.

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