Story originally appeared on FoodCary.
Cary, NC – Since the Summer, Cary chef Ryan Summers has been cutting his way through North Carolina’s Competition Dining Series and came out on top as the winner of the Battle of Champions. Even more impressive, this is Summers’ first year competing.
At the finals of the Battle of Champions on Sunday, November 20, 2016, Summers and Team Mirepoix, made up of team leader Franz Propst from Peak City Grill and Bar in Apex and Tom Halik from Main Street Grille Café and Bakery in Wake Forest, defeated the Sedgefield Culinary Crushers from Greensboro’s Sedgefield Country Club.
Team Mirepoix made it into the Battle of Champions after winning the Raleigh division of the North Carolina Competition Dining Series, just as the Culinary Crushers won the Greensboro division.
While Summers built up experience while competing in the Raleigh tournament in July, he and his teammates did not have experience in cooking competitions before the Competition Dining Series. Through it all, Summers said the team’s cooperation and teamwork helped them succeed.
“We tried each other’s dishes throughout the day and made sure we were on the same page,” Summers said. “A lot of the other teams looked like they worked on their own dishes. They did divide and conquer while we came together.”
However, Summers said he and Propst deferred to Halik when it came to dessert and baking since that is his area of expertise.
The Competition Dining Series used a tournament bracket with teams tasked with making three dishes each while diners anonymously judged what they ate. Teams had to use certain ingredients in all or most of their dishes, with everything coming from North Carolina farms or producers. The Dining Series was a collaboration with the “Got To Be NC” initiative to promote local food.
Inspiring and Invigorating
Summers, who is the executive chef at Chef’s Palette Restaurant and Bar in Cary, said the competition allowed him to meet a lot of chefs and restauranteurs from around the state and network while also learning from the way they work.
“Everyone’s got their own style and seeing their influences and plating style was interesting,” Summers said.
As for his own style, Summers said he and teammate Propst are very similar. That makes sense, considering Summers used to work under Propst at his restaurant.
“We focus on Southern simplicity and clean flavors and that’s what we focused on in the competition,” Summers said. “We didn’t get out of that box and it worked out well.”
Summers said he has also seen an increased interest in Chef’s Palette since winning the Raleigh region and especially now the Battle of Champions.
“We’ve seen people come in who hadn’t been here before, because of the competition,” he said.
Through his victory, Summers said he feels inspired and invigorated and appreciates all the chefs who were a part of the competition.
“We work hard in our daily lives and it feels good to be recognized,” he said.
There are not currently any plans for a Competition Dining Series next year as they are looking for a new presenting sponsor.
Chef’s Palette Restaurant and Bar is located on 3460 Ten Ten Rd. in Cary.
Story by Michael Papich. Photos by Michael Papich and Competition Dining Series.