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Editor's Note: This story is unlocked for everyone to read courtesy of the CRVA, our partner in nourishing culinary exploration for residents and visitors of the Queen City.

August 10, 2023

Charlotte chefs travel to Raleigh for statewide contest

The NCRLA Chef Showdown honors chefs, mixologist of the year


by Kristen Wile

Ann Marie Stefaney is one of several Charlotte-area chefs and pastry chefs who will compete on Monday night in Raleigh. Photo courtesy

Ann Marie Stefaney is one of several Charlotte-area chefs and pastry chefs who will compete on Monday night in Raleigh. Photo courtesy

Several Charlotte-area chefs and mixologists will compete for the title of best in the state at the upcoming Chef Showdown hosted by the North Carolina Restaurant and Lodging Association.

The annual competition features several rounds; first, chefs grouped by region competed to advance in one of five preliminary contests beginning in May. Charlotte’s preliminary contest took place in June at Central Piedmont Community College, where judges tasted dishes from local contestants and scored them to see who would move on. Across the state, 76 chefs and pastry chefs competed in the first round. The regional rounds featured 20 chefs, who were then narrowed down to the competing 24 chefs (19 savory, five pastry).

At the event, which acts as a fundraiser for North Carolina’s hospitality advocacy group, a chef, mixologist, and pastry chef of the year will be named. Fan favorites will also be honored, based on attendees’ favorite dishes at the event. Winners and runners up become part of the state’s culinary ambassadors for the year. Last year, Oscar Johnson of Jimmy Pearls was named Chef of the Year.

Chefs: 
Olajuwon Mason, Kimpton Hotel
Michael Beers, River Run Country Club
Jamie Barnes, What the Fries

Pastry chefs: 
Savannah Broder, The Ballantyne Hotel
Ann Marie Stefaney, Restaurant Constance
Catie Van Slyke, Krispy Kreme

Mixologists:
Eli Privette, The Crunkleton
Sekani Akunyun, Lavender & Libations Experience

Each mixologist is paired with a North Carolina spirit, with Privette making a cocktail using Southern Distilling Co. and Akunyun using Seven Jars Distillery products.

The finals will take place on Monday, Aug. 14 in Raleigh at Angus Barn.
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