The Got to Be N.C. Competition Dining Series faces off two local chefs in a single-elimination, blind-dinner format. The menu is created around a North Carolina ingredient that is revealed at noon on the day of the competition. This secret ingredient must be used in each of the courses — appetizer, entree and dessert. The initial rounds of the competition were held in Asheville, Blowing Rock, Charlotte, Greensboro, Raleigh and Wilmington. The winning chefs then competed against each other in a single-elimination tournament in Raleigh called the Final Fire.
Fortes went up against Chef Dean Thompson of Flights in Raleigh for the final battle. The secret ingredients were Apple Mill Apple Butter, Atlantic Caviar and Biltmore Winery Sparking Wine Blanc de Blanc. Fortes won $4,000, a hand-forged set of knives and a trip to the pro-chef program at the CIA Greystone campus in Napa Valley. For more details on the final battle, check out WRAL’s blog post of the event.
Below is one of Chef Fortes’ favorite recipes, Crispy North Carolina Brussels Sprouts. Brussels sprouts are now in season and available at your local farmers market or grocery store.
Crispy North Carolina Brussels Sprouts
1) In a large sauce pot, heat vegetable oil over medium high heat to about 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
2) Slowly drop Brussels Sprouts into oil. (Be careful here the oil will pop!)
3) Allow Brussels to get crispy about 2 to 3 minutes.
4) Remove Brussels sprouts onto a paper towel-lined bowl and season with salt and pepper
5) Toss with Balsamic reduction and bacon bits
6) Enjoy immediately
1) In a small sauce pot bring vinegar to a boil.
2) Reduce to a simmer and allow vinegar to reduce by half, about 20 to 30 minutes.
3) Whisk in honey and simmer for additional five minutes.
4) Remove from heat and allow sauce to thicken as it cools.
Fortes serves this dish at his new restaurant The Flipside Cafe in Fort Mill, SC.