The North Carolina Dining Series is at it again. This year, the event brings diners a six-course meal, “Iron Chef” style, while watching a battle between two chefs competing for the Triangle regional title — one of which will move on the state championship later this year. Some of the chefs selected to compete throughout the region are Rhett Morris of Rhett’s and Curt Shelvey of Curt’s Cucina in Southern Pines, Christopher Hill of Faire and Benjamin Harris of Midtown Grille in Raleigh and Benjamin Gaumin of Governer’s Club in Chapel Hill.

Over the year, while chefs battle head-to-head, they’ll get information on a mandatory secret ingredient shortly before dinner preparation. Chefs will encounter traditional Southern ingredients, including possibilities of hominy, black-eyed-peas or collard greens. All secret ingredients are sourced by local farmers or companies that use fresh ingredients. In recent battles, chefs quickly prepared their gourmet dishes using the following surprise ingredients: Johnston County Ham’s Mangalitsa ham, Sunny Creek Farm’s sprouts, Ran-Lew Dairy’s cream top milk & chocolate milk, Baker’s peanuts, Perry Lowe Orchard’s apples, High Rock Farm’s chestnut flour and Harrell Hill Farm’s sorghum syrup molasses, and Chapel Hill Creamery’s calvander cheese.

Photos: Slow-roasted lamb loin, foie gras, Fuji apple, Scott Farm’s sweet potato purée, Bing cherry sweet potato glaze by Chef Shane Ingram of Four Square in Durham (above left). Morris, our OutreachNC  “Cooking Simple” columnist, is seen plating Fortnight ESB-braised venison, osso bucco, Videri cocoa nib-rosemary logan turnpike grits cake, roasted kalette, and caramelized fennel, the secret ingredient being the cocoa nibs (above right).

For more information: Rhett’s, Videri Chocolate, Four Square or the NC Dining Competition, go directly to their websites at:,, and