Monthly Archives: March 2016

foodie b’eat: Competition Dining Dates Announced…Get Your Pre-Sale Tix!!

Greetings, foodies!

Here’s the latest from our friends at the Got To Be NC Competition Dining Competition with schedule details for all the cities plus a link to PRE-SALE tickets!  The chefs are building their teams and we should know soon who’s on the Dream Teams. There will be teams this year in Winston-Salem AND in Greensboro, along with Raleigh, Durham, Charlotte and Wilmington and the winners of those cities will go to the battle of champions in the fall. And guess what? Once again, this year, I’ll be in WS and GSO for all the action so be sure to follow along at @compdiningnc on Twitter for photos and descriptions as well as chatter!  Below is a photo of last year’s winners. Winston-Salem’s own, Chef Richard Miller, of Graze, was our local winner and  Chef Ryan Conklin (second to left) of Rex Healthcare was state champ (that’s right…a HOSPITAL chef won…but Chef Ryan is no ordinary hospital chef.) Tickets are on sale beginning in April for the Durham event. Be sure to check out their webpage for PRE-SALE tickets . Many events sell out, so you might want to get a jump on it before tickets go on sale for the masses.

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Got to Be NC Competition Dining Series Announces 2016 Schedule with Battles in Six North Carolina Cities

Interactive Chef Tournament Launches Dream Team Concept for the Ultimate Dining Experience

The Got to Be NC Competition Dining Series, a single-elimination tournament highlighting the best of the state’s food, agriculture and culinary talent, is back for 2016 with a total of eight tournaments across the state, each made up of four chef teams vying for the local title. The touring competition will have dual brackets in both Raleigh and Charlotte, and one tournament in each of Durham, Winston-Salem, Greensboro and Wilmington. It all culminates in October with the Battle of Champions to name a statewide victor.

Applications for chefs interested in competing are currently being accepted for all locations. This year, the Got to Be NC Competition Dining Series is switching formats to allow chefs to create All-Star Dream Teams. The change allows chefs from different restaurants to partner together to create their three-person team, upping the potential caliber and creating a more fun and competitive atmosphere for all.

“We’re excited to introduce this new Dream Team concept that will further showcase the immense culinary talent and agriculture in North Carolina with the 2016 Got to Be NC Competition Dining Series,” said Jimmy Crippen, Competition Dining Series founder and host. “Our mission is to connect and celebrate with foodies across the state through this dynamic, entertaining culinary experience. We look forward to sharing unique chef collaborations with our diners to make for an unprecedented year of highly competitive events with innovative dishes like never before.”

Got to Be NC Competition Dining Series battles include two chef teams each preparing three courses centered on a featured ingredient that comes from a North Carolina farmer or artisan producer. Featured ingredients are revealed to the chefs the morning of the dinner event and must be used in every course. Ticketed guests get in on the action, savoring the full-service, six-course meals without knowing which chef prepared which plate. Alongside culinary and guest judges, diners rate each dish using an interactive app, ultimately determining who moves on to the next round and who goes home.

The 2016 Got to Be NC Competition Dining Series dinner battles will be held in:

Durham: April 18, 19 and 21
Winston-Salem: May 22, 23 and 25
Greensboro: June 20, 21 and 23
Raleigh (two brackets): July 11, 12, 14, 18, 19, 21 and a finale to name one Raleigh champion July 24
Charlotte (two brackets): Aug. 8, 9, 11, 22, 23, 25 and a finale to name one Charlotte champion Aug. 28
Wilmington: Sept. 19, 20 and 22

The six winners will move on to compete in the Battle of Champions at the end of the year. Since Raleigh and Charlotte teams must compete in an extra battle to win their local title, these chefs will receive a bye for the first round of the championship.

Tickets to attend an interactive dinner battle are $59 to $69 each and will officially go on sale for each series once that local bracket is announced. Discounted pre-sale tickets for all tournaments are available now for $10 less than standard pricing at http://www.competitiondining.com. Tickets are expected to sell out quickly, and people interested in attending are encouraged to signup for the Got to Be NC Competition Dining Series e-newsletter for the most recent ticket updates and news.

All chefs are invited to apply to compete in any of the six tournaments. The application and a complete list of rules are available at www.competitiondining.com/compete.

The Got to Be NC Competition Dining Series is sponsored by the NC Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services, Pate Dawson-Southern Foods,Certified Angus Beef®, and local and regional partners throughout the state. The goal of the series is to celebrate North Carolina products and agriculture, and to showcase the culinary ingenuity and talent across the state. For more information, visit http://www.competitiondining.com or get in on the conversation at www.facebook.com/competitiondining and @CompDiningNC on Twitter or Instagram.

foodie b’eat: Crafted Brings Its Art to Downtown Winston-Salem

From YES! Weekly….

If there’s one thing Chef Kristina Fuller has gotten the hang of, it’s how to create a bit of a clamor when it comes to “will she, won’t she?” or “what’s it going to be?” After two successful restaurants in Greensboro (Crafted— The Art of the Taco and Crafted—The Art of Street Food) Chef Fuller and her mom and business partner, Rhonda, finally announced what thousands have been hoping for a couple of years now…..Crafted—The Art of the Taco is coming to Winston-Salem. And very fittingly, to the Arts District downtown.

We’ve been talking to the Fullers for a couple of years now about expanding their “taco joint” (it’s not a Mexican restaurant) into the the Twin City. There’s always been a “oh, we want to,” from them. Then Street Food opened, so we waited. And I’ve even sent them photos of spaces for lease when I would run across them downtown. The dynamic mother/daughter team simply wanted to take their time and make sure they had the staff in place so that the chef could focus on a new restaurant. Fuller says they were ready and finally looking at a space along 4th Street when they got an email that the property at 527 N. Liberty Street was available. “it really just kind of chose us. We set up a meeting with the landlord and realized it was a great relationship. It’s perfect.”

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Owner, Mike Stinnett, has already gotten to work on improvements to the stand-alone building which used to be 3 different barbershops. The windows out front will be opened up even more, with an additional window being added to one side of the building for more light. There will be the Crafted customary open kitchen concept with a rustic, urban chic feel. Fuller says they plan on using one wall along the bar to feature the specials. The space already has exposed brick and the wood that is now the subfloor will be taken out and repurposed as table tops. “We really like to be as sustainable as possible and re-use what’s already here. Mike has barns and he’s just pulling fixtures from ” The main dining room will seat about 50, the bar will seat another 15 and the patio will hold about 28 seats. “We just want it rustic and a bit industrial, but clean and simple.” Fuller says elements of unexpected design like graffiti and chandeliers will be present at the new location as well. Fuller says Stinnett will be creating offices in the upstairs portion of the building. The lower level beneath the restaurant will be used for storage and hopefully be expanded into space for special events. “It has a lot of possibilities…art showings, parties, it’ll be a great space.”

There will be a small parking lot with about 14 spaces, then parking is usually pretty easy to find along Liberty Street. Fuller says they expect to be open in about 8 months. The Fullers also last week announced the opening of a food truck. Fuller says the truck will be used for special events but on she plans to have it On The Road 7 days a week, adding “We’ll also be putting the food truck out front at the WS location just to drum up excitement and word of mouth in the weeks leading up to the opening of the new taco joint this fall. We wouldn’t want folks to forget about us or wonder when we’re going to open.”

In the meantime, Fuller will be dividing her time between two successful restaurants and a food truck, with Street Food about to celebrate its one-year anniversary. Fuller says Crafted—The Art of Street Food opened with such fanfare that it took a while for them to find their ground. “In the beginning, we got hit so hard and sometimes we were on an hour wait and when it’s like that, you can’t always know what’s going wrong in the midst of all the crazy. But then the newness wore off and honeymoon phase was over and we were able to hone in on our recipes and know what was really working.” Fuller says the new menu that’s just come out is a reflection of that. “I feel like this is us perfecting all the food that people love, tweaking it and putting out what is a seriously good menu.” You’ll find a few more Asian dishes for sure, evidence of the chef’s recent travels. Fuller visited Thailand a couple of months back, so you will see some inspiration from trip like noodle dishes, Pad Thai, Thai curry shrimp, some Indian dishes and as always, favorite like poutine, Bao, and the ever-popular, ramen. Thank goodness….Fuller says, “Oh yeah, the ramen’s not going anywhere.”

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Wanna go? Well, you’ll have to wait until about October/November for the new location at 527 N. Liberty Street in Winston-Salem. Until then, find the Crafted On the Road wherever it may be or Crafted—The Art of the Taco at 219 S. Elm Street or Crafted—The Art of Street Food at 600 Battleground Avenue, Greensboro. eatatcrafted.com

foodie b’eat: Men Can Cook…and We Love It!

Foodies, let me let you know about an organization that is near and dear to my heart. SECU Family Home. A couple of weeks ago, I had the pleasure of attending the SECU Family Home’s Men Who Can Cook Fundraiser. Actually, I’ve been working with them over the past 9 months in preparation for this signature event, coordinating judges, assisting in the judging criteria, naming categories, etc. It was a great event and I really had a lot of fun being a part of it.

This was published recently in my Chow article in YES! Weekly.

Keep an eye out for 2017 and you can be a part of the 2nd annual event. It is a great time. And…you’ll want to come hungry!

The signature Men Who Cook benefitting SECU Family House was held Saturday, March 5 and more than 250 “friends of the house” were in attendance at the Historic Brookstown Inn to lend support to local amateur chefs. Amateur chefs? Only in the kitchen, but not really by the looks and taste of the delicious dishes prepared by these local movers and shakers in the Triad. Competing were local dignitaries, organizational leaders, and CEO’s competing as celebrity chefs who wanted to wow attendees’ tastebuds. The participants/teams were: Angelo Adamo (Walter Robbs architectural firm), Steve Berlin (Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton LLP), Jeff Clous of (Gwyn Electrical Plumbing Heating & Cooling), Tom Ferrell (Courtyard by Marriott), Harry Fitzgerald (VP of BBT Insurance Services)/Cameron Kent (News Anchor WXII), Gary Hauser/Gib McEachran /John Hardy (HMC Partners), Peter Juran (Blanco Tackabery), Kevin Kampman (Publisher of Winston-Salem Journa)l, Michael Lalor (CMO Hospice of WS), Jeff Lindsay (COO Novant Health), John McConnell (CEO WFMBC), John McPherson (Coldwell Banker Triad), Stanley Morgan /Tom Kenny, Robert Nichols (Wells Fargo), Elwood Robinson (Chancellor WSSU), Jose Rodriguez (KPMG LLP), Winston-Salem Police Chief Barry Rountree, Rick Smothers (Senior VP Reynolds American), Jim Sparrow (Pres. WS Arts Council /Joe Logan, and Trent Wall (Exec. NewBridge Bank). Those without teams were allowed to have a sous chef on hand. You could tell they were all having fun and they were definitely serving up some deliciousness.

The SECU Family House serves adult patients and caregivers traveling to Forsyth County for healthcare by providing supportive care and affordable family-focused accommodations. Proceeds from the event allow the Family House to continue serving those in medical crisis. In total, the Family House surpassed its goal in raising $75,000 including sponsorships, ticket sales, donations and raffles.

The event was the inaugural fundraiser for the five-year-old organization. SECU Family House executive director Kathy Carr said the mix and mingle party went well beyond their expectations. “We couldn’t have had this party without the food and talent of our chefs. It’s a lot of work. It really means a lot to not only have a good party but to meet the mission of providing affordable lodging and care for these families who, really….are just like you and me. They just have to travel to get their medical care. We’re all in this together. We appreciate that very much.”

Organizers thought it only fitting to invite a few “lady chefs/culinary professionals” to weigh in on the “pro” vote where the contestants dishes were judged and balloted for a few fun trophies.
They were: Claire Calvin of The Porch Kitchen & Cantina; Mary Haglund of Mary’s Gourmet Diner; Janis Karathanas of Providence Kitchen; Lynette Matthews-Murphy of Spring House Restaurant, Kitchen & Bar/Quanto Basta; and Lynn Warlick-Wells, Thyme Well Spent Personal Chef. Matthews-Murphy said she enjoyed being a part of it. “It’s interesting to see all the passion in these dishes. We work in this industry and it’s just so amazing to see that folks who aren’t in the industry find that passion that we also have.” She adds, “You know, people work all day and they come home and they get to be creative and cook for their family. And that’s how we started too…just creating in the kitchen and it’s wonderful to see that here.” Wells agreed, “Being the only judge from Greensboro, it was great to see all the folks here, meet some new people from all walks of life…. and the food was really good!”

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The “Ladies” Judges Panel: L to R: Mary Haglund (Mary’s Gourmet Diner); Claire Calvin (The Porch Kitchen & Cantina; Lynette Matthews-Murphy (Spring House Kitchen, Restaurant & Bar/Quanto Basta; Janis Karathanas (Providence Restaurant); Lynn Warlick Wells (Thyme Well Spent Personal Chef)

After the judges ballots were tabulated, the winners of the categories were:

Arts and Innovation Award (Most Creative): McConnell’s BBQ Green Beans
Dive Right In Award (Best Appearance/Presentation): Wall’s Spicy Apricot Glazed Chicken
Bonafide Award (Most Authentic): Chief Rountree’s Cops Chili
Yummy Award: (Tastiest): Hauser/McEachern/Hardy: Guacamole with Smoked Chicken

A “People’s Choice Award” was presented to the top chef who, in addition to donating their time for the event, raised the most tips in their tip jar. All donations support the Family House Mission. The SECU Family House only charges $35 a night to stay, but some folks may be in a financial crisis and those funds go to offset their stay. Winners of the People’s Choice Award was team Fitzgerald and Kent with their Pork Tenderloin. Kent said upon winning, “Events like this is what make Winston-Salem great. People see this turnout and they want to be a part of it. It’s a great cause and we’re so happy to be here.” In total “tip donations” the 20 chefs together raised over $10,000.

The event was such a resounding success that organizers know that they’ll be looking for a larger space for next year. For more information about SECU Family House, its mission, to learn how your organization or business can provide meals, and to learn more about Men Who Cook, visit familyhousews.org.

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Willow’s Bistro and a bit of a foodie b’eat

Photo Feb 28

We’ve been wanting to do a review of Willow’s Bistro featuring its new chef, Travis Myers. Travis is no stranger to the foodies and we love him just about to pieces. Here’s a piece of work a couple of months in the making as mr. foodie and I have hopped over to Willow’s a couple of times just to get a feel of the deliciousness. Truly it’s so fun to watch Chef Travis come into his own.

Here’s my piece from YES! Weekly!  although feel free to keep reading for more of my personal spin.

Willow’s Bistro has always been a popular eatery in Winston-Salem and the food has always been pretty stellar, which keeps customers coming back. The open kitchen concept and great atmosphere are another plus. The brunch is one of the most popular in town. Last October, owner Will Kingery scooped up one of the city’s most endearing chefs, Travis Myers. Myers not only loves to cook, but he loves to talk about it too. You can count on Chef Travis for some good chatter when it comes to deliciousness. It’s one of the big things you notice as different when it comes to Willow’s new presence. Myers agrees, “We do a lot of social media here. A lot!” Seriously, follow chef on social media and he’ll take you on some food adventures plus tantalize your eyes with photos of beautiful food.

Myers spent ten years at River Birch Lodge, making a name for himself and honing his skills. Participating in wine dinners, special events, cooking competitions, you name it. Myers says, RBL helped him become the chef he is. “I have a great relationship with them, even after leaving. They witnessed everything major in my adult life from meeting my wife, Jen to our first child.” He says he loves the fact that a lot of the regulars that dine at RBL are regulars at Willow’s as well.

Myers says he and Will had bumped elbows the past few years and more frequently in the fall. Kingery was dividing his time between three restaurants, Willow’s, King’s Crab Shack, and Silo so he wasn’t able to spend as much time at Willow’s as he wanted. “We just started talking about working with each other,” Myers says. “He wanted someone to reflect his vision when he was a chef at Willow’s. Our son was getting old enough and it became a great opportunity to tap into my local passion and create more farm to table.” Myers says it didn’t take long before he knew he was meant to be in this new environment. “Everybody wants to be here and everybody wants to learn, to grow, and to be local.  Front of house and back of house are one complete team who work at just about all three locations, which makes us one big family. The stress level is relaxed outside of the banging of pots and pans during the normal lunch/dinner rush. Everybody pretty much does their job and is not lazy…it’s hard to explain really. We all are one tight family.”

Myers’ duties at Willow’s also fall well beyond the kitchen and keeping the business thriving is a huge part of his goals. “I’m developing a relationship with farmers, the community and our customers. I’m also in charge of developing a team but I also have to balance the business needs as well. Now that I have a grasp on the business, I can focus even more on the culinary part. We’re in the middle of launching a new menu in the next month. I want to make a move towards everything being made in-house.” You can see the new, more enhanced focus on local ingredients on the current menu. We have visited twice in the last couple of months just to get an idea of how the menu is transforming. Myers’ creativity is able to shine like never before.


From a delightful salad of roasted (yes roasted) olives, to his Bradford Watermelon molasses fries,it’s clear, the chef is having fun with local ingredients. Myers adds, “Nothing here is produced on a large scale and everything is touched by a chef. It matters.”

Myers adds that he wants to create more events as well, but go beyond the typical wine dinner. “Food and service is just part of an event. I want to host events that are created around people. More of a gathering, with food and beverage just being the vehicle for the event.” One such event was last Sunday’s Bourbon Dinner which featured five courses of locally-sourced ingredients, like Guilford Mills Grits, Hunter Farms apples, Lusty Monk Mustard, Border Springs Lamb and Fair Share Farms Micro Greens paired with bourbon inspired cocktails. Fifty-two guests enjoyed the night of pairings which ended with an olive oil cake paired with a Bourbon Root Beer Float. Like dessert with dessert! Even local energy drink, Sunshine, was infused with Jim Beam and lime juice for a palate cleanser. Not only did Myers get to show off some of his chef skills, but the innovative cocktails by the bar staff featuring various bourbons and whiskey were also a hit.

Recently, Myers’ former counterpart at RBL, Brent Andruzzi landed at Willow’s as well. Myers says he’s looking forward to working with the chef again. “I feel like we have a lot of the same passion and strive for building relationships with farmers and keeping everything in-house and local. He’s a big part of my team and will be at just about every event I will be at, but eventually he’ll be hosting his own and I will be helping. That’s the ‘team’ in us, just striving do do and get better.” Andruzzi says, “I enjoyed working with Travis and we started talking about it and the time just felt right to join him here.”

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Others are taking notice as well. If you’ll recall, last fall Chef Tim Thompson was the chef at Triad Local First’s Community Table. It’s an awesome event that raises money to fun TLF’s “Buy Local” holiday campaign. For the first time ever, TLF’s Community Table will feature a Winston-Salem chef and that chef is Travis Myers. This will be a great event for the chef to shine.

Myers says he’s enjoying playing up his new digs as #SOB40, aka South of Business 40. “For years at RBL I would refer to #SOB40 because all the marketing and volume seems to go to 4th Street and now Trade Street. Although, we have a restaurant on 4th (King’s Crab Shack), it is not our goal to take business away from those areas, but to create our very own location down here below Business 40. Kind of like creating our own district.” Myers laughs, “Who knows, maybe one day Alan will listen to my nagging and turn our movement into a district!”

One can only hope. For now, next time you see the hashtag, #SOB40, you’ll know what it means.

Willow’s Bistro is located at 300 S. Liberty Street, Winston-Salem.