The North Carolina Restaurant & Lodging Association, creator and host of the annual NCRLA Chef Showdown presented by Got to be NC Agriculture, announced the 21 chefs selected to compete in its third annual cooking competition. The chefs and pastry chefs, all based in North Carolina, advance after cooking up the highest-rated dishes across three regional competitions. The main NCRLA Chef Showdown event takes place on Monday, Aug. 27, at Aria at Founders Hall in the Bank of America Center in Uptown Charlotte, N.C.

“This year’s slate of contenders includes some of the most innovative and talented chefs in our state. At the showdown, these chefs will use North Carolina ingredients to demonstrate their creativity and shine a light on our incredible hospitality industry. Attendees will get a taste of why North Carolina’s culinary scene is one of the best in the nation,” says NCRLA president and CEO Lynn Minges.

Selected chefs – sorted into two food categories, savory and sweet – are vying for the 2018 “NCRLA Chef of the Year” and “NCRLA Pastry Chef of the Year” awards. Chefs will prepare and serve tasting-sized portions to event attendees. The dishes, judged by five culinary experts, receive scores on presentation, taste, and use of local ingredients from North Carolina.

The 15 savory chefs are:

  • Luca Annunziata, Caffe Siena, Charlotte
  • Sam Cahoon, Savorez, Wilmington
  • Antonio Campolio, Persimmons, New Bern
  • Thomas Card, Counting House at the 21c Museum Hotel, Durham
  • Chris Coleman, Stoke Charlotte, Charlotte
  • Teddy Diggs, Coronato, Chapel Hill
  • Matthew Hannon, Ashten’s, Southern Pines
  • Joseph Heskin, Oceanic, Wrightsville Beach
  • Thomas Marlow, Mimosa Grill, Charlotte
  • Travis Myers, Willows Bistro, Winston-Salem
  • Scott Ostrander, The Grand Bohemian Hotel, Asheville
  • James Patterson, Sedgefield Country Club, Raleigh
  • David Quintana, Dot Dot Dot, Charlotte
  • Matthew Shepard, McNinch House Restaurant, Charlotte
  • Brandon Shepard, Urban Street Eats Catering & Food Truck, Cedar Point

The six pastry chefs are:

  • Samantha Allen, The Fig Tree, Charlotte
  • Miranda Brown, The Asbury at the Dunhill, Charlotte
  • Gerald Hawkins, Gaston Country Club, Gastonia
  • Nicole Lourie, Counting House at the 21c Museum Hotel, Durham
  • Cody Middleton, Forsyth Country Club, Winston-Salem
  • Anika Rucker, Fahrenheit Charlotte, Charlotte

Back by popular demand, NCRLA will crown a 2018 “NCRLA Mixologist of the Year,” as six North Carolina distilleries partner with hand-picked bartenders to craft cocktails for guests and judges to enjoy. Distillery and mixologist teams will be announced in the coming weeks.

The NCRLA Chef Showdown presented by Got to Be NC Agriculture is on Monday Aug. 27, from 5:30 to 9 p.m. and coincides with the North Carolina Restaurant & Lodging Expo. For additional information or to purchase tickets to the 2018 NCRLA Chef Showdown, visit

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