Best Dish in N.C. contest expands with focus on regional specialties
The Best Dish in North Carolina restaurant contest is expanding this year as it continues to recognize the best menu items created by chefs featuring local products and ingredients.
For the first time in the contest's six-year history, it will be divided into three regions: Western, Piedmont and Eastern. Each region will have 10 finalists (five in casual dining and five in fine dining).
"We saw a need to split into three regions to highlight the menu diversity throughout our state," said Tim Parrish, contest coordinator and foodservice marketing specialist with the N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.
The contest also will place more emphasis on the overall creativity of entries. "Chefs can now focus on what they do best – create dishes that feature local N.C. products," said Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler.
With the contest's focus redefined, the department has established new judging criteria. They include the overall use of N.C. products and ingredients in the entry; the depth of the farm-to-table connection of each entry; creativity in using local ingredients in the dish's preparation; originality and uniqueness of entries; and overall appeal and value.
The core mission of Best Dish hasn't changed, Parrish said. "We still want to highlight the skill and creativity of North Carolina chefs while showcasing the food products grown and processed in North Carolina," he said. "It encourages consumers to dine at restaurants that serve and feature local products on their menus, which in turn, helps the restaurants and farmers involved."
Entry deadline is March 31. Visit www.bestdishnc.com for contest information and applications.
The contest is sponsored by the N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services and Our State magazine.