Asheville Chefs to Compete in Preliminary NCRLA Chef Showdown Competition

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The North Carolina Restaurant & Lodging Association has announced the eight chefs competing in the second of five preliminary rounds leading up to the fourth annual NCRLA Chef Showdown.

The Showdown’s booming success inspired this year’s expanded format, introducing five preliminary rounds — the third to be held Monday, June 24, at Heirloom in Charlotte, N.C. — before the three regional rounds leading up to the final NCRLA Chef Showdown event.

Preliminary chef competitors will prepare and serve dishes to be judged by three culinary experts scoring on presentation, taste and use of local ingredients from North Carolina. This round’s four top scoring chefs will move on to the regional competition in Charlotte on Monday, Aug. 19 at Central Piedmont Community College, ultimately progressing to the finals on Monday, Sept. 30, at Angus Barn’s Bay 7 in Durham, N.C., where the coveted titles of “NCRLA Chef of the Year” and “NCRLA Pastry Chef of the Year” will be crowned. The preliminary and regional events are closed to the public.


The savory chefs are:

Paul Cressend Jr., Chiesa, Asheville, N.C.
Steven Goff, AUX Bar, Asheville, N.C.
Richard Gras, The Omni Grove Park Inn, Asheville, N.C.
– Cory Haigler, The Westin Charlotte, Charlotte, N.C.

The pastry chefs are:

– Brooke Crider, The Dugout Taphouse & Grill, Hendersonville, N.C.
Ryan Stipp, The Omni Grove Park Inn, Asheville, N.C.
– Gerald Hawkins, Gaston Country Club, Gastonia, N.C.
– Samantha Jo Smith, Sugar Island, Surf City, N.C.

The judges are:

– Chef Miranda Brown, 2018 Pastry Chef of the Year; The Asbury at the Dunhill Hotel, Charlotte, N.C.
– Chef Lucia Bobby, Pastry Chef, co-owner, Bobby Boy Bake Shop (slated to open in 2019), Winston-Salem, N.C.
– Chef John Bobby, co-owner, Bobby Boy Bake Shop (slated to open in 2019), Winston-Salem, N.C.

Established in 1947, the North Carolina Restaurant & Lodging Association (NCRLA) works to advance and protect North Carolina’s $23.5 billion restaurant, foodservice and lodging industry. The association provides access to the resources and support restaurant and lodging professionals need to lead thriving businesses, while serving as conscientious, contributing members of an unparalleled industry. To learn more information about NCRLA or its membership opportunities and cost-saving benefits, please visit