Local Chef and Mixologist Earn Coveted Titles at the NCRLA Chef Showdown

Chefs working in a kitchen.
Michael Browning

The North Carolina Restaurant & Lodging Association (NCRLA) has announced the winners of the fourth annual NCRLA Chef Showdown in Durham.

Steven Goff of AUX Bar in Asheville won the coveted NCRLA Chef of the Year, Jamie Turner of Earl’s Grocery and Soul Food Sessions in Charlotte earned NCRLA Pastry Chef of the Year and Johnny Burritt representing Apothecary Beverage Company in Asheville took home NCRLA Mixologist of the Year.

There were 20 chefs across North Carolina that were in the final running for the savory and sweet titles, judged by a panel of industry experts based on the presentation and taste of the dish as well as the best use and number of local North Carolina ingredients on each plate. Attendees also voted for their favorite dishes and drinks to determine the People’s Choice award winners for Savory, Pastry and Specialty Cocktail & Distillery.

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For the first time ever, NCRLA introduced five statewide preliminary rounds ahead of two regional rounds in Raleigh and Charlotte. A total of 42 savory and pastry chefs collectively competed in a preliminary round in Morehead City, Asheville, Charlotte, Greensboro or Chapel Hill, with the hopes of moving forward.

Here is the complete list of 2019 winners:

– Chef of the Year: Steven Goff, AUX Bar, Asheville

– Pastry Chef of the Year: Jamie Turner, Earl’s Grocery and Soul Food Sessions, Charlotte

– Mixologist of the Year: Johnny Burritt, representing Apothecary Beverage Company, Asheville

– Distillery of the Year: Apothecary Beverage Company, Asheville

– People’s Choice Savory: Cory Haigler, The Westin Charlotte, Charlotte

– People’s Choice Pastry: Tie Whittaker, Buttermilk Boutique, Raleigh

– People’s Choice Specialty Cocktail & Distillery: Jimmy Huyhn, representing Copper Barrel Distillery, Wilkesboro

The North Carolina Department of Agriculture Culinary also named its Culinary Ambassador Team, compiling an elite team of chefs who will be the culinary voice of the NCDA. Goff, Richard Gras, Haigler, Turner, Whittaker and Mary Jayne Wilson will advocate the use of North Carolina food and beverage products in restaurants and retail outlets across the state.

A special thanks to presenting sponsor, Got to Be NC Agriculture. For more information about the NCRLA Chef Showdown, visit ncrla.org/chefshowdown.