Rex Healthcare Chef Wins Got to Be NC Competition Dining Series' Triangle Tournament

Top Quote Chef Ryan Conklin Takes Home Regional Title, Moves on to Statewide Championship. End Quote
  • Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill, NC (1888PressRelease) March 14, 2015 - The Got to Be NC Competition Dining Series, a single-elimination tournament highlighting the best of the state's food, agriculture and culinary talent, has named a regional winner for the Triangle series. Chef Ryan Conklin of Rex Healthcare brought home the title last night in the battle of cheese and Certified Angus Beef. Conklin beat out Chef Curt Shelvey of Curt's Cucina in Southern Pines in the final dinner competition after rising to the top of the 16-chef regional tournament that started back in January.

    In front of a sold out crowd of 170 people, the Triangle battle challenged the chefs to use two featured ingredients, Certified Angus Beef Short Loin and Uno Alla Volta Cheeses. One of the crowd favorites of the night and the highest scoring dish of the whole battle was Conklin's sixth course, which included Uno Alla Volta ricotta-toffee cornmeal upside down cake, ricotta semifreddo, Meyer lemon-blueberry compote, ricotta-vanilla bean cannoli cream, pine nut crumble and a balsamic-white peach coulis. (See complete scores and dishes here.)

    "When we found out that the featured ingredient was mozzarella, I couldn't believe it," said Chef Conklin. "I was anxious to go up against a guy who owns his own Italian restaurant, but my team and I came here to win and prove that we're more than just hospital food. I couldn't have done it without my teammates Steve Pexton and Collin Jennings - I owe this victory to them."

    As part of his Triangle winnings, Conklin took home a $2,000 cash prize, a handmade chef knife by Ironman Forge and the coveted "Red Chef Jacket" provided by ALSCO. Additionally, the Rex Healthcare team moves on to the final battle of champions in October where they will compete against the winners from each of the other North Carolina tournaments.

    "The Got to Be NC Dining Series is an incredibly unique experience, and last night's nail-biter was no exception," said Jimmy Crippen, Competition Dining Series founder and host. "Chef Ryan Conklin had been surprising diners since his first event. Many people underestimated the culinary skill and creativity of a hospital chef. He continually exceeded expectations, created delicious, inspiring dishes, and more than earned the final win!"

    In every Got to Be NC Competition Dining Series dinner event, two chef teams battle it out preparing three courses each centered on a featured North Carolina ingredient that is revealed only an hour before they start cooking that day. Ticketed dinner guests savor a full-service, six-course meal without knowing which chef prepared which dishes. Unlike any other cooking competition, attendees vote on each course using a free app, and ultimately help determine who moves on to the next round.

    Monday night's battle was neck and neck from the start, and the chefs headed into the final two courses separated by just 0.02 points. In the end it was Conklin's dessert that literally "took the cake," and clutched the victory for his team.

    The Got to Be NC Competition Dining Series now moves on to Charlotte with that regional competition heating up starting March 22. Additional information and ticket reservations are available at

    About The Got to Be NC Competition Dining Series
    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®, Pepsi Bottling Ventures, Libbey, ALSCO, NC Egg Association, Hits Technology, Joyce Farms and local partners in each region of the state. The goal of the series is to celebrate local North Carolina products and agriculture, and to showcase the culinary ingenuity and talent across the state. For more information, visit or get in on the conversation at and ( @ ) CompDiningNC on Twitter or Instagram.

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