On March 19, five of Charlotte's top chefs will compete in Creative Loafing's second annual culinary competition Iron Fork. Our readers voted for their favorite local chefs during a nomination period, and the five with the most votes made the cut to participate in the fight for the prestigious Golden Fork.
Guests of the event will not only see a sizzling competition, but will enjoy cocktails and samples from local restaurants. For more info on the event, visit www.clclt.com/events.
Now, let's meet the chefs whose culinary prowess earned them a spot in the foodie fray.
The Reigning Champion
Geoff Bragg of Lulu Dine & Wine
His edge: "I am bringing Brent Martin; he's, like, another me, if not better."
Theme song: "I Can't Go for That" by Hall and Oates
Battle cry: "HAWP!" (The way a kung fu stylist says it.)
To the competition, he says: "Losers buy the first four rounds!"
Alyssa Gorelick of Chef Alyssa's Kitchen
Her edge: "I have worked as a pastry chef as well as a vegetarian chef; I believe my diverse background gives me an edge."
Theme song: "Baba O'Riley" by the Who
Battle cry: "Girl Power!"
To the competition, she says: "I respect all of you and I'm so excited to compete. Let's put on a great show!"
Aaron Rivera of The Chrome Toaster
His edge: "The only for certain thing I can say I am bringing that no one else is would be my sous chef Jordan Anthony Nelson."
Theme song: "Chicken Head" by Three 6 Mafia and Project Pat.
Battle cry: "Battle cries should be left to the heroes, soldiers that protect and defend our country."
To the competition, he says: "Good luck, let's have fun, show what Charlotte chefs are made of, and let's have drinks afterwards!"
Luca Annunziata of Passion8 Bistro
His edge: "We are bringing something outside the box: molecular gastronomy, a new way of cooking."
What he learned from last year: "I believe that some advantages of this being my second year competing are knowing the layout of the pantry, how the competition was set up in regards to timing and how close my competitors were to me while cooking."
Theme song: "
The Sopranos theme song, or maybe the Godfather song, because I'm Italian."
Battle cry: "Sharpen your knives!"
To the competition, he says: "Get ready, we're going to bring something different to this battle."
Troy Gagliardo of WCCB News Rising & Motown Spice Provisions
His edge: "Extra weight and a back-up plan."
What he learned from last year: "Honestly, watching chef Geoff and chef Brent set up and execute the winning dish. They were right next to me on stage last year, and I took notice of how organized they were. I also know that having a few ideas of dishes to prepare will help so we aren't creating something on the spot."
Theme song: "Last Breath" by Lazarus A.D.
Battle cry: "Born to bleed, fighting to succeed, built to endure what this world throws at me."
To the competition, he says: "Shots after we battle!"