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Preparing for a food fight 

Freshness is Chef Philip Lloyd's combat move

When Philip Lloyd was in high school, his father told him to get a job at a restaurant because he ate too much. But like most teens, he was growing and developing a love of food in the process. That love would lead him to become a chef, specializing in well-prepared food that's made-from-scratch with fresh ingredients. His last job was manning the kitchen of Country Club of Salisbury and he's currently an independent chef and full-time culinary instructor at The Art Institute of Charlotte, where he teaches students about American regional cuisine and the fundamentals of cooking.

Lloyd is a longtime Charlottean — he's called the city home since moving here in 1989 — and remembers his early days in the Q.C. when barbecue and fried fish dominated the culinary scene. In our conversation, he stresses the importance of healthy eating and fitness. When we spoke he was preparing for a 10K, as well as participation in Queen City Food Fight, a culinary competition that puts the NC Chapter of the American Culinary Federation Team against Piedmont Culinary Guild Team for six rounds of cooking and a three-course meal that will be judged by a panel of local celebrities and folks attending the foodie throwdown.

Creative Loafing: The Piedmont Culinary Guild team seems to be heavy on chefs from local restaurants, while the American Culinary Federation — the team that you're on — is comprised of more independent chefs and culinary instructors. Would you say that is a reflection of the two organizations?

Philip Lloyd: Those really represent that make up of the organizations. PCG has a lot of local restaurant chef's and the ACF is locally and nationally a lot of educators, hotel chefs, country club chefs and not as many independent restaurant chefs. Both groups represent what we each are and each organization is really good. There are some people who are even members of both.

What do you think your team will bring to the table for the Queen City Food Fight and how is your team preparing beforehand?

We're going to bring really good local food to the table and we expect our opponents to do the same. We're pulling things from all the local connections we have with farmers and vendors. We'll be doing four different courses overall, so we've been trying to plan ahead by meeting once a week and working on the menu together. We'll have a practice run and then be ready to go on Sunday.

What kind of advice do you give to students and food novices who are seriously looking to become a chef?

I tell them they have to bring every part of who they are. You've got to bring everything you've got. You've got to bring your energy. You've got to bring your mind. You've got to bring your heart, your soul and your time. To be a chef takes everything that you are. My food philosophy is to cook everything from the heart yourself. Don't open up any cans. I tell the students there's no such thing as a certified can opener. The fresher you can get, the better. There's another thing you need to tell young chefs, too. They have to stay physically fit because it is a physically demanding job. It's not a party network of a job; it really is a physically demanding profession.

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