How To Play it Cool When You Eat & Drink Too Much At The Annual NC Chef Showdown

We’ve all been there, that moment in time when you realize you’re too uncomfortable to sit down, you can’t stand the thought of having another bite of food, your alcoholic beverage that is absolutely beautiful, has no curb appeal at all anymore, and all you want to do is put on your pajamas and think about what you’ve done,… and hope that maybe, just maybe, your food belly – coma like state, won’t last more than a few hours. Don’t lie to me, you’ve been here and you know it. 

This was me about two weeks ago and unfortunately, it wasn’t the normal acceptable excuse of, “The Holidays”. It happened to me on August 21st, 2017, on just your normal and average Monday. Even worse, MONDAY! The one day at the beginning of the week where everything you want to do is perfect, so you can set the precedent for the rest of the days ending in Y. Nope, not this week.

Food, and really really great food, is a privilege. Two weeks ago I was honored with the pleasure of attending my first NC Chef Showdown Event, and it was everything I had hoped it would be, and more. To be surrounded by some of the best mixologists, pastry chefs, chefs, food bloggers, and food industry leaders in one room, was a truly amazing experience. From the moment you walk through the door and grab your name tag, it’s on! Just like everyone else I was given 3 tickets; 1 to vote for mixologist of the year, 1 to vote for pastry chef of the year, and 1 for chef of the year.

Now sure, you don’t have to try everything available but, how is one supposed to cast an honest and true vote without trying at least one bite from everyone? I couldn’t cast my votes without knowing I did my part and taste everything so, that’s exactly what I did. I had my favorite gold sparkly skirt on, (pretending it was sweatpants), and I walked around and wined and dined myself like a true champion. The chefs were on point, the drinks were top of the line, and the desserts, those desserts made me feel like I myself, was a melting pile of chocolate. So creamy, so delicious, so meticulously planned and sought after, so perfect. 

The respect level for those in the restaurant industry will never be high enough if you ask me. Well, I’m biased because I am in the restaurant industry but, there is so much planning and prepping, testing, buying, rebuying and retesting, panicking, and trying not to panic, giving it 110% and knowing that pleasing everyone is the most impossible task on the planet, but yet, never giving up. It’s such a beautiful and specific process, and I have nothing but respect for everyone who wakes up every morning and accepts this challenge day in and day out. 

I survived my experience by smiling a lot, like, a lot! I also took small bites of everything to save as much room as possible. I drank some water too. I would try a chef’s dish, then a pastry dish, then hop on over to one of the mixologists stands and see what they had going on. After about 4 rounds of this, that is when “the game face”, really comes into play. It was a little warm in the event space, and as I looked around to browse the room I could see people fanning themselves and clinging to their bottled water, and that’s when I knew I wasn’t alone in this feeling.

Things to remember: Talk to people to distract yourself for a while, and mingle! There are so many fantastic people in this room every year, and to not mingle would be like buying a ticket and not eating! Also, pace yourself. (You’ll thank me for that note if you attend this event next year.) 

Now that I’ve share with you why I was beyond Thanksgiving full, and why it took me 24 hours to recover, I hope you enjoy these photos as much as I enjoyed consuming my way through City Market to make this blog post possible. Thank you to the Hibernian for the opportunity to mingle with fantastic restaurant industry leaders at the NCRLA conference this year, and thank you to everyone at the NCRLA who made this conference possible. I have made many new friends these past two years and look forward to seeing everyone again next year in Charlotte, NC! 

To read more about the event and why you should attend year after year, click on the link below to visit The N&O Website, and get details about the Chefs and where they work! Chef Showdown N&O Article

Lastly, call an Uber or Lyft for a ride home, you’ll need a sober driver 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

All photos by Gillian Rose McLane