NC Commissioner Troxler: NC Culinary Ambassadors

Three North Carolina chefs, three pastry chefs and three mixologists from across the state were recently named Got to
Be NC Culinary and Beverage Ambassadors after winning in the N.C. Restaurant and Lodging Association’s Chef Showdown.

Not only are North Carolina farmers able to grow a variety of great products, but the state is blessed with tremendous culinary talent that can turn those products into delicious meals and drinks.

• We saw evidence of that during this year’s North Carolina Restaurant and Lodging Association’s Culinary Showdown


• This competition began back in March with a record 94 competitors vying for the top awards.

• That number was reduced to 24 contestants through five preliminary rounds, two semifinal rounds, and two mixology rounds.

• At the recent Grand Finale, which was held at the Pavilion at the Angus Barn, the Best Chef and Best runner-up Chef, Best Pastry Chef and runner-up, Best Mixologist and runner-up, plus the People’s Choice winners in each of those categories as voted on at the Grand Finale were named and now become our 2023-2024 Got to Be NC Culinary Ambassadors.

• They represent restaurants, bars and distilleries across the state.

• Restaurants of the winning chefs include Dounou Cuisine of Raleigh, Native Fine Diner and Julep Contemporary Kitchen in Greenville, Country Club of North Carolina in Pinehurst, Wye Hill Hospitality in Raleigh, and Ivory Road Café and Kitchen in Arden.

• Bars include Merle’s of Wilkesboro, Foundation of Raleigh and Lavender & Libations in Charlotte.

• One of the best parts of this competition is that products from more than 400 North Carolina farms were part of menus and drinks created by the winners.

• In using these farm products, chefs and mixologists were able to showcase the freshness and flavors of local foods.

• I want to thank the N.C. Restaurant and Lodging Association for also honoring me and the N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services with its Partner of the Year Award at the Grand Finale.

• We are proud to partner with the association on this culinary showcase of the great restaurants we have in the state, the culinary talent that is here, plus the variety of farm fresh products we all can enjoy.

• During the Mountain State Fair, coming up Sept. 8-17, and the State Fair, running Oct. 12-22, fairgoers will have an opportunity to see some of these food and beverage ambassadors in action on the Got to Be NC Cooking Stage that is part of the Got to Be NC Pavilion exhibit at both fairs. Be sure to check them out when you are at the fairs or plan to visit them at their businesses.