Charlotte Chef Chris Coleman has done it again. He went on Food Network and came home with another award. This time, however, he cannot technically say he won.
Charlotte’s ‘Chopped’ champion who switched to ‘Beat Bobby Flay’ has been asked to return to the network for ‘Alex vs. America“, which brings chefs from across the country to compete in an attempt to eliminate the leader Alex Guarnaschelli, a frequent Food Network judge, Iron Chef and a highly accomplished culinary artist. Each episode features three chefs in two rounds of competition, complete with blind tastings and celebrity judges.
This week’s cheese-themed episode yielded the most unexpected results and a first for the series — a tie between Coleman and the show’s namesake, Guarnaschelli. (For a full episode synopsischeck out the story of Unpretentious Palate.)
“I barely snuck into the final round as an underdog. I didn’t think I had a chance to beat Alex or even place,” Coleman told CharlotteFive. “I’m not a cheese expert, but I’ve been in the industry for 24 years and had plenty of time to research and experiment with ingredients.”
Soft cheese ice cream
The last challenge was to find a soft cheese dessert. Coleman, chef and co-owner of NoDa’s The Goodyear House and Rock Hill’s Food and cocktails from the old town, tapped into its roots to create a dish that would wow: caramelized white chocolate cookies with Robiola cheese ice cream and a raspberry and apricot purée.
“Growing up, I spent a lot of summers on my grandparents’ farm in Mississippi, where my Maw Maw was always baking us cast iron cookies,” said Coleman, a Charlotte native who participated in the program. Culinary Arts of Harding High and Central Piedmont. “I had played with white chocolate cookies before while at McNinch House, and as soon as they said ‘soft cheese dessert’ my mind went to soft cheese ice cream . Everything fell into place. »
The judges loved the dish. But they also loved Guarnaschelli’s cheesecake and declared a tie. Coleman would win a compromised prize of $7,500 (compared to $10,000 had he won), which will come in handy on an upcoming trip to Costa Rica for his wife’s 40th birthday.
“It was surreal,” Coleman said. “In my head, I was just going to make my grandmother’s cookies on national TV, and that’s a personal win.”
Coleman credits this time on his grandparents’ farm for inspiring his budding culinary mind. His career spanned from beginning as a 14-year-old bus boy at Captain’s Galley in Huntersville to becoming executive chef at McNinch House at 21 and director of dining experience at Charlotte’s Marriott Center City.
More recently he partnered with Sean Potter & AJ Klenk to form the Restoration Group Built on hospitalitywhich has the ambitious goal of opening five restaurants in five years (the first two being Goodyear House and Old Town).
“I don’t think I’m the most exciting TV personality. But I know food…’
Daily restaurant operations keep him busy, but he’s not ruling out another reality show. Coleman said that usually every time he goes on a show, the door opens for another opportunity. He hopes that’s still the case and says his dream is to appear on Bravo “Excellent chef” or food web “Tournament of Champions”.
“I’m always up for a challenge,” Coleman said. “It’s fun to meet other chefs from across the country. It’s networking in a really cool way.
When asked why he kept getting calls from Food Network producers, Coleman humbly replied, “I don’t think I’m the most exciting TV personality. But I know the food, and I think they just want people who are confident and have a story to tell.
“Every time I’m on, I make it my mission to talk about my hometown of Charlotte and the ingredients we can source locally here in North Carolina. Guess there’s something about a guy from the south.
“Alex against the cheeseis available on demand on Food Network. The episode will also air again at 2 p.m. Sunday.