Adam Hayes, executive chef of the Red Stag Grill in Asheville, won the 2013 Dig into Local Challenge sponsored by the N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.
More than 30 restaurants in the state took on the challenge to showcase local, fresh North Carolina products on their menus from June through August.
"We really wanted the chefs to connect specific ingredients to local farms," said Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler. "I can't think of a better time to educate consumers about North Carolina products. It truly hits home because you can taste the difference."
The Red Stag Grill is located inside the Grand Bohemian Hotel in downtown Asheville. Its menu focuses on European-style comfort food using the freshest local ingredients selected by Hayes from nearby farms.
"Chef Hayes is a natural for the Dig into local challenge program," said Tim Parrish, foodservice marketing specialist with the department. "He displays quite a passion for fresh, local food products and has created many lasting relationships with area farms. He talks the talk and walks the walk when it comes to using local food on the menu."
Hayes takes his culinary staff and servers on monthly field trips to local farms that supply products to the hotel. He believes this knowledge will benefit them when they prepare and serve the food to their customers.
Chefs participating in the challenge were required to customize a menu that identifies local ingredients and the farm, producer or processor. As supply increased during the height of the growing season, menus should have reflected that abundance in both ingredients and farms being used.
"The Dig into Local competition really challenges North Carolina chefs to create as many menu options tied to North Carolina products as possible," Troxler said.
For winning the challenge, Hayes will receive a customized marketing package.
For more information about the challenge, visit www.gottobenc.com.