The seven-year-old Best Dish in NC summer local food contest has been replaced this year with the Dig Into Local Challenge. Tim Parrish, NCDA Food Service Marketing Specialist:

“As with any program, you are always looking to take it and improve it. We decided we were going to table our Best Dish and do something a little fresher and more current. That is why we will do the Dig Into Local 90 Day Challenge.”

Parrish outlines the parameters of the program:

“The Dig Into Local 90 Day Challenge offers them a branding name to use in their restaurants. We are asking chef’s to commit to the ideals to the program and support it as best they can for the next 90 days. We want it to be as simple as signing up and using the brand and purchase more local product.”

Parrish says that the restaurants committed to the program thus far are a good representation of the state:

“We have representation from the West Jefferson side mountain area to the well-known Harvest Moon Grill in Charlotte, we have the triad area and a lot of participants involved in the competition dining series in the triangle. We have about 29 participants so it’s a good start for a first year.”

Unlike the Best Dish in NC program where restaurant patrons could vote, the judging for Dig Into Local will be within the department says Parrish:

“The judging will be a small group of people within the department here that will take all of the entries and look at the menu items, how it was created and what products were used. We will look at how creative the menu is, how often its changed and how many products were used.”

At the end of the promotion period the ‘winner’ will receive a marketing and business plan especially designed for them by the NCDA marketing and promotions team. is dedicated to serving the agricultural industry in the Carolinas and Virginia with the latest ag news, exclusive regional weather station readings, and key crop market information. The website is a companion of the Southern Farm Network, provider of daily agricultural radio programming to the Carolinas since 1974. presents radio programs, interviews and news relevant to crop and livestock production and research throughout the mid-Atlantic agricultural community.