For 11 days each October, the N.C. State Fairgrounds turns into a delicious culinary playground. This season, the North Lobby of the Dorton Arena will have the sensational aromas of home chefs cooking their best recipes in hopes of winning $500 and bragging rights in the 2022 Home Chef Challenge.
Raeford resident Dewayne Smith has attended the N.C. State Fair for 35 years. This season he is ready to chow down on homemade chili as one of the panel judges for The Great Bowls of Fire Chili Cook-Off presented by Carolina Cooker.
When Smith read about the contest in the State Fair newsletter, he did what you would expect a food lover to do. He sent an email back jokingly asking if they needed a public judge.
“I never thought they would take me up on my offer, but I am sure glad they did,” laughed Smith. “I chose chili to judge because I love to make a meat chili myself.”
When he is not working as manager of the Full Moon Oyster Bar and Seafood Kitchen in Moore County, he’s cooking chili in his kitchen along with some other comfort foods.
“I don’t even use a chili recipe. I do it all by taste,” explained Smith. “I like a combination of sweetness and heat, but the key to good chili is to cook it on low and slow.”
Smith’s no-recipe chili simmers on the stove for about six hours. He uses ground beef or sausage or sometimes both in his creation. You will not find a bean in his chili, though.
“I don’t do beans, but I will top it with cheese and some crackers,” added Smith.
Even though Smith chooses not to add beans to his chili, he looks forward to tasting the different varieties the home chefs may present to the judges.
“I thought this would be a good year for me to scope out my competition for future contests,” Smith said with a chuckle. “I am excited about tasting the diverse recipes I’m sure people have in their families.”
Smith will be judging The Great Bowls of Fire Chili Cook-Off presented by Carolina Cooker at 2 p.m. on October 16. He will attend the fair with his wife, Kristen, and their two children.
If you think you have what it takes to spice up the competition, all entries to the 2022 Home Chef Challenge need to be submitted by October 3.
The N.C State Fair will hold the following challenges during the 2022 fair.
Oct. 14- 10 a.m.: Brownie Showdown presented by Humana
Oct. 16- 2 p.m.: Great Bowls of Fire Chili Cook-Off presented by Carolina Cooker
Oct. 18- 11 a.m.: Brain Food Healthy Grain Bowl Challenge presented by Wegmans
Oct. 19- 11 a.m.: Tip Top Sirloin Salad Challenge presented by the N.C. State Fair
Oct. 23- 10 a.m.: Quirky Cobbler Challenge presented by the N.C. State Fair