Got to Be NC Competition Dining Series: 2014 Final Fire Champion Jon Fortes

by | Jan 8, 2015

G2BNC Competition DiningOnce a month we highlight a chef and a recipe from the Got to Be N.C. Competition Dining series. This month, we are featuring Chef Jon Fortes of Mimosa Grill in Charlotte. Fortes is the 2014 Final Fire Champion. He describes his cooking style as upscale Southern comfort.

The Got to Be N.C. Competition Dining Series faces off two local chefs in a single-elimination, blind-dinner format. The menu is created around a North Carolina ingredient that is revealed at noon on the day of the competition. This secret ingredient must be used in each of the courses — appetizer, entree and dessert. The initial rounds of the competition were held in Asheville, Blowing Rock, Charlotte, Greensboro, Raleigh and Wilmington. The winning chefs then competed against each other in a single-elimination tournament in Raleigh called the Final Fire.

FinalFirewinnerJonFortesFortes went up against Chef Dean Thompson of Flights in Raleigh for the final battle. The secret ingredients were Apple Mill Apple Butter, Atlantic Caviar and Biltmore Winery Sparking Wine Blanc de Blanc. Fortes won $4,000, a hand-forged set of knives and a trip to the pro-chef program at the CIA Greystone campus in Napa Valley. For more details on the final battle, check out WRAL’s blog post of the event.

Below is one of Chef Fortes’ favorite recipes, Crispy North Carolina Brussels Sprouts. Brussels sprouts are now in season and available at your local farmers market or grocery store.

Crispy North Carolina Brussels Sprouts

  • 2 cups North Carolina Brussels sprouts, cut in quarters
  • 2 strips bacon, cooked and diced
  • 1 tablespoon Balsamic reduction (recipe below)
  • 3 cups vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ΒΌ teaspoon black pepper

1) In a large sauce pot, heat vegetable oil over medium high heat to about 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
2) Slowly drop Brussels Sprouts into oil. (Be careful here the oil will pop!)
3) Allow Brussels to get crispy about 2 to 3 minutes.
4) Remove Brussels sprouts onto a paper towel-lined bowl and season with salt and pepper
5) Toss with Balsamic reduction and bacon bits
6) Enjoy immediately

Balsamic Reduction:

  • 1 cup Balsamic Vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon honey

1) In a small sauce pot bring vinegar to a boil.
2) Reduce to a simmer and allow vinegar to reduce by half, about 20 to 30 minutes.
3) Whisk in honey and simmer for additional five minutes.
4) Remove from heat and allow sauce to thicken as it cools.


Fortes serves this dish at his new restaurant The Flipside Cafe in Fort Mill, SC.