CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- For the last few months, chefs in the area have been taking part in Iron Chef like battles meant, in part, to help drum up business.
Tuesday night is the semi-final between Mimosa Grill and Passion8 Bistro.
Only NBC Charlotte was allowed behind the scenes.
“Welcome back everybody. Congratulations on your wins. It gets a little bit tougher now,” says Competition Dining host and creator, Jimmy Crippen.
It is the semi-finals of Competition Dining, and the two chefs have come with their teams to find out the secret ingredient they will need to incorporate into a six course dinner in just a few hours.
“You are competing for the chance to go to the grand finale,” Jimmy bellows. He is loud and full of energy.
Chef's from 16 Charlotte restaurants have been going head to head for weeks.
Crippen says, “There are two restaurants competing on any given night and you, the diner, have to judge the food.”
Like the popular reality show Iron Chef, they compete with the secret ingredient revealed the afternoon of the event.
“We got bacon tonight! Bacon generally gets a standing ovation.”
With the reveal, each chef and his team heads to their corners.
“As soon as they tell us, your mind starts working on it. You start developing some ideas.”
Each team has six hours to make three courses for 120 people. That's more than 700 plates of food.
Diners use an app on their phones to vote on each dish, not knowing which chef made what.
Charlotte business owner Derek Sanderson was at the first Competition Dining event years ago and created the app after seeing the paper ballots. The chefs just care about getting the votes.
Let the battle begin.
For more information, check out www.competitiondining.com.