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Charlotte chef earns state title as best of the culinary kind
Jamie Turner wins pastry chef of the year
Published Thursday, October 3, 2019 11:00 am
by Ashley Mahoney | The Charlotte Post

Chef Jamie Turner of Charlotte is North Carolina Restaurant & Lodging Association Showdown Pastry Chef of the Year.

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Chef Jamie Turner reminded young black girls what they are capable of.

The 2019 North Carolina Restaurant & Lodging Association Chef Showdown Pastry Chef of the Year accomplished it for herself at this week’s grand finale in Durham, competing among 20 chefs in both the pastry and savory categories for chef and pastry chef of the year. Her prize was $250 and a North Carolina Department of Agriculture ambassadorship. The Earls Grocery and Soul Foods Sessions chef intends to enhance the culinary experience through creativity and scholarship. She remains unwavering in her mission to show girls of color what they can accomplish in the field.

Once more, Turner took judges to the fair with an apple and Asian pear brown butter bun, filled with ginger cream pecan orange honey tuile, cider pickled apples, sweet corn ice cream, white chocolate popcorn shoot crumble and pear gastrique, the same dish that sent her through the regional round. The finale was open to the public, and they were able to sample dishes.

“It was a lot of goose bump moments for me and my assistant where people were taking their first bite,” Turner said. “I love that aspect of the industry and my job of actually watching people enjoy your food—there is nothing better. There really isn’t. We talked about the fair with people. We had burlap tablecloth, decorated with apples and pears and gourds and things like that. We tried to do a little fair setting while we were serving.”

Working with local products is a focal point of the competition. Between the first round and finale, it became a matter of determining which local products worked best. For instance, Turner initially made her ice cream with heavy cream, but switched to local milk for the final two rounds.

“We really focused on our ice cream,” she said.  “Round one, I actually used local heavy cream, but I felt like it had a little too much fat in it, so I switched to local milk for round two, and then again in round three. The local milk had less fat content. Really getting to learn which local ingredients worked best for different things, because I definitely used the local cream in my pastry cream, because you want that buttery, fatty texture there. We really focused on our ice cream based on critiques from round one.”

Last month, Turner and fellow Soul Food Sessions members took their dinner series to the James Beard House, continuing a celebration of forging sustainable paths for chefs of color. Turner sees the two experiences happening in the same month as validation of her effort.

“I feel like this is the culmination of my career, of my journey,” she said. “September was crazy. I went to the Beard House and won Pastry Chef of the Year in the same month. I would definitely say all my hard work, all my long nights and early mornings—it just feels like it is paying off.”


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