Eastern NC chef to compete against state's best

Food prepared by chef Bud Taylor of The Bistro at Topsail (Photo courtesy of Tabletop Media Group)

SURF CITY, Onslow County - One local chef and native of eastern North Carolina is set to compete against the state's best chefs next month for a chance to earn the title of North Carolina's Best Chef.

Bud Taylor, the owner and head chef of The Bistro at Topsail in Surf City, didn't originally set out to be a chef.

"I actually have a graphic design degree and minored in marketing," Taylor said, noting that he took up cooking initially as a hobby.

Now he will be one of twelve competing to be named best in the state.

"That's always a good feather in the cap if you can get that," he said.

And he's got a fighting chance. His restaurant was just awarded an award of excellence from Wine Spectator Magazine and was runner-up in a savory food category at the Wilmington Wine & Food Festival in May.

Taylor's restaurant specializes in seafood, with a other modern dishes featuring a southern influence.

Having grown up in the area, Taylor takes pride in using nearly all local ingredients. He said he plans to use the competition as a way to show off the type of food eastern North Carolina has to offer to folks from other parts of the Tar Heel State.

"I think it'll give us a good opportunity to showcase what we're doing down here," he said. "We get to expose people that might not have been to this area to Topsail, and to us in particular."

The competition is set for Aug. 21 in Raleigh. Taylor said he wasn't going to give any hints as to what sort of dish he will prepare for the contest - he's keeping that a surprise until the very end.