Charlotte's Dream Team: The Radical Range Riders

By: Lauren Livesay | @naivelyconfident


Got To Be NC Competition Dining Series

Charlotte’s most notable dream team may be the Carolina Panthers, but another Charlotte team competing for a championship this year is the Radical Range Riders.

Who are they, you ask?  

They are Charlotte’s top chefs according to the Got to Be NC Products Competition Dining Series.  This year, the competition allowed each team to consist of three chefs from different establishments.  Radical Range Riders’ team captain, Adam Reed, jumped at the opportunity to compete.  The new rules allowed him to keep his restaurant, Sante’ of Matthews open for business while only removing himself from the nightly dinner service.

Reed called longtime friend and sous chef, Terra Ciotta, culinary instructor and chef at Artisan Restaurant.  To complete the team, they recruited Jess Cochran, culinary instructor at Central Piedmont Community College.

No Planning, No Problem

Each round of the competition featured a head to head battle with another local dream team. Round One matched the Radical Range Riders up with a team named 3 Cooks.  Familiar with the competition’s level of expertise and cooking style, the nerves hit them immediately. “I wanted to puke,” said Ciotta.  They honestly didn’t think they stood a chance against them.  

Since the featured ingredients aren’t revealed until the day of the competition, there really wasn’t any way to prepare or practice.  Each team had approximately six hours to create three dishes using these ingredients.  The judges consist of diners who purchased a ticket to the event as well as a panel of culinary experts.  

On to the Next One

Much to their surprise and delight, the Radical Range Riders defeated 3 Cooks in the first round.  They carried that boost of confidence into their next battle against the Vicious Delicious.  That victory placed them into the Charlotte Finale against Lucianos.  The timeline of the battle rounds gave Radical Range Riders a slight edge as they had more days off leading up to the finale.  All three team members describe each battle as incredibly tiring….both mentally and physically.  Admittedly, much more than the daily grind they are used to in the kitchen.

We are the Champions

There wasn’t much time to celebrate their reign as Charlotte champions as all three chefs stay active with their work.  Terra Ciotta is waiting for a rain check on the celebration as her job prevented her from partaking.  Sante’ has seen a boost in attendance due to the notoriety and recognition of owner and chef, Adam Reed.  Jess Cochran has seen an increase of respect from his recent alumni at CPCC.

In November, the Radical Range Riders will face off against dream teams from other North Carolina cities in the Battle of Champions in Raleigh.  As a result of their Charlotte win, they will get a bye into the second battle round.  The structure of the competition remains the same with no advance knowledge of the ingredients.

The Battle of Champions will be held at Dorothy and Ray Park Alumni Center at NC State University.  The dates of the competition are November 11, 12, 13, and 18 with the grand finale on Sunday, November 20.  You can make your reservation by purchasing a ticket on  Battle pairings and tickets aren’t available just yet, so stay tuned in to the website.

Written by Lauren Livesay | @naivelyconfident

Event planner, cooking enthusiast, and lover of cheap wine