Sera Cuni does it again, winning another competition


PITTSBORO — Sera Cuni cannot be stopped.  

The celebrity chef and owner of Cafe Root Cellar added another trophy on Monday, taking home the 2023 Undeniably Dairy Award for Savory Dish at the North Carolina Restaurant and Lodging Association’s Chef Showdown Grand Finale on Aug. 14 in Raleigh. 

The competition, sponsored by the Dairy Alliance, this new award was presented to competing chefs and bartenders who best showcased the use of North Carolina dairy products in their savory dishes, desserts, cocktails and mocktails.  

Cuni’s winning dish was “Summer in Sicily Chatham Style,” featuring seared scallops, roasted corn custard, corn and smoked ham hock arancini, blackberry poblano drizzle, pickled shallots, micros, and crispy shallots. Cuni’s dishes throughout the rounds of competition featured dairy products from Ran-Lew Dairy, Chapel Hill Creamery and Homeland Dairy. 

The Chef Showdown, in its seventh year, brings chefs from across North Carolina to compete and test their culinary and cocktail skills. This annual event features competitors who showcased North Carolina proteins, produce and products in their dishes, cocktails, and mocktails. The 2023 preliminary rounds of this culinary competition featured 76 North Carolina chefs and pastry chefs. 

Early in June, it was Food Network’s “Supermarket Stakeout,” where Cuni prevailed. 

In the episode titled “Fast Food Frenzy,” Cuni took home $10,000 in her third Food Network competition appearance. 

It was in this show, too, where a dairy treat would win her the top prize. 

“The whole experience was a blast,” Cuni told the Chatham News & Record at that time. “I really enjoyed getting to know the other chefs, and, you know me, I’m always up for a good competition.”  

The Pittsboro resident celebrates Chatham County farmers weekly at Cafe Root Cellar with rotating menus that highlight seasonally grown vegetables and fruits as well as North Carolina-produced meats and dairy.