RALEIGH, NC — Winners were announced in the Best Dish in North Carolina competition, which showcases restaurants using local ingredients. Organizers said 2012 was one of the most competitive years yet.

“The bar has been raised over the years and this year’s results show just how difficult it can be to place in this competition,” said Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler. “The difference between first and second place was three points or less in several categories and we even had our first perfect score.”

The perfect score of 115 points went to Sunny Point Café in Asheville. The restaurant took first place in the Casual Dining Category for the Western Piedmont/Mountain Region.

Restaurants were divided into two regional categories: an Eastern Piedmont/Coastal Region, stretching from Chatham and Alamance counties east, and a Western Piedmont/Mountain Region that included an area between Guilford and Cherokee counties. Each region included a Fine Dining and Casual Dining category.

In the Casual Dining Category, Western Piedmont/Mountain Region, Bistro 42 of Asheboro won second place in a tie with Homegrown of Asheville.

Sponsored by the N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services and Our State Magazine, the Best Dish in N.C. competition is an annual statewide contest that recognizes restaurants and chefs for using North Carolina agricultural products in their menus. The competition also promotes the culinary advantages of buying local. Restaurants may enter a single-course entrée or any combination of courses to include with the entrée such as appetizer, soup, salad or dessert.

To be eligible to compete, each dish entered must contain a primary ingredient from a N.C. producer or farm. Dishes are scored on overall use of N.C. products, creativity of the dish, taste and originality. The depth of the “buy local” connection, overall appeal and value of the entries rounded out the judging.

Competition finalists were required to feature the dishes in their restaurant for at least a four-week period anytime between May 1 and September 30. For more information, visit www.bestdishnc.com.