By Jesse Wood
May 1, 2013. The Competition Dining Series is like NASCAR.
That’s how Jimmy Crippen, founder and creator of the state-wide event, described the Fire on the Rock finale where Red Stag Grill’s Adam Hayes out of Asheville won Tuesday night’s chef battle against Sam Ratchford of Vidalia in Boone by tenths of a point.
Ratchford’s final weighted score was 75.376, while Hayes’ score finished at 75.687.
“The two best teams were in the finale without a doubt. It was such a close battle. It was anybody’s game. Like NASCAR, Sam just ran out of laps throughout the course of the dinner. It was head to head,” Crippen said, adding that the battle went back and forth with both chefs winning at some point.
Adding a southern flair to the competition, the local secret ingredients were Old Mill of Guilford Grits and Midnight Moon Moonshine.
Ratchford ran with those ingredients and scored big during the second round of courses with:
- rosemary thyme smoked pork tenderloin with a blueberry moonshine barbecue sauce;
- strawberry moonshine brussels;
- snow pea slaw;
- rapini yellow grit remoulade; and
- sweet potato grit crouton
Even though Ratchford didn’t come away on top, that dish was the highest scoring course of the night, coming in with weighted score of 82.69. (Check out all of the dishes and scores here.)
Ratchford, the owner and operator of Vidalia on West King Street, said the competition was “great for business” and that he received many compliments from people who had never before experienced Vidalia.
“I had a good time. I am glad we did it. It was good exposure,” Ratchford said. “I think we definitely picked up some business from it.”
Crippen said that is exactly part of the goal of the Competition Dining Series. He mentioned that many folks from Asheville traveled up the mountain for the competition and that now with the series sprawled across the state, folks from Asheville, Wilmington, Raleigh, Greensboro, Charlotte and other places are aware of the local High Country establishments participating in Fire on the Rock.
“Every single day we are picking up more and more of a following,” Crippen said.
For more information about the Competition Dining Series and other events taking place across the state, click here.
View photos of last night’s finale below: