During Excellent Run, Sam Ratchford of Vidalia Just ‘Ran out of Laps’ in Back-and-Forth Fire on the Rock Finale

Published Wednesday, May 1, 2013 at 12:38 pm

By Jesse Wood

May 1, 2013. The Competition Dining Series is like NASCAR.

score fire

It was a super close battle.

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
Ratchford's stellar dish described to the left.

Ratchford’s stellar dish described to the left.

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: 


Ratchford prepares dishes for the many diners at Meadowbrook Inn. Photo by Ken Ketchie



Ratchford and crew prepare dishes for the many diners at the Meadowbrook Inn. Photo by Ken Ketchie



Ratchford and crew prepare the dishes for many diners at the Meadowbrook Inn in Blowing Rock. Photo by Ken Ketchie



Photo by Ken Ketchie



Ratchford puts on the finishing touches of a dish. Photo by Ken Ketchie



The Vidalia Crew – Photo by Ken Ketchie



Diners enjoy the festivities at the Meadowbrook Inn in Blowing Rock Photo by Ken Ketchie



Adam Hayes and the Red Stag Grill gang during the competition. Photo by Ken Ketchie



Sam Ratchford and the Vidalia gang during the competition. Photo by Ken Ketchie



Adam Hayes of Red Stag Grill and his team prepare a dish on Tuesday night. Photo by Ken Ketchie



Adam Hayes of Red Stag Grill hard at it. Photo by Ken Ketchie



The voting of the dishes is done online. Photo by Ken Ketchie



Sam Ratchford of Vidalia (left) and Adam Hayes of Red Stag Grill shake hands after the competition. Photo by Ken Ketchie



Adam Hayes’ of Red Stag Grill and his team takes home the coveted Red Chef Jacket. Photo by Ken Ketchie



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