By Jesse Wood
April 8, 2013. The field is set, and the competition’s first battle is tonight.
A few weeks ago, Fire on the Rock Founder Jimmy Crippen announced the competitors and battle brackets for the “Got To Be N.C.” Competition Dining Series at a press conference.
This year’s competition hosted by Meadowbrook Inn features something new. The competition for Fire on the Rock will be divided into two regional rounds – one in Blowing Rock and one in Asheville. Adam Hayes of Red Stag Grill has already been crowned the champ in Asheville.
“Competition Dining was born in the mountains, so we felt that we should include all the amazing culinary talent that resides in Western N.C. into the original Fire on the Rock series,” Crippen said. “Those Asheville chefs certainly threw down the gauntlet in January; now it’s time for the High Country chefs to bring the fire.”
Crippen, who used to run Crippen’s Inn and Restaurant in Blowing Rock, added that his heart lies with the chefs in the High Country.
“You gotta do it to Asheville,” Crippen told the eight High Country chefs on Wednesday. “The top talent in the High Country is here today.”
This year’s competition features previous Fire on the Rock winners, such as Sam Beasley who won Fire on the Rock in 2010 when he was a part of the Gamekeeper but is now a part of 1861 Farmhouse, and it also features a chef who was featured as a contestant on the Food Network’s “Chopped.”
One of the chefs competing for the first time is Will Young of Vance Toe River Lodge, located in Plumtree.
“I like competition. I don’t scare easily,” Young said. “Regardless [of how I place in the competition], it will be a good time, and we’ll let more people know about who we are and what we can do.”
The winner of the overall Fire on the Rock competition on April 30 will receive $2,000 cash prize and the coveted “Red Chef Jacket.”
Sponsored by the N.C. Department of Agriculture, Our State Magazine, Southern Foods-Pate Dawson, Pepsi Bottling Ventures, Swisher Hygiene and Certified Angus Beef, the “Got To Be N.C.” Competition Dining Series pits North Carolina’s top chefs in five regional Iron Chef-style competitions that culminate with the battle of the regional champions at the Final Fire event in November. In this unique experience, diners sample six gourmet dishes prepared by two competing chefs – who cook three anonymous dishes each – and vote after savoring each dish.
As a guest at the competition, you get to savor the six-course menu created around a “secret” North Carolina ingredient. The featured ingredient is revealed to the chefs at noon the day of their battle and it must be used in each of their three courses.
“With the N.C. Department of Agriculture sponsoring the event, the mission of the yearlong, statewide competition is to engage the farmer, the chef and the diner in an exciting evening of food and entertainment with the goal of promoting North Carolina chef talent and the use of local ingredients,” according to a press release.
Tickets are available online at www.competitiondining.com. Get your tickets early as the dining competitions usually set out in advance.
- April 8: Craig Miller of Jackalope’s View v. James Welch of Laurel Room at Green Park Inn
- April 9: Sam Ratchford of Vidalia Restaurant v. Will Young of Vance Toe River Lodge
- April 10: John Dean of Twig’s Restaurant v. Clark Barlowe of Heirloom
- April 11: Sam Beasley of 1861 Farmhouse v. Julius Kalman of Canyons
- April 16: April 8 winner v. April 9 winner
- April 17: April 10 winner v. April 11 winner
- April 24: April 16 winner v. April 17 winner
- April 30: Asheville finalist Adam Hayes of Red Stag Grill v. April 24 Blowing Rock finalist
Tickets to each event cost $59 to $69 (depending on the round) and a 20 percent gratuity and applicable taxes will be added. Drinks are not included. For reservations, click here: http://www.competitiondining.com/events/fire-on-the-rock-blowing-rock.