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Chefs of Charlotte face off in Fire in the City

By Jeff Eason (

Article Published: Aug. 28, 2013 | Modified: Aug. 28, 2013
Chefs of Charlotte face off in Fire in the City

Charlotte area chefs will compete in the inaugural Fire in the City competition, beginning in September.

Photo submitted

Eight years ago, Blowing Rock hosted a little friendly competition between area chefs, called Fire on the Rock.

Created and emceed by Jimmy Crippen of Crippen’s Country Inn and Restaurant, the competition was modeled after the popular Food TV program, “Iron Chef,” albeit with a number of twists and local accentuations.

From its humble beginnings, Fire on the Rock has grown into a statewide competition, featuring the best chefs and restaurants in North Carolina, as well as the state’s premier homegrown vegetables, fruit, meat, fish and other items, such as honey and spices.

Now, the competition includes Fire on the Rock (Asheville and the High Country), Fire on the Dock (Wilmington), Fire in the Triangle (Research Triangle) and Fire in the Triad (Greensboro, High Point and Winston-Salem).

Last week, Crippen and his sponsors, the North Carolina Deptartment of Agriculture and Southern Foods, introduced the newest competition: Fire in the City, which will take place in Charlotte in September and October.

All of the Fire in the City dinners will take place at Bonterra Dining and Wine Room, beginning at 7 p.m.

Fire in the City will be a single-elimination chef competition, featuring 16 of the Charlotte area’s most accomplished chefs battling head to head. On the day of each competition, the two chefs and their teams of two assistants apiece will learn of a secret ingredient that they must incorporate into three separate dishes. All of the secret ingredients will have a tie to North Carolina, and in the past have included pork, chocolate, Cheerwine and sweet potatoes, to name a few.

During the evening’s dinner service, six courses will be presented to the diner-judges. Without knowing which chef created which dish, diners will judge the courses on presentation, aroma, taste and use of the secret ingredient.

At the end of the service, the scores are tallied, and a winner is declared. That winner moves on to the round of eight. The tournament continues in this fashion until a winner is declared. That winner will face the winner of the other regional competitions later this year, so that a grand state champion can be declared. The statewide finals will take place in Raleigh Nov. 20 to 23.

The winner of the Fire in the City competition will receive $2,000 and the coveted red chef’s jacket.

The Matches

Fire in the City will feature the following chefs facing off in a single-elimination tournament. All Fire in the City events will take place at Bonterra Restaurant, located at 1829 Cleveland Ave. in Dilworth.

The cost of the six-course dinner is $74.78, including tax and tip, until the semifinals and finals Oct. 15 to 21, when the price climbs to $87.46 (the final dinner, Oct. 21, is already sold out).

Competition Lineup

Sept. 3: Phil Barnes of Rooster’s Wood-Fired Kitchen vs. David Sullivan of Fish Market
Sept. 4: David Moore of Gallery Restaurant at the Ballantyne Hotel and Lodge vs. David Lucarelli of Cowfish Sushi Burger Bar
Sept. 5: Nicolas Daniels of The Wooden Vine vs. Paul Ketterhagen of Carpe Diem
Sept. 9: Brent Martin of The Peculiar Rabbit vs. Tom Dyrness of Upstream.
Sept. 10: David Bettendorf of River’s Edge Bar & Grill vs. Brian Mottola of E2 Emeril’s Eatery
Sept. 11: Jon Fortes of Mimosa Grill vs. Sam Stachon of King’s Kitchen
Sept. 23: Luca Annunziata of Passion8 Bistro vs. Rob Masone of Heist Brewery
Sept. 24: Bruce Moffett of Barrington’s vs. Vincent Giancarlo of Cantina 1511
Quarterfinal rounds will be held on Sept. 30, Oct. 1, 7, and 8. Semifinal rounds will be held Oct. 14 and 15. The final is on Oct. 21

For more information, or to make reservations, visit

Beat It

Got restaurant news? Email editor Frank Ruggiero at ( , or call (828) 264-6397.

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