Deadline looming for area chefs

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Article Published: Feb. 21, 2013 | Modified: Feb. 23, 2013
Deadline looming for area chefs

Chefs James Welch of the Green Park Inn and Guy Thomas of Glidewell’s attend a 2011 Fire on the Rock secret ingredient reveal, where the ingredient was North Carolina pork.

Photo by Jeff Eason

North Carolina chefs should begin sharpening their knives — and their culinary skills — as the “Got To Be N.C.” Competition Dining Series kicks off its second year of statewide competition in its birthplace, Blowing Rock.

The call for applications is now open for professional chefs who will battle one-on-one against each other in April and ultimately be pitted against a rival Asheville chef in the Fire on the Rock series finale.

Applications must be received via fax by Feb. 22 to be considered.

Sponsored by the N.C. Department of Agriculture, 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 and vote after savoring each dish.

Fire on the Rock’s Blowing Rock series kicks off April 8 at the Meadowbrook Inn. Eight chefs from the area will battle during preliminary rounds April 8 to 11, followed by the semi-finals April 16 to 17. The Fire on the Rock finalist will be determined on April 24.

The Fire on the Rock-Asheville finalist, Adam Hayes from Red Stag Grill, will go head-to-head with the Fire on the Rock-Blowing Rock finalist in Blowing Rock on April 30.

Chefs can enter the competition by visiting

Each regional winner receives the coveted “Red Chef Jacket” and advances to the Final Fire series in November to vie for the 2013 state championship title and a cash prize.

Throughout the 2013 season, an estimated 10,000 guests will be served gourmet meals prepared by 80 chefs at 79 different battles.

Interested in attending? Consider buying tickets early — only available online at — as nearly every battle in the 2012 season sold out.

How it Works

Each evening, two restaurants “battle” it out side-by-side in a single elimination, “Iron Chef”-style format. Guests savor a six-course menu (three dishes from each chef without knowing whose food they’re tasting) created around a featured ingredient.

For all 15 dinners, the ingredient will come from a North Carolina source. The featured ingredient is revealed to the chefs on the day of the event, and it must be used in each of their three courses.
Diners, alongside culinary and guest judges, rate each dish and determine who moves on to the next round and who goes home.

About ‘Got To Be N.C.’

According to the N.C. Department of Agriculture, 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.

Each of the five regional competitions features 16 chefs and 15 single-elimination dinner battles judged by the public.

This is the second year the concept has been executed statewide. It was started eight years ago by event host and founder Jimmy Crippen in Blowing Rock at Crippen’s Country Inn and Restaurant as Fire on the Rock.

Beat It

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

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