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Fire on the Rock leaves Blowing Rock

By Jeff Eason (

Article Published: Jan. 15, 2014 | Modified: Jan. 15, 2014
Fire on the Rock leaves Blowing Rock

The Fire on the Rock competition dining event is leaving its hometown of Blowing Rock to be hosted in Asheville.Founder and former Blowing Rock business owner Jimmy Crippen, center, started the popluar event some nine years ago, challenging local chefs to battle it out in an ‘Iron Chef’-style competition.

Photo by Jeff Eason

After eight years of being held in Blowing Rock, Fire on the Rock, an “Iron Chef”-style chefs competition, is leaving town.

According to Kristen Baughman, public relations specialist for the Got To Be NC Competition Dining Series, this year’s Fire on the Rock competition will consist of seven dinners in Asheville. The dinners will take place at the Lioncrest Grand Ballroom of the Biltmore Estate.

“Chefs from Blowing Rock and the High Country can still apply to compete in Fire on the Rock,” Baughman said.

Competing chefs need to have their applications filled and returned to the Got To Be NC Competition Dining by Jan. 24. The eight chefs who will compete in the 2014 Fire on the Rock competition will be notified by Jan. 31. Media Day for Fire on the Rock is Wednesday, Feb. 5.

Jimmy Crippen, the former owner of Crippen’s Country Inn and Restaurant, started Fire on the Rock nine years ago in Blowing Rock. For the first few years of the competition, the preliminary rounds were held at Crippen’s, with the “Final Four” being held at the Hayes Center for the Performing Arts in conjunction with the Blue Ridge Wine and Food Festival.

Three years ago, Fire on the Rock became part of the larger Got To Be NC Competition Dining Series, along with several new companion competitions based on the same format — Fire on the Dock in Wilmington, Fire in the Triangle in Raleigh and Fire in the Triad in Greensboro. Last year, Fire in the City was added in Charlotte.

For the past two years, winners of each competition have faced off in a statewide championship for the series in Raleigh.

After Crippen closed his restaurant last winter, Fire on the Rock was split between Blowing Rock and Asheville, with seven dinners held at the Meadowbrook Inn and seven dinners held at the Lioncrest Grand Ballroom.

Competition Dining Series

Competition Dining Series events are battles between two teams of three chefs each. Both teams are given a secret ingredient or ingredients at noon and have from that moment until dinner service to concoct three dishes utilizing that ingredient, one that comes from the state of North Carolina.

During the dinner service, diners are asked to rate each dish on a number of categories, including visual appeal, aroma, taste and use of secret ingredients, without knowing which dish was prepared by which chef.

At the end of the dinner service, the votes are tabulated, and the chef with the winning score moves on to the next round of the competition.

Last year, Chef Adam Hayes and his team from the Red Stag Grill in Asheville won the statewide championship.

For more information, including how to make reservations for this year’s Fire on the Rock dinners or to apply for the competition, visit

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

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