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Fire on the Rock returns

By Jeff Eason & Frank Ruggiero (reporter@mountaintimes.com)



Article Published: Apr. 11, 2013 | Modified: Apr. 12, 2013
Fire on the Rock returns

From left, Kim Lloyd, John Pombalis and Craig Miller of Team Jackalope’s View are congratulated by Fire on the Rock host Jimmy Crippen. Jackalope’s View defeated the chef team from Chestnut Grille at the Green Park Inn on Monday night at the Meadowbrook Inn.

Photo by Jeff Eason



While much of the country was watching the NCAA championship basketball game between Louisville and Michigan on Monday night, approximately 100 people in Blowing Rock were watching a competition that was much more evenly matched.

The first round of the 2013 Fire on the Rock Chefs Challenge turned out to be one for the ages as Chef James Welch of the Chestnut Grille at the Green Park Inn faced Chef Craig Miller of Jackalope’s View.

The two chefs and their teams utilized the secret ingredients of sturgeon and caviar at the Meadowbrook Inn during the opening match of this year’s event in Blowing Rock.

After six courses had been consumed and judged by the diners, Miller and his team defeated Welch by a cumulative score of 68 to 67.76. According to Fire on the Rock host and creator Jimmy Crippen, the .24 margin of victory marked the slimmest winning margin in the history of Fire on the Rock and the Competition Dining Series.

During the competition, diners tasted and judged dishes as diverse as a lobster and shrimp cake with wasabi cream and caviar, “surf and turf” with veal, mushroom gravy and pan-seared sturgeon, and caviar ice cream with berry sauce.

Diners judged the dishes digitally, using their smart phones and iPads to score them on appearance, aroma, taste, originality and use of secret ingredients. In addition to the large group of diners, a select number of professional judges also voted in the competition.

“It is fitting that Fire on the Rock’s return to where the competition all started should result in the closest match in the event’s history,” Crippen said.

Tuesday’s competition featured Chef Sam Ratchford of Vidalia Restaurant and Wine Bar versus Chef Will Young of the Toe River Lodge. The two chefs and their chef teams created dishes utilizing the secret ingredient of country ham.

Ratchford and his team of Sierra Cockerill and Hayden Watson defeated Young’s team of Tate Jones and Dirk Rusthoven in one of the highest scoring matches ever, 79.83 to 72.03.

On Wednesday, April 10, Blowing Rock chefs John Dean of Twigs and Clark Barlowe of Heirloom competed in a battle of daikon, beets and strawberries. Dean defeated Barlowe with an overall score of 68.9 percent to Barlowe's 61.4 percent.

The match on Thursday, April 11, saw Chef Julius Kalman of Canyons in Blowing Rock defeat Chef Sam Beasley of The 1861 Farmhouse in Valle Crucis in a battle of First Noodle Company noodles and Ashe County Cheese cheeses. Kalman won with an overall score of 74.8 percent to Beasley's 63.5 percent.

The next match is scheduled for April 16, when Ratchford faces off against Miller and his team in the semifinals.

For reservations for one of the upcoming Fire on the Rock dinners, call the Meadowbrook Inn at (828) 295-4300.

For more information and up-to-date results, visit http://www.competitiondining.com/events/fire-on-the-rock-blowing-rock.



Beat It

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

Additional Images

From left, Kim Lloyd, John Pombalis and Craig Miller of Team Jackalope’s View are congratulated by Fire on the Rock host Jimmy Crippen. Jackalope’s View defeated the chef team from Chestnut Grille at the Green Park Inn on Monday night at the Meadowbrook Inn.
Photo by Jeff Eason

Fire on the Rock diner Megan Ellis tabulates a score for one of Monday night’s courses into her cell phone.
Photo by Jeff Eason

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