Rising Star Chef Series
These days, just about everyone you meet is a self-professed
“foodie.” That means they are always looking for the next cool trend in eating or trying to discover
the next hot young chef.
Crippen’s Country Inn & Restaurant in Blowing Rock is bringing some of these up-and-coming chefs in for a test drive in 2012.
“I’m calling it the North Carolina Rising Star Chef Series, and it begins this month with Chad McIntyre of Market in Raleigh,” restaurant owner Jimmy Crippen said.
Chef Chad McIntyre will prepare a special dinner at Crippen’s on Friday, Jan. 20. The cost is $39 per person, excluding tax, beverages and gratuity, and reservations are being taken now.
According to Crippen, as availability dictates, his restaurant will host a number of guest chefs this year. Some of them, like McIntyre, will be among the rising stars of the North Carolina culinary scene, while others will be more established chefs.
Crippen’s guest chef series last September featured chefs Bill Smith, Bruce Moffett and Keith Rhodes from upscale restaurants in Chapel Hill, Charlotte and Wilmington, respectively. All three dinners attracted sold-out crowds.
“North Carolina is turning into the culinary capital of the Southeast,” Crippen said. “As I travel around the state, North Carolina has this very welcoming feel, like a small town. But increasingly, we are attracting some heavy hitters when it comes to talented chefs.”
One of those new transplants in McIntyre. He grew up in southern Louisiana and was exposed to that region’s unique culinary traditions from an early age. His family has been hunting and fishing on the Gulf Coast for generations, and this sense of living off of the land is part and parcel of his cooking philosophy.
For years, he has been a huge advocate of using what is in season and what is local, a trend that is just now catching on.
After cooking in four-star restaurants on the Gulf Coast and in the ski country of Colorado, McIntyre moved to North Carolina and opened Market in Raleigh. The restaurant’s revolving menu features unusual items that are prepared to mouthwatering perfection by McIntyre and his staff.
A sampling of the entrée items on the Sept. 28 menu included risotto with fresh local vegetables, char-grill blackened filet, pressed pork belly sandwich, vegan tacos with roasted veggies, vegan curry and a tofu a l’orange sandwich.
For Crippen’s Jan. 20 service, McIntyre has created a multi-course dinner that includes “crack” fries topped with fresh herbs and asiago, served with homemade ketchup; black pepper cured duck prosciutto, duck mortadella and pickled okra; North Carolina shrimp over fresh pasta with grated rock fish bottarga; nasi-lemak in fresh banana leaf steamed with sweet rice and curried ratatouille; confit of leg of lamb with corn chow-chow over fresh tostada; pork shoulder “posole” on crispy stone-ground grit cake; and crème fraiche cheese cake with fresh, locally raised honey and quinelle of coconut-lime ice cream.
After the fourth course, diners will enjoy an “intermezzo” tasting of Market’s fat-washed Bulleit Bourbon and side of sweet potato chips with blue cheese béchamel.
According to McIntyre, he and Crippen share the same PR representative, Susan Doser, who introduced the two restaurateurs.
“My wife and I moved here from Crested Butte, Colo., five years ago,” McIntyre said. “We weren’t sure where we wanted to move to, but then we decided to go where there are four distinct seasons. We love it. Market is coming up on two years, and I’m really pleased with the response from people here in North Carolina.”
Greg Cox of The Raleigh News and Observer writes, “If ever there were a restaurant where virtually anything you order has the potential to yield a pleasant surprise, Market is it.”
Battle of the Champions
On Tuesday, Jan. 24, Crippen’s hosts the “Battle of the Champions” dinner. The dinner will feature three award-winning chefs, including Nate Allen from the Knife & Fork in Spruce Pine (winner of the 2011 WNC Chefs Challenge and Cooking Light’s 2011 Small Town Chef Award), Michael Barbato from Chetola Resort’s Manor House Restaurant (2011 Fire on the Rock winner) and Crippen’s own Stan Chamberlain (Best Dish NC top three winner).
Each chef will prepare two dishes for a six-course meal. Diners will then decide whose cuisine reigns supreme.
Tickets for the Battle of the Champions dinner are $49 per person, excluding tax, beverages and gratuity. Reservations are now being taken for this event.
Fire on the Rock 2012
Jimmy Crippen’s Fire on the Rock Chefs Challenge has grown from a regional phenomenon into a statewide competition. Now a fully sanctioned N.C. Department of Agriculture event, Fire on the Rock 2012 will feature four separate competitions.
“In addition to Fire on the Rock in Blowing Rock, there will be a Fire on the Dock in Wilmington, a Fire in the Triangle in the Research Triangle and a Fire in the Triad in Winston-Salem and Greensboro,” Crippen said.
Each event will feature 16 area chefs facing off in head-to-head competition over a series of weeks, and each event will take place at a different time of year, giving adventurous foodies the opportunity to participate in all four events.
Blowing Rock’s Fire on the Rock Chefs Challenge begins on Jan. 31 and runs for eight weeks through February and March.
For more information, call Crippen’s at (828) 295-3487. Crippen’s Country Inn & Restaurant is located at 239 Sunset Drive in downtown Blowing Rock.
Got restaurant news? Email editor Frank Ruggiero at (firstname.lastname@example.org) or call (828) 264-6397.