Fire on the Rock blazes through challenges

Article Published: Feb. 9, 2012 | Modified: Feb. 9, 2012
Fire on the Rock blazes through challenges

Team Bistro Roca, led by Chef Michael Foreman, right, won Wednesday's Fire on the Rock Chefs Challenge against Chef Josh Grogan of Team Hearthstone.

Photo by Amanda Lugenbell

The secret ingredients in this year’s Fire on the Rock Chefs Challenge all have one thing in common: They all come from the state of North Carolina.

Last week’s single-elimination battles featured homegrown sweet potatoes and Carolina catfish, two staples that have longtime been associated with the Tar Heel state.

This past Tuesday, the chefs were introduced to a Carolina concoction of a slightly foreign bent. Chef Hunter Hallmark of Restaurant G at Gideon Ridge and Chef Monte Weber of the Painted Fish Café competed in the chefs challenge using the secret ingredient of guinea fowl supplied by Ashley Farms of Winston-Salem.

Guinea fowl, or guinea hens, are originally from Africa but have become popular with American poultry farmers over the past few decades.

After serving three courses each featuring guinea fowl, Weber defeated Hallmark with an average score of 70.2 to 57.1 at Tuesday’s battle at Crippen’s Restaurant in Blowing Rock.

Hallmark’s three dishes included guinea fowl flautas with salsa fresca, cotija cheese and cilantro lime crema, guinea fowl risotto with fresh mozzarella, balsamic brown butter and porcini mushrooms, and a surf and turf of guinea fowl sausage, purple potato hash, scallop, asparagus salad and guinea fowl au jus.

Weber countered with Nicoise guinea fowl confit spring roll with haricot vertes, kalamata olives, grape tomatoes, roasted potatoes, baby spinach with red wine-anchovy vinaigrette; spaghetti and guinea fowl meatballs, duo of sweet potato angel hair and agridolce sauce; and a guinea fowl-stuffed beignet with bing cherry ice cream and brandied caramel sauce.

Weber moves on in the Fire on the Rock Chefs Challenge to face the winner of the Feb. 28 battle between Chef Sam Ratchford of Vidalia and Chef Matt Martin of Café Portofino. That semifinal battle will take place on Tuesday, March 13.

On Wednesday, Chef Michael Foreman of Bistro Roca bested Chef Josh Grogan of Hearthstone Tavern and Grille in the “Battle Cinnamon and Lavender.”

For his three dishes, Foreman served up a cinnamon pork sausage en croute with lavender-honey Stokes County purple sweet potatoes and baby greens with a cinnamon-lingonberry vinaigrette and lavender mustard; smoked paprika and cinnamon crusted Mt. Ulla flank steak roasted on Himalayan sea salt with cinnamon sticks and lavender flowers with a goat cheese polenta and Italian garden mignonette; and German apple cake with lavender buttermilk ice cream and pine nut toffee.

Grogan countered with cinnamon-jalapeno grilled N.C. coastal shrimp and mesquite-lavender smoked scallop with baby greens and lavender-honey champagne dressing; cinnamon-braised pork belly and grilled pork tenderloin with orange lavender spoon bread, lavender potato puree and Maker’s Mark sauce; and cinnamon cardamom apple fritter with lavender ice cream and cinnamon whipped cream.
Foreman’s three dishes outscored Grogan’s by an average score of 64.4 to 57.8.

Due to Valentine's Day on Tuesday, Feb. 14, Fire on the Rock will resume Feb. 21 and 22. For more information, visit

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