Bistro Roca takes Fire on the Rock

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Article Published: Apr. 19, 2012 | Modified: Apr. 19, 2012
Bistro Roca takes Fire on the Rock

Bistro Roca Chef Michael Foreman, second from left, and his team are the 2012 Fire on the Rock champions.

Photo by Amanda Lugenbell

In a packed dining room at Crippen’s Country Inn and Restaurant in Blowing Rock last Wednesday, more than 120 guests waited to hear the final numbers, eyes riveted on the event emcee and founder, Jimmy Crippen.

After a moment of hushed silence, Crippen said, “And the champion of Fire on the Rock 2012 is Michael Foreman of Bistro Roca.”

Having defeated Glidewell’s Chef Guy Thomas, Foreman and his team were awarded the coveted red chef jackets and their prize of $2,500. Foreman was the final chef standing in the single-elimination battle that began Jan. 31 with competitors from 16 of the High Country’s standout restaurants.

Fire on the Rock is the first of four regional competitions capturing the attention of North Carolina’s dining public. After seven years as a stand-alone contest in the High Country, this year’s Fire on the Rock competition is now part of the new Got To Be NC Competition Dining Series.

Fire on the Dock lit up the Wilmington dining scene on March 26, Fire in the Triangle will start June 11, and the Fire in the Triad series launches Aug. 13.

The goal of the Got to Be NC Competition Dining is showcasing North Carolina culinary talent while celebrating North Carolina’s agricultural bounty.

A portion of ticket sales from each event is donated to the Office of the State Fire Marshal in North Carolina to support North Carolina fire fighters as cooking accidents are reportedly the No. 1 cause of home fires. Kitchen fire safety videos are shared during the event.

The energy and enthusiasm the competition inspired in the High Country provided the spark for taking the event statewide. Crippen will emcee all of this year’s events. Last Wednesday, Crippen was buoyant as diners hugged both competitors and talked about the battle.

“This was a very emotional battle,” Crippen said. “There were tears on both teams. Guy Thomas has a long track record in this region, and he was so appreciative of his staff and crew. Tough ol’ Michael Foreman’s hands were shaking after he accepted the check and trophy. He’s battled for many years but never won. This event brings so much attention to these professionals and sets the stage for great teamwork, sharing and competition in this region. This event sparks passion. It gets people talking about food, ingredients and the people behind the food. I’m thrilled with how intense this celebration is.”

Competition Dates

The Fire on the Dock series resumed Tuesday, April 17, at Shell Island Resort at Wrightsville Beach. Cook-off dates include April 17,18, 24, 25; May 1, 2, 8, 9,15,16 with finals on May 22.

The third event, Fire in the Triangle, will take place in Raleigh at 1705 Prime. Chefs are invited to apply for the competition by May 4 ( Chefs from Raleigh, Durham and Chapel Hill will compete on June 11, 12, 13, 18, 19, 20, 25, 26; July 9, 10,16,17, 23, 24 with finals July 31.

The fourth and final event, Fire in the Triad begins Aug. 7 and 8 in Greensboro at The Painted Plate. Chefs from Winston-Salem, Greensboro and High Point will compete. Competition dining nights are Aug. 13, 14,15, 20, 21, 22, 28, 29; Sept. 5, 6, 11, 12, 18, 19 with the finals on Sept. 25.

How it works: Paying guests get to sample each course in a blind tasting alongside a panel of culinary and celebrity judges in a series of 15 dinner competitions hosted in the four regions of the state.

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

For almost all series, the secret ingredient will come from a North Carolina source. The secret ingredient is revealed to the chefs only an hour before they start cooking, and it must be used in each of their three courses. Ingredients for each night’s dinners are provided by Southern Foods/Pate Dawson, using as many locally raised North Carolina products as possible.

Diners, alongside culinary and guest judges, will rate each dish and determine who moves to the next round and who goes home. At stake in each series is a grand prize of $2,500 and a coveted red chef jacket. Tickets for dinners cost $49, excluding beverage, tax and tip. The semi-final and final ticket prices are $59. Semi-finals are the last two challenges before the big final. Diners can attend as many dinners as they like. Tickets are on sale now at

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