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Competition Dining Series founder Jimmy Crippen talks with Bistro Roca Chef Michael Foreman at the statewide competition in Raleigh. Submitted photo

Originally published: 2012-11-23 08:23:23
Last modified: 2012-11-23 08:23:23

Blowing Rock chef takes second in contest

In the most competitive and highest scoring battle of the year, Chef Ryan Payne’s Weathervane Team from A Southern Season in Chapel Hill edged out Blowing Rock’s Bistro Roca team led by Chef Michael Foreman in the first ever Competition Dining Series final four.

The featured North Carolina products for the evening were Heritage Farms Pork from Seven Springs; the chefs were told to specifically use pork jowls and cushion cuts.

In keeping with past regional finals, a second ingredient was paired with the pork: Pepsi, the national soft drink that was developed in New Bern, N.C., by a local pharmacist in 1898.

Each chef team prepared three courses using both featured products for 160 diners in a sold-out ballroom at the Renaissance Raleigh North Hills Hotel on Saturday, Nov. 17.

Payne’s highest scoring dish of the evening was dessert: Pepsi-bittersweet chocolate torte with Pepsi-ginger poached Asian pear, jowl scented five-spice mousse and pistachio pork cracklin’ nougat.
Foreman had the highest score of the evening with a nod to his time spent in the Southwest: house-made jowl pancetta risotto with Taos-style braised pork cushion, Dos Equis beer-Pepsi jus and pine nut-cumin pistou.

Culinary pro judges for the evening included CNN Eatocracy Blog Managing Editor Kit Kinsman; Evan Nash of Johnson & Wales in Charlotte; Scott Craig of Charlotte (one of six Americans to win a gold medal at the International Culinary Olympics in Germany in October); Dathan Kuzsak, food blogger and design editor at the Triangle Business Journal; and Daniel Benjamin, pastry chef at Herons at the Umstead Hotel & Spa in Cary.

A $4,000 check was presented to Payne by Mac Sullivan, chief executive officer of Southern Foods-Pate Dawson, lead sponsor of the event, and Jimmy Crippen, host and series founder from Crippen’s Country Inn & Restaurant in Blowing Rock.

Foreman’s team, which included Seth Parker and Scott Phan, received a $1,000 check.

Ironman Forge in Charlotte presented handmade knife sets to both teams.

For scores and complete details of Saturday’s food N.C. food extravaganza, visit or Facebook at

Competition Dining
This is the first year for Got To Be NC Competition Dining as a statewide competition. Since January, 64 chefs have competed in four regional competitions and served more than 6,000 diners.

The Nov. 17 event was the finale of the 2012 competition designed to engage the farmer, the chef and the diner in an exciting evening of food and entertainment, with the goal of  promoting North Carolina chef talent and the use of local ingredients.

Fire on the Rock kicked off in Blowing Rock in January 2012. Next, Fire on the Dock launched in Wilmington. Summer brought Fire in the Triangle to Raleigh. In August and September, Fire in the Triad landed in Greensboro.

Statewide sponsors for Got To Be NC Competition Dining include the North Carolina Department of Agriculture, Our State, Southern Foods/Pate Dawson, Crippen’s Country Inn & Restaurant in Blowing Rock, Whole Harvest Foods and h.ITS Technology.

The Office of the State Fire Marshal in North Carolina provides information at each dinner as cooking accidents are the No. 1 cause of home fires.
For more information and stories, see The Blowing Rocket.

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