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July 31, 2014

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Friday is deadline for chefs to throw hats into the fire

Chefs James Welch, center, of the Green Park Inn is shown the secret ingredient for the dining competition at a 2011 Fire on the Rock event. The ingredient was North Carolina pork. File photo by JEFF EASON
Chefs James Welch, center, of the Green Park Inn is shown the secret ingredient for the dining competition at a 2011 Fire on the Rock event. The ingredient was North Carolina pork. File photo by JEFF EASON
Published: 10:27 AM, 02/21/2013

Source: The Blowing Rocket

North Carolina chefs should begin sharpening their knives — and their culinary skills — as the “Got To Be N.C.” Competition Dining Series kicks off its second year of statewide competition in its birthplace, Blowing Rock.

The call for applications is now open for professional chefs who will battle one-on-one against each other in April and ultimately be pitted against a rival Asheville chef in the Fire on the Rock series finale.

Applications must be received via fax by Friday to be considered.

Sponsored by the N.C. Department of Agriculture, Southern Foods-Pate Dawson, Pepsi Bottling Ventures, Swisher Hygiene and Certified Angus Beef, the “Got To Be N.C.” Competition Dining Series pits North Carolina’s top chefs in five regional Iron Chef-style competitions that culminate with the battle of the regional champions at the Final Fire event in November.

In the competition, diners sample six gourmet dishes prepared by two competing chefs and vote after savoring each dish.

Fire on the Rock’s Blowing Rock series kicks off April 8 at the Meadowbrook Inn and Suites.

Eight chefs from the area will battle during preliminary rounds April 8-11, followed by the semifinals April 16-17 and the Fire on the Rock finalist determined on April 24.

The Fire on the Rock-Asheville finalist, Adam Hayes from Red Stag Grill, will go head-to-head with the Fire on the Rock-Blowing Rock finalist in Blowing Rock on April 30.

Chefs can enter the competition by visiting the website

Each regional winner receives the “Red Chef Jacket” and advances to the Final Fire series in November 2013 to vie for the 2013 state championship title and a cash prize.

Throughout the 2013 season, an estimated 10,000 guests will be served gourmet meals prepared by 80 chefs at 79 different battles.

Interested in attending? Consider buying tickets early — only available online at — as nearly every battle in the 2012 season sold out.

The mission of the yearlong, statewide competition is to engage the farmer, the chef and the diner in an evening of food and entertainment with the goal of promoting North Carolina chef talent and the use of local ingredients.

Each of the five regional competitions feature 16 chefs and 15 single-elimination dinner battles judged by the public.

This is the second year the concept has been executed statewide.

 It was started eight years ago by event host and founder Jimmy Crippen in Blowing Rock at Crippen’s Country Inn and Restaurant as Fire on the Rock.

Statewide sponsors include the North Carolina Department of, Southern Foods-Pate Dawson, Our State magazine, Pepsi Bottling Ventures and Certified Angus Beef.

The Office of the State Fire Marshal in North Carolina provides information at each dinner, as cooking is the No. 1 cause of home fires and burn injuries.

How it works: Each evening, two restaurants “battle” it out side-by-side in a single elimination, “Iron Chef”-style format.

Guests savor a six-course menu (three dishes from each chef without knowing whose food they’re tasting) created around a featured ingredient.

For all 15 dinners, the ingredient will come from a North Carolina source.

The featured ingredient is revealed to the chefs on the day of the event, and it must be used in each of their three courses.

Diners, alongside culinary and guest judges, rate each dish and determine who moves on to the next round and who goes home.

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