Things are Heating up in the Kitchen!

This year's Fire in the Triangle competitors with Competition Dining's Founder & Host, Jimmy Crippen (Center)

This year’s Fire in the Triangle competitors with Competition Dining’s Founder & Host, Jimmy Crippen (Center)

Yesterday afternoon the competitors and bracket for this year’s Fire in the Triangle by the Got to Be NC Competition Dining Series were announced at Zinda in downtown Raleigh. 16 chefs were introduced, each competing for the grand prize of $2,000, a handmade chef knife by Ironman Forge, the coveted “Red Chef Jacket” and entry into the statewide championship event called Final Fire. The series includes 15 dinner experiences in which two chefs battle it out and attending community members serve as judges for a blind six-course meal. Community votes comprise 70% of voting results and 3 culinary and guest judges will make up the remaining 30%. I had the opportunity to sit with Jimmy Crippen, the Got to Be NC Competition Dining Series founder and host, to talk about the ultimate goal of Fire in the Triangle and what makes the competition so unique.

“Our goal is to create emotionally inspiring dining experiences connecting the chef, the farmer and the diner.” Jimmy shared, “What sets it apart from all other competitions is that it is a full service 6 course dinner where all of the diners get to judge. The media that takes place along with it – the introductions, the interviews, everything comes into play – its almost like being in a television show, you are really in it.”

At each battle, the two participating chefs each prepare three courses centered on a secret or featured ingredient that comes from an NC farmer or artisan producer. Featured ingredients are are revealed to the chefs only one hour before they start cooking that day and must be used in each course.  There is no particular order in which courses are served and diners rate each dish in several categories via interactive app downloadable on your smartphone.

Jimmy shared that for each of the competitions, held at 1705 Prime, they can accommodate between 100-150 people per event meaning that somewhere between 1,500 and 2,00o people overall will be tasting the dishes. What started out as a stage show at the Blue Ridge Food and Wine Festival in 2005 quickly grew into a statewide competition in 2012 and has taken off ever since.

I asked Jimmy where he saw these competitions moving towards and he replied, “The sky is the limit. Pate Dawson-Southern Foods has really done a fantastic job in helping me create a footprint for this and giving me the support I needed to make this statewide event and who knows where it will go!”

Well we are excited to have Fire in the Triangle kick off with the first competition on June 23rd between Chef Dean Thompson of Flights and Chef Joseph Yarnell of Cantina 18. Here’s the rest of the first round brackets:

The quarterfinals will take place July 14 & 15, 21 & 22, followed by the semifinals on July 28 & 29 and finishing off with the championship event on August 4th.

Tickets are limited and will be selling out quickly so be sure to reserve your spot(s) now! Preliminary and quarterfinal battle dinner cost $59/per excluding beverage, tax and tip. Seats for the semifinals and the final battle are $69 excluding beverage, tax and tip. Community members can attend as many dinners as they like. Reservations are open now at www.competitiondining.com

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