FEBRUARY 4, 2010 ISSUE

Fire on the Rock Competitions Kick Off February 9

The 5th annual Fire on the Rock Chef Challenge begins with chefs from Glidewell’s and Paolucci’s going head-to-head on Tuesday, February 9. Crippen’s Country Inn & Restaurant, located at 239 Sunset Drive in Blowing Rock, will host the 16 preliminary competitions, and then quarterfinals, each Tuesday and Wednesday in February and March.

This year’s Fire on the Rock is a bracket-style elimination of 20 area chefs battling for the $500 prize, plus bragging rights for themselves and their respective restaurants. Each chef, along with their two coworkers, must incorporate a secret ingredient into three courses.

Diners, meanwhile, who ultimately determine which team advances, are briefed in the basics of food judging by Crippen’s Owner Jimmy Crippen and enjoy a blind, six-course meal for $39 plus drinks, tax and tip. The diners’ scores of each dish are tallied at the end of the night to determine the winning team.

The public is encouraged to make reservations in advance for any competition day.

For more information and/or to make reservations, click to www.fireontherock.com. For more information, call Crippen’s at 828-295-3487.


Get to Know the Chefs

February 9 Competition

Skipper Clyburn, consulting chef, Glidewell’s

Have you competed in Fire on the Rock before?
“Glidewell’s participated last year, [but] this will be my first year. I’ve done similar competitions in the past.”

What are your thoughts on Fire on the Rock?
“I’m looking forward to it. It will be good, healthy competition. Hopefully I’ll last to the next round and continue.”

How long have you been in the food and beverage business?
“Twenty-six years, [mostly in upscale inns and resorts]. I’m originally from South Carolina; I moved here about 3.5 years ago from Charleston.”

Who will your teammates be?
“Chris Escott and Alex Charles.”



Carl Paolucci, head chef, Paolucci’s Italian Bar and Grille

Have you competed in Fire on the Rock before?
“The past two years.”

What were the results of that?
“I’ve never won.”

What are your thoughts on Fire on the Rock?
“I’m really excited about it. You get to cook the best food you can cook for a while [and] it’s exciting to have the competition aspect to it as well. Hopefully the people that come out and eat the food and enjoy it will try Paolucci’s on for size.”

How long have you been in the food and beverage business?
“My whole life. My parents have owned a restaurant [in Cary] since I was a kid.”

Who will your teammates be?
“Jordan Allen and Ben Allison.”


February 10 Competition

Pat Bagbey, chef-owner, Louisiana Purchase

Have you competed in Fire on the Rock before?
“No, it’s my first attempt at the competition.”

What are your thoughts on Fire on the Rock?
“It’s something new and different. We’ll see how it goes. Me and my guys talked about it and said, ‘sure, why not?’ [We’re] a little nervous even, [but] if nothing else, we know Sam pretty well…we’ll have a good time. It will be a good change of pace for us.”

How long have you been in the food and beverage business?
“About 13 years in the food and beverage business, about 10 with [Louisiana Purchase].”

Who will your teammates be?
“Colin Patience and Orlando Thompson.”



Sam Beasley, working chef, Gamekeeper Restaurant

Have you competed in Fire on the Rock before?
“[Yes,] last year. It was all professional, [with] everyone trying to do their best. We’d help [our competition] plate their food, they’d help us plate ours. We really had a good time and learned a lot.”

What were the results of that?
“We lost the first round by less than one percentage point—by one vote. Hopefully this year we’ll be able to win a round and advance.”

What are your thoughts on Fire on the Rock?
“I think it’s a really good way to showcase the local chefs [and it’s] a good thing for the community. It’s a slow time for everyone this time of year. It would be hard to do it, probably, in the summer. [It creates] a common bond for restaurants. It’s a good opportunity to open your eyes to what other people are doing.”

How long have you been in the food and beverage business?
“I’m 48, I’ve been cooking since I was 16. I’ve been in fine dining 20 years. I thank Ken and Wendy Gordon for giving me the opportunity to work here.”

Who will your teammates be?
“Gordon Reddick and Travis Sparks.”