Staff photo by Cole Dittmer
Competition Dining NC founder Jimmy Crippen, center, stands with the eight chefs competing in the Got to Be NC Fire on the Dock Competition Dining Series that will begin on Jan. 27 and take place at Bluewater Grill.
An abbreviated schedule of new chefs mixed with veterans will battle it out in the kitchen for this year’s Fire on the Dock Competition Dining series.
The battles will begin earlier than in previous years, starting on Jan. 27 and running through Feb. 17.
Got To Be NC Competition Dining Series founder Jimmy Crippen said the abbreviated schedule of only eight chefs competing as opposed to the previous schedule of 16 was an attempt to expand his statewide competition dining series in other venues. However, with the smaller lineup, Crippen said the competition should be more intense.
To be held again at Wrightsville Beach’s Bluewater Grill, the series will feature chefs from Southeastern North Carolina like Clark Merrell of Circa 81 in Morehead City and Michael Barnes of Prime 1079 in Atlantic Beach. The remaining chefs are either from Wilmington or Wrightsville Beach like James Rivenbark of South Beach Grill, Tiffany Eslien of Hops Supply Co., Josh Petty of Sweet and Savory, Katie Carter of Olive Café and Wine Bar, Kristen Mitchell of 1900 Restaurant and Lounge and Antoine Murray of Cape Fear Country Club.
A newcomer to the Fire on the Dock series, Katie Carter said she was excited to showcase the taste of the Olive Café in the competition.
“I just want to have a good time honestly; as long as I get everything on a plate I will be happy,” Carter said. “It is always a great time and I think they have a pretty smooth program here so it is an honor to be a part of it.”
After being knocked out in the first round of last year’s competition by the eventual series winner, James Rivenbark of South Beach Grill said his approach would be different this year.
“Last year I wasted time writing a menu and then we walked into the truck and none of that food was there; I had to flip my paper over and start from scratch,” Rivenbark said. “To be that nerve-racking it is some of the most fun you will have though.”
For each of the four preliminary chef battles, diners will vote for which courses they like the best out of the six prepared without knowing which chef crafted each. The chef with the highest point total at the end of the night will advance to one of the semifinal rounds to battle to reach the final.
The grand prize for the winning chef consists of $2,000, a handmade chef knife by Ironman Forge in Charlotte, the Red Chef Jacket and a place at the next level of competition — the Final Fire in Raleigh later in the year.
To reserve tickets for each battle and more information, visit www.competitiondiningnc.com