So I’ve been on the political beat for the past several months and with full time NC politics in recess, it was my first chance to cover a story where all sides of a debate could claim a win-win outcome. Videographer Pete Bell and I visited the “Fire in the Triangle” event that’s part of the Competition Dining Series. It’s a tournament that’s held in several regions of North Carolina where professional chefs each create a three-course meal. The audience is a packed restaurant of amateurs and a few “pro” judges that will decide the winner. The audience isn’t told the secret ingredients that are incorporated into each course that’s served, a secret it seemed the guests enjoyed.
We had a good time for a work assignment. The food was spectacular. The six courses were small, awesome and you were pleasantly full after the “competition” ended. Speaking of full, 120 patrons (I’m told and it looked it) filled 1705 Prime. Cocktails from 6:30pm to 7pm and then dining, judging and voting until 9pm.
Being a reporter backstage, I couldn’t vote but I could see the kitchen, which is off-limits to the guests in the dining room. I noticed a competitive spirit but nothing overbearing. Each chef’s team helped the other prepare their plates. Each course was 120 plates – all were required to be served quickly because the six-course event lasts only 90 minutes.
I’m told tickets run anywhere from $59 to $119 per person and it’s a nice evening out on the town if you enjoy food or call yourself a “foodie.” I can cook but I’m no chef. Standing in a kitchen – staying WELL out-of-the-way because they’re fast movers with hot pans, pots, sauces and other foods – watching these men and women is impressive. Makes me appreciative to do what I do for a living.
It was also cool to meet the event’s founder, Jimmy Crippen. He started the contest when he lived in Blowing Rock, NC and has taken it statewide and earned sponsorships. He’s a professional chef and quite the showman for the events. I interviewed him for a web-exclusive clip.