Sunday, November 18, 2012

Triangle Chef Ryan Payne from Weathervane Wins Got To Be NC Competition Dining Series Final Fire Battle of the Champions

Raleigh, N.C. (Nov. 18) After a year of 15-dinner competition dining events in Blowing Rock, Wilmington, the Triangle and the Triad, the Final Fire regional showdown began Thursday night; Michael Foreman from Bistro Roca in Blowing Rock bested Triad champion George Neal of 1618 Seafood Grille. Ryan Payne emerged victorious in the Friday night battle with Fire on the Dock champion Andy Hopper from Chefs 105 in Morehead City.

In the most competitive and highest scoring battle of the year, Chef Ryan Payne’s Weathervane Restaurant Team from A Southern Season in Chapel Hill edged out Blowing Rock’s Bistro Roca team led by Chef Michael Foreman.

At each series battle, chefs are required to use one (or two) featured NC products in each of their courses. Last night's featured products included Heritage Farms Pork from Seven Springs; the chefs were told to specifically use pork jowls and cushion cuts. The second ingredient was Pepsi, the soft drink developed in New Bern by a local pharmacist in 1898. Each chef team prepared three courses each using both featured products for 160 diners in a sold-out ballroom at the Renaissance Raleigh North Hills Hotel.

Payne’s highest scoring dish of the evening was dessert: Pork Fat Funnel Cake, Buttermilk Cake, Pepsi-Apple Ice Cream, Candied Pork Jowl, Cherry Pepsi Syrup. His "very pregnant" pastry chef Vanessa Haydocka, engineered the dish for the team.

Michael Foreman earned the highest score of the evening with a nod to his time spent in the Southwest: House-Made Jowl Pancetta Risotto with Taos-Style Braised Pork Cushion, Dos Equis Beer-Pepsi Jus & Pine Nut-Cumin Pistou.

Culinary pro judges for the evening included CNN Eatocracy Blog Managing Editor Kit Kinsman; Evan Nash of Johnson & Wales in Charlotte; Scott Craig of Charlotte, one of six Americans to win a Gold Medal at the International Culinary Olympics in Germany in Oct.; Dathan Kuzsak, food blogger and design editor at the Triangle Business Journal; and Daniel Benjamin, pastry chef at Herons at the Umstead Hotel & Spa in Cary. Culinary pro scores counted 70 percent for the evening. The audience scores counted 30 percent.
Weathervane Team with's Eatocracy blog managing editor, Kat Kinsman

A $4000 check was presented to Payne by Mac Sullivan, chief executive officer of Southern Foods-Pate Dawson and Jimmy Crippen, host and founder from Crippen’s Country Inn & Restaurant in Blowing Rock. Foreman’s team received a $1000 check. Ironman Forge in Charlotte presented unique, handmade knife sets to both teams.

For scores and complete details of last night’s food NC food extravaganza, visit Facebook at or


This is the first year for Got To Be NC Competition Dining as a statewide competition. Since January, 64 chefs have competed in four regional competitions and served more than 6000 diners. Last night’s event was the finale of the 2012 competition designed to engage the farmer, the chef and the diner in an exciting evening of food and entertainment with the goal of the promoting North Carolina chef talent and the use of local ingredients.

Fire on the Rock kicked off in Blowing Rock in Jan. 2012. Next, Fire on the Dock launched in Wilmington. Summer brought Fire in the Triangle to Raleigh. In Aug. and Sept, Fire in the Triad landed in Greensboro. Next year, the event plans to expand into Charlotte and include Asheville in its Western NC series.

The event would not have been possible without statewide sponsors: The North Carolina Department of Agriculture, Southern Foods/Pate Dawson, OUR STATE, Crippen’s Country Inn & Restaurant in Blowing Rock, Whole Harvest Foods and h.ITS Technology. The Office of the State Fire Marshal in North Carolina provides information at each dinner as cooking accidents are the number one cause of home fires.


Media Contact: Susan Dosier,, 704.993.7871 mobile

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