There is indeed a Fire in the Triangle that was ignited on June 11 and its blaze will be burning until July 31!  Not to worry, there are no actual flames that the fire department needs to extinguish, though the fire fighters are certainly involved.
The kindling that sparked Fire in the Triangle was Chef Jimmy Crippen, owner of Crippen’s Country Inn and Restaurant in Blowing Rock.  Jimmy Crippen’s original Competition Dining event, Fire on the Rock, which began seven years ago, has spread across our state like wild fire.  This year, Crippen joined forces with the NC Department of Agriculture’s Got to Be NC campaign and has taken the contest from the rock to the dock.
Fire on the Rock, Blowing Rock
Fire on the Dock, Wrightsville Beach
Fire in the Triangle, Raleigh, current
Fire in the Triad, Greensboro, upcoming
Here’s how it works:  Two chefs, each with the help of two assistants, prepare three courses for about 100 people using a secret ingredient that is revealed only on the day of the competition. They have six hours to plan their menus, cook and then arrange each of their three dishes on 100 individual plates.  
I was fortunate to attend the second battle held on, June 12.  Il Palio‘s Executive Chef Rose was in battle with Chef Josh DeCarolis, from Jujube Restaurant.  The secret ingredient was a variety of mustards from Lusty Monk Mustards located in Asheville. 

The evening was full of electricity and energy.  Cheers and the sense of comradery were present throughout the dining room and from what I understand, in the kitchen as well.  The run of show was efficient, which was quite a feat due to all of the technical aspects of voting and getting course after course set in front of more than 100 attendees!  Flat screens were strategically placed around the room so we all could view descriptions of each dish as it was presented.  The organizers, sponsors, judges, and press are to be congratulated as well!
I am all aglow to let readers know that the winners in the week’s first three battles are:
Shane Ingram, Four Square Restaurant
Adam Rose, Il Palio Ristorante, at the Siena Hotel
Ryan Payne, The Weathervane, at Southern Season
More smoking battles are on the horizon! Go to for full details.

A portion of ticket sales will be donated to NC’s Office of the State Fire Marshal to support local fire fighters because the leading cause of home fires and burn injuries is cooking.

(Please excuse, it is not my usual style to be “cute,” but it has been very difficult for me to resist using more than a few applicable metaphors in this posting.)

Who are your favorites in the Fire in the Triangle competition? Who should be in the Fire in the Triad competition? Let us know in the Comments below!