UPDATE: Asheville chef advances toward Final Fire Championship

Season's at Highland Lake chef Michelle Bailey, right, with Got to Be NC Competition Dining Series founder and host Jimmy Crippen after her winning effort in the Nov. 19 Final Fire battle. Bailey has advanced to the next round, which takes place Nov. 20. Photo courtesy of Got to Be NC Competition Dining Series

Raleigh residents got a taste of Asheville last night, Nov. 19, when chef Michelle Bailey of Season’s at Highland Lake defeated Cape Fear Country Club’s chef Antoine Murray in the first round of Final Fire eliminations.

Bailey’s dish, the highest scoring of the night, was literally and figuratively a mouthful, containing a Two Shoe Farms mushroom-dusted and coriander-crusted certified Angus beef Ribeye, sweet potato coconut purée, roasted brussel sprouts and turnip greens, Piedmont Candy Co. peppermint peanut and Thai basil gremolata, and smoked peppermint candy and ginger demi glace. The secret ingredients for this round were mushrooms, peppermint and beef.

A notably precise scoring system awarded Bailey 31.91340483 points (compared to Murray’s 24.30465950) for her performance, sending the Western North Carolina chef back into battle with chef Jon Fortes of Charlotte tonight, Nov. 20, in Raleigh.

Here is the original Final Fire story Xpress published on Oct. 29:

Final Fire chef showdown expects to sell out

Browser open, monitor positioned, mouse at the ready. Last year’s Final Fire tickets sold out in just eight minutes according to event organizers, so those interested in rooting for Flat Rock’s own Michelle Bailey in this year’s culinary showdown should prepare before the ticket release at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 29.

The Got to Be NC Competition Dining Series, according to a press release, aims to “celebrate local North Carolina products and agriculture and to showcase the culinary ingenuity and talent across the state.” This year’s Final Fire, the final challenge series for Got to Be NC, will host competitors from Asheville, Charlotte, Greensboro, Raleigh and Wilmington at four live dinner events in Raleigh, N.C.

Bailey qualified by winning the 2014 Fire on the Rock challenge and will first compete on Wednesday, Nov. 19. The Season’s at Highland Lake chef describes her cooking style as “refined American cuisine utilizing local, sustainably sourced ingredients with a focus on traditional Southern techniques and international flavor profiles.”

Four single-elimination, Iron Chef-style dinner battles, held daily Nov. 19-22, culminate in the final state championship round on Nov. 22. The schedule is as follows:

Nov. 19: Michelle Bailey (Asheville) versus Antoine Murray (Wilmington)
Nov. 20: Jon Fortes (Charlotte) versus Nov. 19 winner
Nov. 21: Tim Thompson (Greensboro) versus Dean Thompson (Raleigh)
Nov. 22 state championship dinner: Nov. 20 winner versus Nov. 21 winner

Competing chefs are familiar with the format, which mimics the qualifying rounds held throughout the year. Two contestants each prepare a three-course meal with each course highlighting a secret NC-sourced ingredient that is revealed just an hour before ovens and stove tops spring into action.

The series promotes each guest to the position of judge using an interactive smart phone app. Audience members conduct a blind taste test, sampling each of the six courses to decide democratically who advances.

All dinner challenges will be held at Renaissance North Hills Raleigh, 4100 Main St. (at North Hills Street). Tickets will be available at competitiondining.com starting at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 29. and cost $129-$139 per person per night.


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About Kat McReynolds
Kat studied entrepreneurship and music business at the University of Miami and earned her MBA at Appalachian State University. Follow me @katmAVL

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One thought on “UPDATE: Asheville chef advances toward Final Fire Championship

  1. Kat McReynolds

    Update: Chef Bailey was eliminated during the Nov. 20 round. Jon Fortes advanced with a score of 27.18593190 compared to Bailey’s 23.71029589. I can’t get over the intensity of the scoring system.

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