Fire in the Triangle Finalists: Team Herons vs Team Weathervane

It’s been one heck of a Competition Dining Series and tonight the final battle of “Fire in the Triangle” concludes with Herons at The Umstead Hotel vs Weathervane at A Southern Season.

The Got to be NC Competition Dining series was started by Jimmy Crippen owner of Crippen’s Country Inn and Restaurant in Blowing Rock, NC as a way to build business during the off season and has since exploded into a series across the state promoting local North Carolina ingredients, chefs and local restaurants. This year the series has travelled from Blowing Rock with “Fire on the Rock,” to Wilmington with “Fire on the Dock,” to Raleigh with “Fire in the Triangle” and starting in August and the last stop of the year, Winston-Salem with “Fire in the Triad.”

If you plan to attend the series in Winston-Salem may I suggest you purchase tickets as soon as possible as tickets to the Raleigh series sold out by day 3.

Many thanks to all the sponsors who make these events possible- the NC Department of Agriculture, Southern Foods, Whole Harvest, PDC, Comfortable Soles, Our State magazine, HIT Solutions and Crippens.

Fire in the Triangle Chefs

If there is one thing that has hit home during these events it’s the message from the State Fire Marshal, “Stand by your Pan.” Why? Because the number one cause of home fires and burn injuries is cooking and as an avid home chef, is a good reminder to never leave a working kitchen unattended.

Before each battle I’ve tried to share with you a little background information about each chef. Going into the final battle I decided it would be nice to find out a little more about the teams as a whole. I asked both Chef Childers of Herons and Chef Payne of Weathervane to tell me their thoughts on their overall experience at Competition Dining thus far and about their teammates. Enjoy!

John Childers and Team Herons at The Umstead Hotel and Spa

The Fire in the Triangle event has been great exposure for many things.  NC Agriculture, Fire Safety, The Umstead Hotel & Spa, Herons, myself and my Team.  Before participating in this competition there were not many people who knew of John Childers. I couldn’t be more thrilled with the coverage and support that Competition Dining has received.

I would have to say that the biggest reason I am thankful to have been involved in this tournament is that it exemplifies teamwork in every way.  Meeting the event organizers and chefs has been amazing.  The amount of planning that has gone into each and every battle and the event as a whole has seemed effortless.  The competition makes me proud to be a part of a driven and talented work force.

My team;

The two guys who I could not do this without…

Ricardo Madera-  Herons Sous Chef. Born in Puerto Rico.  Re-located from Boston, Mass. when his girlfriend Anna chose to pursue her MBA at Duke. Left L’Espelier and set his eyes on The Umstead Hotel as his next restaurant job. In Ricardo’s words, “I love to eat, I love to cook.”

Joshua Hughes- Native of Greenville, SC.  Came to North Carolina with his wife Kristen after accepting a Sous Chef position at The Umstead Hotel. Josh has since accepted The Executive Sous Chef position at The Umstead’s sister restaurant “An: New World Cuisine.”

Ryan Payne and Team Weathervane at A Southern Season

I have enjoyed this experience so much, I think that I am border line obsessed with this event. We practice constantly in the restaurant, trying out new things, trying to perfect some ideas. This experience has bonded our team together because an event like this is about team work and trusting the chef standing next to you. I enjoyed the last battle with Midtown Grille, their entire team was great to work with.  Both of the previous battles have been fun but we felt more comfortable with the last one. I enjoyed obviously when we won both times but it is more about the sense of achievement. All of our hard work and dedication payed off and hopefully we will be able to get another win on Monday.

My Team;

Spencer Carter is a graduate of the art institute of Charlotte. Previously he was the sous chef of Cantina 18, the executive chef of Peak City Grill in Alex and the Executive Chef of the Broad Bay Country Club in Virginia beach. The guy is gifted; his talent level is off the charts.

Vanessa Haydock is a graduate of the culinary institute of America. She was the Executive Sous Chef of a restaurant in Charleston SC before joining me at the Weathervane as a pastry assistant. I saw her talent and spoke with her on two separate occasions about moving back to the savory side. The second time she said yes and was promoted to Sous Chef. Needless to say I am very happy with both of my sous chefs.

Congratulations to all the chefs who have competed during “Fire in the Triangle.” It has been great fun and I look forward to the series returning next year.

Please stop by the blog tomorrow for the final battle recap.

Good luck tonight Chef Childers and Chef Payne.

Happy Eating,



One thought on “Fire in the Triangle Finalists: Team Herons vs Team Weathervane

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