Meet Your “Fire on the Rock” Chefs, Battle Three


We are halfway though the “Got to be NC” Competition Dining preliminaries of the Asheville “Fire on the Rock” and it just keeps getting better and better. The week began with 8 chefs, two battling against each other each night, “Iron Chef” style in hopes of getting to the semi-finals stage taking place next week.

The first night brought us Chef Peter Pollay and team from Posana Café vs Chef Scott Wallace and team from Rankin Vault. The secret ingredient was announced and Battle Cheese was underway. Chef Pollay won that night.

Team Pollay (left) and Team Wallace (right)
Team Pollay (left) and Team Wallace (right)

Last night brought us Chef Adam Hayes and team from Red Stag Grill  in the Grand Bohemian Hotel vs Chef John Strauss and team from Hobnob in Brevard. This time it was Battle Pork Butt, and the win went to Chef Hayes.

Team Hobnob (left), Team Red Stag Grill (right)
Team Hobnob (left), Team Red Stag Grill (right)

Chef Pollay and Chef Hayes will battle each other in the semi-finals next Tuesday, January 22, 2013. For tickets to this event go here, and go soon, because they will sell out.

Tonight’s battle brings together Chef Matthew Minor and team from The Asheville Public (please note, this restaurant officially closed January 13th) vs Chef Jason Brian and team from Jack of the Wood. See below to learn more about these two chefs, including a Q & A with Chef Brian.

What will the secret ingredient be?

If you have not heard of the “Got to be NC” Competition Dining Series, it is a unique 15-dinner competition dining experience traveling across five different regions of the state starting this week with “Fire in the Rock” in Asheville.  Each evening, two restaurants “battle” it out side by side in a single elimination, “Iron Chef”-style format. Each chef must create three courses, for a total of six plates, each using a “secret” North Carolina Ingredient.


If you are unable to attend but want to keep up with what’s happening, you can follow the experience on Facebook and Twitter. If using Twitter, you can follow the conversation using the hashtag #CompDiningNC. You can also follow my blog as I will post daily recaps of each battle. Look for the pork butt battle recap shortly.

So let’s meet our chefs for tonight’s battle…..

CHEF MATTHEW MINOR  from The Asheville Public


My cooking style is: Contemporary eclectic

My competitive advantage is: the fact that I am passionate about my craft, I love a challenge and love to compete!

CHEF JASON BRIAN from Jack of the Wood


My cooking style is: American bar food

The NC ingredients I use are: rabbit, trout, pork, bison, chicken, beef, cheese, and various produce


Me: With the competition dining series focusing on NC products, how do you as a chef incorporate local ingredients onto your menu?

Chef Brian: At Jack of the Wood we try to source as many local ingredients as possible within reason.  Right now our rabbit, beef, pork, lamb, bison, and chicken are all either local or sourced through locally based businesses/farms.

Me: How Important is sourcing locally for your restaurant to you?

Chef Brian:  We feel that it is a very important part of what we do.  We have been around for quite some time now and have always been involved in the local scene, whether it be through beer, bread, or food.  It is an integral part of who we are and what we do.

Me: Is this your first experience in the Competition Dining Series? If yes, what made you decide to compete? If no, what was the most important thing you learned in last year’s competition?

Chef Brian:  This is our first year in the CDS and we decided to give it a try to get our name out there and let people know that we aren’t just a bar, we have great food too. This will give me an opportunity to showcase my skills.

Me: As for the secret ingredient, what are you most hoping for?

Chef Brian:  Not sure if I have a good answer to this one.  Mainly I’m hoping for something that we are familiar with.  On the other hand it would be cool to get something completely random that would be a challenge for everyone.

Me: Least hoping for?

Chef Brian:  Hopefully not something that I use all the time; I want to get creative with it.

Me: How have you prepped yourself and your team for this event?

Chef Brian:  We have gone over a bit of strategy.  Mainly we are focusing on the fact that we are kind of an underdog in the competition and we really just want to come in and represent ourselves and the business as well as we can.

Me: Do you have a strategy for winning over your opponent?

Chef Brian:  Just give it 110% and leave it all in the kitchen.  We also have a few tricks up our sleeve as well.

Me: What do you think it takes to win?

Chef Brian: Vision, dedication, and skill.

Me: Aside from winning, of course, what are you looking to walk away from this experience with?

Chef Brian:  I think the experience itself is good enough for me.  We have all watched “Iron Chef” on television and wondered what it would be like to do that.  Well now is the chance for it.

Me: Any other comments you would like people to know about you and your team?

Chef Brian: We just want to thank everyone who believes in us and supports us.  We are going to give the best effort we can because we did come to win. 


“The “Got To Be NC” Competition Dining Series is a brand new event sponsored by the North Carolina Department of AgricultureSouthern Foods/Pate Dawson,Crippen’s Country Inn & RestaurantOur State magazine and local partners in each region of the state. The goal of the series is to celebrate local North Carolina products and agriculture and to showcase the culinary ingenuity and talent across our state.

To find out more about Asheville’s “Fire on the Rock,” and to purchase tickets, go here. To keep up with the competition, stop by my blog each morning to meet that evenings competing chefs, and again the following morning for a battle recap.


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