My recent visit to the Got to Be NC Competition Dining Quarterfinals had me wondering—how did this event get started and where is it headed? The founder and host was nice enough to answers these questions and a few other things I was curious about.
Here is my interview with the man behind Got to Be NC Competition Dining, Jimmy Crippen:
Cookeatlife: Are you originally from North Carolina, or (like me) have you been here so long you have adopted it as your home?
Crippen: I’m a Florida native. My family found Boone, North Carolina in the late 70’s, bought a farm and I became a summer resident until 1994 when my wife and I opened Crippen’s Country Inn & Restaurant in Blowing Rock, North Carolina.
Cookeatlife: Did you always want to be a restaurateur? What led you to open Crippen’s and down the path to founding/hosting Competition Dining?
Crippen: I was actually groomed to be a car dealer, but didn’t find it interesting. I fell into the hospitality industry by serving banquets for the Dayton Marriott in college for side money.
Cookeatlife: I won’t ask about “favorites” as I know in this business that can be challenging, but I would like to know: what would your ideal meal include?
Crippen: An endless raw bar.
Cookeatlife: Why are farmers, NC agriculture, and locally made products so important to you? How do you feel Competition Dining supports these industries?
Crippen: North Carolina has been very good to me. The people and the products made here helped me to understand that this state is like one big family. It is easy to promote what you love.
Cookeatlife: How do you choose the chefs that will participate in each region? Are there specific criteria that must be met in order to participate in Competition Dining?
Crippen: Restaurant Chefs are asked to apply through an open call and invitations. There is a selection committee that reviews each application. Criteria are based on many things, but some of them are use of North Carolina products on their menus, open table rankings, social media reviews, reputation on the street and the ability to promote themselves.
Cookeatlife: Do you see this concept growing outside of North Carolina? Perhaps a regional (Southern or Mid-Atlantic) series?
Crippen: Yes, ultimately I would like to host the World Competition Dining Series! You in??
I am totally in! Until then, I hope to catch more Got to Be NC Competition Dining Series here in North Carolina. The event moves on to Charlotte this month with Fire in the City. See you there!