The Iron Chef 2011 Cook-off will be from 4 to 6:30 p.m. Saturday, July 23. For those whose specialty is a burger, the Iron Chef Burger 2011 Cook-off will be from 3 to 6 p.m. Sunday, July 24. Both cook-offs will take at the Twigg Cycle Activity Tent on the grounds of the Washington County Agriculture Education Center.
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There is a $50 registration fee for the cook-off and a $30 registration fee for the burger cook-off. Rules and registration forms can be found at www.agexpoandfair.org.
"The Iron Chef is designed to draw attention to the availability and accessibility of local products," said event organizer Leslie Hart. She said the first Iron Chef competition at the Ag Expo and Fair was held last year.
"I wanted to start it in Washington County because many people don't realize how much they can buy (locally)," Hart said.
The Iron Chef Burger competition has been added this year. Contestants will receive 1 pound of ground chuck at noon Saturday, and the competition will begin at 3 p.m. Sunday. Contestants may prepare their burgers, sauces and condiments at home, but all grilling must be done on location during the competition, and burgers must be completed by 5:55 p.m.
In the regular Iron Chef competition, teams of three to five contestants will receive nine mystery ingredients at noon Saturday, and the food must be ready for judging by 6:25 p.m. Charcoal grills and a bag of charcoal will be provided for each team.
"They get three meats, three veggies and three fruits," Hart said. "All of those items must appear in the meal."
She said contestants may take their food home to begin preparations, but all team members must be on location and ready to finish their meal preparations no later than 4 p.m. The official rules state that each team must prepare three servings each of an appetizer, a main dish including a vegetable, and one dessert. Contestants are free to use additional ingredients from home that need not be from the local area, but participants must submit a list of additional ingredients.
Jeff Weimer, a member of last year's winning team, said he prepared some of his own ingredients ahead of time.
"We knew going into it we would be given local foods, and knowing what is in season in the region, we were able to do some menu planning," said Weimer, a former professional chef.
"I made a demi-glace, and that was kind of my secret ingredient," Weimer said, and added that a demi-glace takes more than 24 hours to prepare. He also made a pastry shell and lemon curd in advance to use with whatever fruit was given to him.
Although he has not worked as a chef for eight years, Weimer said he still cooks frequently, and he and his wife enjoy cooking with vegetables and herbs from their garden.
"I tried to save as much (preparation work) as I could, to make a little bit of a show," he said.
Weimer said he partnered with his wife, Anne, and his colleague and former chef Mark Pastoral and Pastoral's wife, Anna to form the team "Chef X."
Weimer said Chef X served the judges a grilled chicken quesadilla with peach salsa, squash in a tomato boat with pesto sauce, thinly sliced, grilled ribeye steak with a roasted garlic demi-glace, potato rosti and a grilled peach tart with a mixed berry sauce.
"It was a very good experience," Weimer said.
Grilled chicken quesadilla with peach salsa
1/4 cup sharp cheddar cheese, shredded