Local cooking competition Tucson Knife Fight brought the heat this year.
The eight-week culinary competition featured local chefs, secret ingredients, and the sharpening of blades as the finale approached.
Each participating chef and the Knife Fight Venue brought a secret ingredient to the battle each week. Two chefs had 45 minutes to prepare three different dishes (and wow the judges).
Judges then decided on a winner based on the taste, presentation, and use of secret ingredients in the dishes.
Last year's Knife Fight champion, PY Steakhouse chef de cuisine Roderick LeDesma, lost by one point only a few rounds into the bracket this year.
2019 finals were between Doma's Delights owner-chef Dominique Stoller and Alpha Epsilon Pi executive chef Chris Burruel.
With basil, achiote paste, and live Dungeness crab as the secret ingredients, Stoller ended up as the new grand champion.
"This year was so fun competing in Knife Fight," Stoller said. "Each round you get to make a dish that is 100% special and original, and you have to be quick and think fast on your feet all while making sure you taste everything. Cooking under pressure like that gives me such a rush."
Stoller didn't quite win the competition in 2018, but she made it far. This year, her victory earned her the coveted prize: a custom knife from local knife maker Don Nguyen Knives.
"I went into this year's competition with what I learned from not winning last year," Stoller said. "And I was finally able to take home my soulmate knife. I am so incredibly thankful, excited, and happy."
The Cocktail Fight that took place was similar to that of the Knife Fight, but the participants had only 15 minutes to make three cocktails (using the secret ingredients).
Ryne Hoffman from the AC Hotel Tucson Downtown emerged as the cocktail champion.
Keep up with Knife Fight on Facebook.
Jackie Tran is a Tucson-based food writer, photographer, culinary educator, and owner-chef of the food truck Tran's Fats. Although he...