In 2019, chef Wendy Gauthier took home the grand prize after serving up superb dishes involving octopus — the competition's secret ingredient. A couple of years zipped by without a follow-up Iron Chef Tucson competition but this year fans of the local event were graced with another friendly battle of culinary excellence.
The event was co-hosted by Matt Russell, who's been a food writer and broadcaster since 2009, and executive chef of Casino Del Sol, Ryan Clark. When it came to the tasting and judging of the dishes, Janet Balderas, Kyle Nottingham, and Alan Zeman had that covered.
Before the two chefs hopped on stage to baffle the judges, the "Culinary Experience" was in full effect, feeding those that took themselves on a self-guided tour around the premises. Various restaurants and vendors from all throughout southern Arizona were locked and loaded with delicious treats and mini meals.
Taste buds were totally tickled — in a good way.
As mentioned earlier, chef Gauthier returned to take on Ken Foy — the executive chef and mind behind Dante's Fire at 2526 E. Grant Rd.
Oddly enough, the chefs grew up less than a mile away from one another in northern Virginia, attended schools that only U.S. Route 1 separates, cooked at restaurants in the same area, and eventually relocated to Tucson. The chefs didn’t actually meet until a few years ago, though, and now they currently live across the street from each other.
That's pretty wild, right?
Read our June 2022 article: Chef Wendy Gauthier & Chef Ken Foy battle it out in this year's Iron Chef Tucson.
Well, the competition that went down on Saturday, July 30 was just as wild — eight courses of flavors and a secret ingredient of cherries thrown into the mix.
"We knew Wendy was going to be a strong competition," said chef Foy. "We knew we needed to execute flawlessly to have a chance to win. We liked the secret ingredient selection minus all of the pits we had to deal with so getting it all processed was the biggest challenge. It was easy to prepare after we got them ready, but it's time-consuming in a clocked competition."
Out of all of the courses chef Foy produced, one of them really stood out to the crew.
"The dish that showed our personality was the cayenne cherry compote, beer pesto, seared Asian pears, candied bacon, and candied orange zest," said chef Foy.
The dish garnered enough success that Foy has decided to add it to the menu at the midtown restaurant in the very near future. So, stop by Dante's Fire soon to congratulate the team and take part in their Happy Hour, which runs from 4 - 6 p.m. daily (all day on Sunday).
"I am honored to represent Tucson as the 2022 Iron Chef," said chef Foy. "I want to thank all of the Dante's Fire faithful and my restaurant family for their support over the years. We love you, Tucson."
The restaurant is open 4 - 9:30 p.m. on Sunday - Wednesday and 4 p.m. - 2 a.m. on Thursday - Saturday.
Dante’s Fire is located at 2526 E. Grant Rd. For hours and menus, visit dantesfireaz.com.
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