|Bird's eye view of the 2013 Iron Fork competition|
As guests streamed in the entrance to International Market Square, the six competing chefs surveyed the playing field, taking stock of the pantry items provided by Lunds and Byerly's, considering their ingredients, and sizing each other up. They crossed and uncrossed their arms, picked up knives before laying them carefully back down upon the cutting boards emblazoned with "Iron Fork 2013." The pressure built until the moment when the secret ingredient was finally revealed.
The secret ingredient for Iron Fork 2013 was: olives. As mundane as they seem, olives make for a surprisingly tricky ingredient, as they can quickly take over a dish and overpower all other flavors.
|Burch Steak's Daniel Del Prado prepared perfectly cooked pork tenderloin|
The judges watched as the chefs readied their cooking stations and steadied their nerves. Those tasked with the honor of deciding this year's winner included this week's City Pages cover boy, WCCO's Jason DeRusha
, sporting the same Barney-colored bathrobe from his cover photo; Brian Turner, DJ and resident foodie of KTWIN; Alex Lovera from sponsor Absolut Vodka; April Rog from the evening's charitable beneficiary, Second Harvest Heartland; and yours truly representing City Pages. (I was even offered my own velour robe, but don't quite have the commitment to schtick that Mr. DeRusha possesses.)
|Judge Jason DeRusha hard at work|
As the cooking fury commenced, attendees had the opportunity to circle the room, sampling treats from participating restaurants. Pizza Luce's slices were as popular as ever. There was a tree of donut holes from the lovely ladies of Glam Doll. Sea Salt served raw oysters on the half shell that flew off the ice as quickly as they were placed there. Servers circulated offering Absolut Cosmopolitans. Above, on the VIP mezzanine, guests were able to sit around the edge for a bird's-eye view of the downstairs antics while waiters passed small bites, such as a crisp, refreshing little salad from St. Paul's French Hen.
Below, the chefs were busy basting, turning, crisping chicken skin dusted in ras el hanout. They were making fresh pasta, mousseline, and deftly removing the silver skin from a pork tenderloin with a few flicks of a sharp-edged chef's knife.
Returning champ Landon Schoenefeld again prepared a dizzying array of components for his dish, with what seemed like almost no effort at all -- he even appeared to be smiling as he placed a charred eggplant puree on the plate, full of rich, smoky flavor to accent the olives, which, he admitted, "I don't really like."
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