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Iron Chef Eugene Enters Second Heat

Belly owner and chef Brendan Mahaney prepares plates in the may 31 heat of Iron Chef Eugene. Photo courtesy LCC.
Belly owner and chef Brendan Mahaney prepares plates in the may 31 heat of Iron Chef Eugene. Photo courtesy LCC.

Eugene is in the middle of an epic culinary competition. On June 16, Iron Chef Eugene enters its second heat, with Tiffany Norton and Mark Kosmicki of Party Downtown facing off against Ryk Francisco and Duncan Bennington of WildCraft Ciderworks. The event helps raise funds for Lane Community College’s culinary and hospitality management program.

“The fun thing is that they don’t know what they’re getting into,” says Clive Wanstall, a chef instructor at LCC who will emcee the June 16 event. “They come in, look at a pile of food and think, ‘Oh my god. I’ve got to make a meal out of this.’ They have 60 minutes to make 10 plates of food that are exactly the same. It’s a pretty tall order.”

According to the rules of the competition, each chef must use a predetermined set of tools and secret ingredients that are revealed right before the competition starts.  

“Things don’t always go as smoothly as they could,” Wanstall says, “but this is where cooking is really at its finest. It shows off what a chef can do.”

While watching the competition, audience members are served a four-course meal made by students from LCC’s culinary program, along with wine from Oregon Wine Lab. 

In the first heat of Iron Chef Eugene on May 31, Taro Kobayashi and Patrick Reyes from Mame competed against Mikey Lawrence and Brendan Mahaney from Belly. The Belly team won, and whichever team wins on June 16 will compete against Belly on July 6. The winners of the third heat score a slot in Portland’s Bite of Oregon, where they will participate in the statewide Iron Chef Oregon competition.

Ryk Francisco of WildCraft Ciderworks says he’s expecting to have fun at the event. “We’re not trying to strategize,” he says, adding that it’s a friendly competition. “We have similar philosophies on food and sourcing of products, and I love what they do,” he says of Norton and Kosmicki from Party Downtown. 

As for Norton and Kosmicki: “We’re just gonna wing it,” Kosmicki says. “We might have a bit of a template for if they give us this or that, but then we’re winging it.”

 He says he and Norton are friends with the folks at WildCraft Ciderworks, but “we’re not going to take it easy on them,” he jokes. “We’ll just cook the good food that we cook and hope that it wins.”

Iron Chef Eugene Heat Two is 5 pm Tuesday, June 16, at the Center for Meeting and Learning on the LCC main campus. Tickets are $75; see brownpapertickets.com/event/1573200.