Ben Kramer’s team 2009

Iron Chef Centrex 2011 draws ever nearer. The dates for this years food show are March 20 + 21 and it will be held at the Winnipeg Convention Centre, as per usual. If anyone is interested in checking the competition out please DO IT!!! We have 8 competing teams from Winnipeg’s finest restaurant, hotel, and foodservice operations. The winning team last year was Ben Kramer’s from Diversity Foodservices at the U of W and the runner-up was Alex Svenne’s from Bistro 7 1/4. What an astounding round! They put so many plates up the judges could hardly keep up with tasting them! We had a blast!

This will be the third year that Melissa and I have run the Iron Chef Centrex competition. Each year it has gone a little more smoothly so we are feeling pretty pumped about 2011. We had no idea what we were getting in for when we originally approached Centrex about reviving the competition as an element of the show. We walked in to the tradeshow the first year to start setting our mise en place up and both of our jaws dropped at the size and scope of our display. WOW! Centrex has been absolutely wonderful and it has been a very co-operative process to keep the competition running each year. We value their support and the resources that they provide us with. It has been great working with the organizers and getting a glimpse of what goes into planning and running a show of that size. I am proud to be a contributor to their success.

So far for this year we have seven teams confirmed. There is one more spot up for grabs. Melissa and I are planning some exciting things for the competition this year. They are secret things though! I’ll try to remember to blog about how everything goes after the fact.

Two teams battle it out

I still need to find my judges. I have 21 judging spots to fill. I generally contact about 40 people trying to fill the positions. We have three judges per round and try to keep things as fair as possible by including at least one chef, one supplier and one celebrity in each judging panel. Last year we had awesome judges. I was super appreciative of the time they took to come down to the show and that they participated in our competition. I was especially excited for the enthusiasm with which they approached their task. I really hope I can convince them to come back for Iron Chef Centrex 2011.

 Melissa is the champ who mainly takes care of organizing the common table and sourcing our products. She was a superstar the first year we did this as I had an infant to lug around with me everywhere. I wasn’t as involved as I had hoped to be, but she totally rocked it. I think (/hope) that I made up for it last year. We usually spend the week prior to the competition running around gathering equipment, supplies and food products. We spend most of the day saturday portioning out ingredients for the teams common tables. We give them set quantities of most things, like arborio rice for example. Last year we gave them 200g. We try to keep our common table pretty basic and have ingredients that we can foresee being used in at least three or more different ways. We also want to provide enough diversity to provide the teams with creative options when they are given their secret ingredients. We want them to put up great plates and we want to facilitate the creation of them. We have switched up the common table ingredients a little bit this year. We hope that the chefs are excited by the changes. And while we continue to get questions from them regarding the inclusion of molecular gastronomic additives and chemicals we have once again used the basic rule that “you want it, bring it. But bring enough to share between EVERY team.” We want this competition to showcase basic culinary skills. If you are crazy enough to spend part of the one hour time limit making carrot pearls as a garnish for your dish, by all means bring in the sodium alginate and calcium chloride. We would have to ensure fairness by making such things available across the board though.

Team Mirlycourtois 2009

So last year our competing teams came from: Provence Bistro, La P’tit France, MTS Centre,  Bistro 7 1/4, The Fairmont Hotel, Glendale Golf and Country Club, Bonfire Bistro, and Diversity Foodservices. Everyone did an amazing job and I hope that they had as much fun cooking their food as we did watching them serve up dishes to the judges.

This years competition will take place March 20 and 21. We start the one hour rounds on Sunday at noon and go on until 5:30 pm. The semi finals will again be held on the Monday of the show and will be at 11am, and 12:30 pm with the finals taking place at 2:30 pm.


I’m getting excited for the competition already. I hope that y’all come on down and see the show. The semi finals and finals are always pretty fierce. There is $1000 of prize money at stake as well as some serious bragging rights. Take ‘er easy and have a great week.

Iron Chef Centrex 2009

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