For the most part, the chef community in any city is a fraternity.
Much like TV folk may gather on the weekends for a few Diet Shasta chocolate sodas or attorneys will get together to play golf on a Saturday morning, chefs do the same.
Heck, sometimes during their weekend - defined as Monday - they'll even get together to play golf.
They are usually friends who get together and talk shop, share recipe ideas or discuss sports.
On Feb. 23, four area chefs are going to get together to cook. Against each other, for a year's worth of bragging rights. All in good fun, of course.
Iron Chef Savannah is back for its second go-round at the Southern Women's Show at the International Trade & Convention Center. Four chefs, one hour, one secret ingredient, one champion and one great time.
This year's competition will be similar to last year's, with a few minor adjustments to make the experience as efficient and enjoyable for everyone. The nuts and bolts are simple.
About a week out, our four contestants will be given a list of four or five potential secret ingredients.
On game day, on stage in front of a live audience, we will reveal one secret ingredient that the chefs will then need to use in their dishes. Each chef will then have one hour to prepare two courses for our three judges.
This year, there is a tiny twist, though. We will have Chef Jean Vendeville of Savannah Technical College making the rounds among the chefs, making sure everyone is following the rules and making everything from scratch. Points will be deducted accordingly, but chefs won't be told until afterward. Scores will be tallied and we will name a winner.
Sound like a good time? Of course it will be.
Now the magic question becomes ... who are the contestants? I thought you'd never ask.
Cameron Cheney is executive chef at B. Tillman on Savannah's Southside - the restaurant inside Byrd Cookie Company. Cameron is well traveled as a chef - like many chefs are. He's worked anywhere from Utah to Athens alongside celebrity chef Hugh Acheson. His creativity is a welcome addition to the culinary community here in Savannah. He had a devilish grin the day we stopped in to chat with him about this event.
Plan on something spectacular from the gang at B. Tillman.
Seth Musler and Patrick Zimmerman are owner/operators of Betty Bombers and Butterhead Greens. Betty Bombers - inside the American Legion on Bull Street - is home to some of Savannah's best sandwiches. They like to call it "just good beer drinking food," which it is, but it's probably just as popular as "after too many beers food," too. Regardless, these guys have a background in fine dining. Sure, it's all fried and grilled now, but they know what they are doing with flavors. Their experience includes stints at Sapphire Grill, George's out on Tybee (remember that place?) and runs as private chefs across the country. They will fit in very nicely.
Kirk Blaine, executive chef at Driftaway CafÃ© in Sandfly, is no secret here in Savannah. He has a huge following and a long list of regulars. Adding to that, he was one of the shining stars of the Savannah Food and Wine Festival in November with the dish he prepared for opening night at Bethesda Academy. He's a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America and already wins the award for "Most Excited" about this competition.
He won't disappoint.
Finally, Christopher Adgate is executive chef at Belford's in City Market. Chris has been in Savannah just less a year. In that time, he has given the menu at Belford's a serious shot in the arm, and is packing them in almost daily. Not only have some of his dishes won some awards in town, but he is regularly the most popular spot on our Sunday night Eat It and Like It Gourmet Foodie Tour. Not only does Chris love to experiement with taste, but his visuals are some of the best we've seen in Savannah outside of the "Mount Rushmore" restaurants.
Four chefs, one secret ingredient, one hour, one champion. Go ahead and save the date now. Sunday, Feb. 23, at the Southern Women's Show. The guys are being encouraged to share some samples and/or leftovers with the audience. No promises, but you never know. See you there.