It was a chaotic scene at Mount Baker Secondary School on Wednesday night, as the Kootenay Ice traded their sticks for kitchen utensils for the second annual Iron Chef competition.
Split up into three groups named after the famous chefs of Guy Fieri, Bobby Flay and Gordon Ramsay, each team had a $90 budget to buy their ingredients and make a salad, pasta and meat dish and dessert for three judges.
After an hour of preparation time, each group presented their best effort, and it was Team Guy Fieri that came out on top of the other two groups.
Judged on taste, texture, preparation and presentation, Team Guy Fieri won a clean sweep in all categories and earned a $200 gift certificate to a local restaurant.
While the gift card in itself is a good incentive to win, the bragging rights is the most important element at stake in the competition, said defenceman Jagger Dirk.
“We’re all pretty competitive, we all want to be on top,” said Dirk, “and even in little things like this—cooking or community events, if we’re playing against each other—we’re very competitive and we all want to come out on top.
“Nobody likes being a loser.”
Team Guy Fieri, made up of Dirk, Luke Philp, Wyatt Hoflin, Jeff Hubic, Rinat Valiev, Landon Cross, Hudson Elynuik and Ryan Chynoweth, were pretty meticulous in their preparation, having a meeting beforehand to divvy up roles and responsibilities.
“Everybody knew what they were doing,” Dirk said. “There were eight guys, so two guys to a station and everybody kind of did their own thing, but at the end of the day when everything came together, it worked perfectly.”
Hoflin and Philp prepared a Greek salad, Hubic and Valiev did dessert, Elynuik and Chynoweth handled the pasta, while Dirk and Cross checked on the chicken.
All three groups had to work hard to impress the judging panel of James Farnan with ShawTV, Ice broadcaster Jeff Hollick and yours truly representing the Cranbrook Daily Townsman.
The meals prepared from each group ranged from impressive to unfortunate. Team Bobby Flay’s salsa chicken took the tastebuds on a wild roller coaster ride, while Team Gordon Ramsay only prepared one dessert to split between three judges.
Team Guy Fieri seemed to knock it out of the park with their pasta and meat dishes, as one judge exclaimed he’d want it for his final meal if on death row.
Dirk said his crew was pretty confident as each item went up to the judges.
“We slipped them five bucks each under the table, made sure they gave us the right…” said Dirk, trailing off at the end of his sentence.
While each group prepared their dishes for the judges, they were under the watchful eye of head coach Ryan McGill and his assistant, Jay Henderson, to see how everyone worked together and to prevent any potential culinary disasters.
“I think that’s the best thing I witnessed, is how hard they worked, even though the food is absolutely atrocious,” said McGill, “and it really goes a long way with what they really know about how hard it is to prepare food and get ready for what they need as far as good nutrition.
“It’s really neat to see how lighthearted it is. It’s not real serious, they have a good time and the best thing is, it’s away from the rink.”
McGill had high praise for the winners, noting how organized they were at pairing up to prepare each of the four dishes, while adding that the losing team seemed to be a ‘train wreck’ right from the beginning.
McGill and Henderson made up each team with the intent of watching how certain players interacted with each other.
“We have some guys that maybe need a little help, we have some guys that are true leaders,” said McGill, “and we wanted to put some guys together to see if there’d be any friction and in some groups, there was, and in some groups. there wasn’t, but they obviously learned to try to work through that.”
Dirk added that while the contest was fun for some friendly competition between teammates, there were serious themes at work.
“Teamwork and camaraderie,” said Dirk. “Lots of communication in the kitchen can translate to on the ice, so that’ll help us there.
“And just having fun. It’s hard to play well when you’re not having fun.”
NOTES: New Ice acquisitions Landon Cross and Tim Bozon have arrived from Kamloops and suited up for their first practice in the afternoon before hitting the grocery store and the Mount Baker school kitchen for the Iron Chef competition.