Iron Chef, Key West

IMG_0216 This year marked the 16th annual Master Chef Competition benefiting the MARC House (Monroe Association for ReMARCable Citizens). The Westin provided a great location on the pier, complete with tents and far too few places to sit, or even lean.

Chefs from all over Key West were in attendance hoping to win the coveted 1st place title in each of three categories – appetizer, entree and dessert.

Clearly some restaurant folks understood the setup better than others. Those that made food in actual bite size portions that one could eat while standing, with a glass of wine in hand, were clearly thinking. Here is a hint, Chefs: if it requires a knife and more than two or three bites, at an event like this (read: with no place to sit) it is too big and unwieldy. Take your genius idea and reformat it so it can be enjoyed outside, standing up.

Food-wise, some of the standouts for me were Better Than Sex grilled brie IMG_0215and chocolate sandwich served with a strawberry prosecco soup. There was a guy who was stenciling little sugar hearts on every sandwich that went out. Tavern N’ Town had a wonderful black bean cake with mango salsa (the actual version served was topped with what appeared to be tasty roast pork). A & B LObster House did a pepper crusted tuna with mushrooms and a peach sauce, which somehow worked.

On the other hand, Hot Tin Roof’s seared tuna wrapped in root vegetables was a cold, soggy mess.  Lesson learned here: if you are making tuna, make it on site.

Overall, the event was a success and it  seemed that everyone was having a good time.  Here are some tips to the organizers to make next year even better:

  • The ticket setup was confusing. Have 2 levels of tickets – one with wine and one without, beyond that is confusing to everyone and the bartenders pay no attention anyway.
  • Get some more seats, not necessarily enough for everyone to be seated at once, but enough for us to have a fighting chance.
  • Does every chef have to make something with shrimp? Maybe you can expand the categories and include things like shellfish, fin fish, meat, poultry and (gasp) vegetarian. It would force the chefs to be a little more creative and expand the audience of people that would come.

I hope the event was profitable for the MARC house. See you next year.

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