Chef Wars

The kitchen gets hot at Scene's Iron Fork competition.

Take six chefs, three judges, and one secret ingredient; mix well inside Windows on the River; then bake for 60 minutes, basting generously with complimentary drinks -- and what do you get? Scene's Iron Fork competition, part of the fifth-annual Tasteful Affair, taking place from 7 to 10 p.m. on Thursday, May 17.

Modeled after the Food Network's popular Iron Chef series, Iron Fork features a half-dozen of the region's most talented toques, including Brandt Evans (Blue Canyon Kitchen in Twinsburg), Jeff Fisher (Lago in Tremont), Richard Wise and Jamie Wynbrandt (Brennan's Colony in Cleveland Heights), Dino Tsarnas (the Cleveland Grill in Cleveland), and Brian Doyle (World's Fare Culinary Services in Brunswick). For food fans who haven't yet checked out Ohio City's newest hot spot, Light Bistro, the presence of executive chef and partner Matt Mathlage should sweeten the pot.

Each chef and his designated assistant will have one hour to create two dishes, using the secret ingredient as well as basics from a shared pantry. After the requisite amount of rushing, cussing, and pot-banging, each completed dish will be rated on taste, creativity, and originality. The panel of expert judges includes Cleveland Heights author, chef, and world-class foodie Michael Ruhlman (The Soul of a Chef, The French Laundry Cookbook) and veteran Cleveland chef, educator, and entrepreneur Michelle Gaw (the Watermark, Simply Done Dinners). (A third judge, representing the International Culinary Arts & Sciences Institute, has yet to be named.)

The throwdown starts at 7:30, with two randomly selected teams getting first crack at the "mystery box." Teams 3 and 4 will join in at 7:45, and the final two will start at 8. The winner will be crowned shortly after 9 p.m.

Meantime, guests to the 21-and-over event can mingle, indulge in complimentary spirits, and sample dishes from more than 20 local restaurants, including Gusto! (Little Italy), Don's Lighthouse (Cleveland), Gypsy Beans and Baking Company, and Loco Leprechaun (Westlake). Partial proceeds from the event will benefit the Western Reserve Historical Society. Tickets in advance are $30 each or four for $100; order at or by phone at 216-721-5722, ext. 445.

Tickets at the door: $40. The chance to watch your favorite chef crush the competition like a nuclear Cuisinart: Priceless. -- Cicora