Chefs compete in Iron Team competition

Published 12:04 am Thursday, October 25, 2007

NATCHEZ — The food was flying at Copiah-Lincoln Community College’s fifth annual Iron Teams competition.

The Iron Teams contest is based on the popular television show “Iron Chef.”

On “Iron Chef,” two chefs have a timed cook-off, and all their dishes must include a secret ingredient they receive just before the show begins.

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Co-Lin’s competition was held in an auditorium made to look like the set of Iron Chef.

With cameras, lights and plenty of action, an audience of about 50 gathered to watch the competition.

Ron Banks, returning champion from the fourth Iron Teams cook-off, was a no-show at this year’s competition.

Mark LaFrancis, the events coordinator, said he did not know why Banks did not show up.

Luckily, chef Alan Edmonds was in the audience to watch is daughter, Megan Edmonds, compete as an assistant, and stepped in as guest chef.

Edmonds has worked as a chef on what he called high end cruise lines.

Chef Lanny Brasher, Edmonds’ competitor, has been executive chef at Monmouth Plantation for 13 years.

Both chefs had two student assistants who are enrolled in Co-Lin’s Hospitality-Tourism Management Technology Program.

Lillie Givens, a Co-Lin student, was Brahser’s assistant.

“I just love to cook for people who love to eat and love to cook,” she said.

As the audience gathered Givens revealed her strategy for avoiding stage fright.

“I just won’t look at them,” she said. “If I don’t look, I’ll be fine.”

Leyvonne Smoot, who saw an advertisement for the event, was amongst eager audience members that just wanted to see some action.

While Smoot said that she does not watch “Iron Chef,” she was familiar with the premises of the program and was looking forward to the competition.

“This is a good chance to do something different in the day,” she said.

Once the saucepans were heated and the secret ingredients were revealed, the competition was on.

Tilapia, sun-dried tomatoes and artichoke hearts were the secret ingredients to be used in each dish.

Student helpers dashed behind their chefs, peeling potatoes and chopping onions, while chefs hunched over pans, sprinkling salt and whisking sauces.

And when it was all over, Lanny Brasher was the winner.

His dish, a pan-seared Tilapia with a mushroom, sun-dried tomatoes ragout, accompanied by a minted-zucchini, was favored by the judges.

“Things went smoothly, and I felt pretty good in there,” Brasher said.