After the stoves had cooled and the food judged, the New Hamburg Optimist Club stood alone as champions of the Iron Chef contest sponsored by Puddicombe House.
They narrowly defeated the New Hamburg Lionesses on March 9 by eight points, the closest cooking match-up of the four-week contest.
The winners took home a $500 prize given by Puddicombe House for a project of the Optimists’ choosing.
Both sides created beer-marinated steak for the final showdown, said Nick Cressman, Puddicombe’s restaurant manager.
For dessert, the Lionesses made a Zabaione, mixture of sugar, eggs, and sherry. The Optimists baked an apple with beer.
“They definitely stepped up their game for the finals,” Cressman said
“The gentlemen, their steak was off the charts,” agreed Puddicombe’s chef Lance Edwards.
Each week featured a secret ingredient that had to be incorporated into the meal. First came crabapples, then Baden coffee, maple syrup and, finally, beer.
The most unique creation came from the Lionesses in an earlier week, when they sprinkled roughly-ground coffee beans onto a salad for crunch and bitterness, Edwards said.
Another memorable meal came from Genevieve Epp and Gail Steele of the Wilmot Agricultural Society. They created memorable dishes like smoked cheddar and crabapple tart, local sausage with red cabbage and crabapples, finished with a crabapple compote and chocolate cake.
“I would serve them in my restaurant. I would probably be willing to pay for what they made,” Edward said. “It was restaurant food.”
The chef admitted he was a little nervous about so many new hands in his kitchen. But the amateurs survived the heat and the sharp knives each week to make some tasty dishes in only an hour.
“We were really happy with what they came up with.”
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