By Jacob Mathias
Chefs and secret ingredients are in line for the 6th annual Iron Chef competition and fundraiser for the South Wood County Humane Society on Thursday, June 11.
“We do similar to the Iron Chef you’d see on Food Network where there’s actually a reveal of a secret ingredient,” said Bridget Chariton, executive director of SWCHS. “We actually reveal that at Lunch by the River in Veteran’s Park.”
Last year’s secret theme ingredients were Wisconsin produced syrups and honeys and years past have shown chef’s cheese, cranberries and spirits all produced in Wisconsin.
SWCHS raised $15,000 at last year’s Iron Chef with hopes to exceed that this year.
“We always want to do better than the year previous,” said Chariton. “The fact that we can sell out is great…the skies the limit as far as the raffle is concerned.”
Tickets for raffle baskets valuing $400 will also be available to the public prior to the event including a vacation stay in Costa Rica, a staycation package including a new recliner and a Kalahari Resort stay in Wisconsin Dells.
The Iron Chef competition is one of four major fundraising events for the Human Society including the 5K9 walk/run which recently raised over $10,000, a Christmas bazaar and the Souper Snow Sculpture Spectacular, a soup feed and sculpture completion.
The serving and judging of the meals is held the evening following the reveal at the Nekoosa Community Center where 192 guests and the five judges will eat dishes inspired by the secret ingredient.
Local chefs are invited to participate in the Iron Chef cooking competition and food is donated by their respective restaurants. Seats are sold to the public for $50 which pays for a 4-course meal prepared by one of the chefs. A panel of five judges evaluate the individual dishes and two awards, one for Iron Chef and one for Best Use of the Secret Ingredient are given.
Chefs will be on site from Sportsmans Pub and Grille, Great Expectations, Canteen Services, Baker St. Grill, Romano’s Pizzeria, Nekoosa Public Schools, Marjorie’s Steakhouse and the Hotel Mead.
Chef Scott Keller of Canteen Services at Mid-State Technical College took the top award of Iron Chef last year. Keller also competed in the Iron Chef in the past working for Baker Street Grill.
“For my entrée I did a stuffed pork loin with Swiss cheese and asparagus on a bed of cranberry infused rice with a Leinenkugel’s Honey Weiss cream sauce,” said Keller.
Last year’s winner for best use of the secret ingredient, Chef Matt Andres of Nekoosa Public Schools, is returning to the competition this year. His winning dish was a center cut pork chop with a cranberry honey cherry sauce.
“It’s a real fun event…I have students working with me so it’s a real good building process. I have seniors in high school that plan on going into the culinary field afterwards so it’s a really good jump start competition they can work on with me,” said Andres.
SWCHS houses on average 35 dogs and 100 cats available for adoption.
Tickets for the Iron Chef event can be purchased at the South Wood County Human Society at 3621 64th St. N, Wisconsin Rapids, Wis.