Dining With Denise Neil

Old Town Farmers Market Iron Chef contest is on Saturday

Spectators at the 2014 Iron Chef event check out the entries.
Spectators at the 2014 Iron Chef event check out the entries. The Wichita Eagle

Labor Day weekend is approaching, and for me, that means one thing: It’s Iron Chef time.

Every Labor Day weekend, I serve as a judge at the Iron Chef Competition, an event now in its 13th year at the Old Town Farmers Market at First and Mosley.

The event asks local chefs to create a dish on the spot using ingredients they find at the market’s vendor booths. They must incorporate a secret ingredient, which they find out about just as the competition starts. Last year, it was kettle corn.

This year’s contest is on Saturday, and the contestants are Paul Freimuth from Harvest Kitchen/Bar in the Hyatt, Travis Russell from Public at the Brickyard and Stephanie Hand from Whole Foods. Intrust Bank Arena’s executive chef Ben George, who won last year’s competition with an amazing beef dish, also will be returning to defend his title.

People at the market can watch all the action, which is narrated by an emcee. They can’t taste the food, sadly, but it’s still fun to watch.

My co-judges will be longtime Iron Chef competitor Jason Febres of Taste & See and Gianni Bacci’s and local wine and food experts Guy and Beth Bower. The chefs will find out what the secret ingredient is at 8:30 a.m., and we should choose the winner around 9:45 a.m. The hours for Saturday’s market are 8 a.m. to noon.