Nashville Iron Fork 12 Congratulates Winner Chef Laura Wilson Again!

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The Nashville food scene is coming into its own and musicians are showing they also have a foodie gene.  Iron Fork  2012 proved it when five very worthy chefs came to the Marathon Motor Works concert space in Marathon Village, not to play music, but to cook  stellar food and compete for the 2012 Iron Fork title last Wednesday night, benefiting Second Harvest Food Bank.

The Iron Fork not only entertained the crowd as the chefs flexed their culinary muscles showing what they could do with the secret ingredient,  but restaurant samples could have fed every guest from every Donald Trump wedding and all the apprentices.

At this fifth annual Iron Fork event, several restaurants showed their support and set up food stations to feed  the hungry crowd, including beer, wine and cocktails featuring a mint julep sponsored by Four Roses Bourbon and  a tequila sunrise sponsored by Cuestion Tequila.

The Secret Ingredient – Crimini, Oyster and Shitaki Mushrooms

My cooking brain began to think, “would I do with mushrooms?  Surely I would stuff them into something as Chef Jason Brumm did with a wild mushroom ravioli. Maybe I would tranform them as Chef Vinny Tardo did with a mushroom polenta and mushroom mousse.  I might have to put bacon somewhere as Chef Michael Kidd did with a bacon mushroom duxelle, or highlight a beautiful protein like chili rubbed rack of lamb with a mushroom gremolata as Chef Roderick Bailey did.  I doubt I would have ever thought of using candy and  making a duxelle atop an Olive Sinclair nib brittle crepe accompanied by a mushroom beignet with mushroom sabayon, as Chef Laura Wilson did, which pushed her to the top once again. Bravo Chef Wilson!

Food Stations prepped and ready to go, food provided by Whole Foods.

The Chefs

Chef Jason Brumm, Merchants: poached filet; fresh ricotta and wild mushroom ravioli with mushroom red wine syrup; seared Gulf shrimp with wild mushroom pesto; bacon poached potato salad.

Chef Roderick Bailey, The Silly Goose: chili-rubbed rack of lamb with curried sweet potato puree; grilled mushroom gremolata; tamarind sauteed mushrooms; apple-mint salad; cilantro chimichurri.

Chef Michael Kidd, Bound’ry: fennel seed pork tenderloin; mushroom bacon duxelle; sweet potato-asparagus fricassee; ghost-chili shrimp, pickled mushrooms in Pedro Ximinez vinegar; yellow pepper-passion fruit coulis; mushroom sherry gastrique; bacon-wrapped saba-soaked fig.

Chef Vinny Tardo, Saffire: fennel-crusted beef loin over mushroom polenta with mushroom mousse; arugula-herb salad and sauteed mushrooms with mushroom vinaigrette; tomato-saffron coulis.

Chef Laura Wilson, Nashville Farmers’ Market  who defended her title and won once again cooking, Olive & Sinclair bourbon nib brittle crepe with mushroom duxelle; asparagus broth crab and mushroom beignets with mushroom sabayon.

I have admired Chef Laura for a while because she headed up the deli and hot bar at the Turnip Truck in the Gulch. It was so impressive I would take a trip from Franklin just to eat there. She steps way outside the box, and in her position at the Nashville’s Farmer’s Market, she has great plans to narrow the connection between cook and local farmer, with the same zeal and passion as Alice Waters. She is also heading a program to support the micro food artisan.

The Food Stations Fed an Army of Foodies

Not only were the chefs amazing in their performance and creativity at this week’s  Iron Fork, the turnout was a smashing success, foodies and non-foodies lining up around the building waiting for the doors to open. They came to cheer on the chefs and sample amazing food from participating restaurants who offered such fare as mac and cheese jalapeno poppers from the Copper Kettle, shaved prime rib sliders from Mere Bulles.

I tried so hard to eat just a bite of this or that, but even the bites added up and I did hit  Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream Jeni’s Ice Cream twice for that goat cheese and fig. Charles from Local Forkful hit Jeni’s four times, which is saying a lot considering all the choices. I got to meet another local blogger I’ve been following, Leah of So How’s it Taste who ended her night like me, stuffed and in need of a run.

I apologize for the quality of my pictures. It was dark and so crowded (but in a fun way) that I couldn’t linger at a table too long. But, I want to show off our Nashville eateries. I didn’t get to eat everything at every station, and I’m sorry if I don’t mention everything.

I started with wild mushroom ravioli at Porta Via. I’ve heard so many good things about this place and now I know why.

Noshville offered up Reuben’s and Rachel’s, but I went for their smoked salmon.

A special salsa, a shot of bloody Mary mix topped off with shrimp from Chago’s Cantina was my friend’s pick of the night favorite along with a quino stuffed mushroom with pea pesto from Wild Iris.

Urban Flats knows how to make accompanying sauces.

Spicy beef was a nice surprise, and smoked salmon another favorite. You can see a pattern of my love for smoked salmon.

Bongo Java’s Hot and Cold Caramel Popsicle dipped in chocolate and it’s recommended you swirl it in your coffee. Yum.

I don’t usually eat fried food, but who can resist mac and cheese jalapeno poppers from Copper Kettle.

Olive and Feta cheese wrapped in maple rosemary walnuts from Copper Kettle.

Fido always comes to food events prepared to sweeten up the event. Radio Days cupcake is my favorite.

Red Grits (berry tapioca with créme anglaise) from Nashville’s newest upscale restaurant, The Southern Oyster and Steak.

If you could have seen this in person, Solario (Opryland Hotel) knows how to do pork.

BLT with pickles on handmade bun was a favorite. Fuse Sports Club at the Opryland Hotel.

Mirko Pasta

Butternut Squash ravioli from Mirko. One of the most flavorful dishes of the night.

Making more than the best bread in Nashville, Duck Rilettes from Provence were outstanding.

I wish there had been a program, as I’m sure I missed a few favorite restaurants. If you were there, what was your favoite?

And, if your secret ingredient was mushrooms, what would you make?

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  1. I did not attend this very worthwhile event as I was already doing the Dining Out for Life and contributing to the St. Judes’s race this weekend. I have to budget my food/donation outings and we have so many choices here in Nashville that it is sometimes very hard to choose. It looks like it was lots of fun, good attendance and looks as if you had the best time. There is always next year! Thanks for sharing all your great photos with little stories.

  2. I hate it when I am out of town and miss events like this. I’m getting hungry looking at all the pictures.

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