Chefs Under Fire Is Taking a Road Trip, Burning Rubber, Not Food (Hopefully)

"Time's up! Put down your knives and walk away. Just walk away." That's what Chefs Under Fire's organizer Keeper Collection, LLC, wants chefs in Dallas (and three other locations) to hear on September 12, when the second annual competition rolls into town. Last year's event, held in Austin, was a one-night affair in which nine finalists prepared one dish side by side in the same kitchen.

The competition is basically an "Iron Chef Longhorn Edition," pitting culinary professionals against one another in a battle royal, all for the love of Texas.

"We believe that Texas is full of culinary talent, and we can help to create Texas as a culinary destination. Chefs Under Fire will offer the chance for restaurants [and other culinary establishments] to put their names on the map across Texas by entering their chefs to compete," says Diane Dixon, president of Keeper Collection. "We hope to educate people throughout the competitions on the culinary resources available in Texas [such as farmers markets] as well as on the ingredients themselves."

The Chefs Under Fire 2010 edition breaks down like this: Gastronomical pugilists will prepare four servings of the same dish during a set time limit. All ingredients will be seasonal and will be announced and provided at each event. The food will be judged on taste (50 percent), presentation (25 percent) and originality (25 percent). Allez cuisine, indeed.

Regional entry forms are due by August 2, but that won't secure a chef's spot in the competition. Visitors to the Chefs Under Fire 2010 website will be able to vote on the list of chefs from August 16-30, determining which applicants get to compete in the regionals. The lucky few who get a tip of the toque will have their dishes adjudicated by a panel of local chefs, among them Monica Pope of t'afia in Houston and Top Chef Masters and Josh Watkins of The Carillon in Austin.

Each preliminary contest's champion will face off at the final round on October 25. There, they will be judged by former Iron Chef America challengers David Bull of Bolla at Stoneleigh Hotel & Spa in Dallas, Tyson Cole of Uchi and Uchiko in Austin and Kent Rathbun of myriad eateries in the Dallas area, among them Abacus and Rathbun's Blue Plate Kitchen.

(Did you notice two of the judges have at least one restaurant in Dallas? Could we be giving Austin a run for its money?)

Lest you think Chefs Under Fire 2010 is some self-serving game, the public will be able to sample the presented food, vote for a fan favorite and a have chance to walk away with primo swag. Dixon says a crowd of 300 is expected at the Austin final. For those unable to attend, the competition will be streamed live online.

The kitchen timer is ticking. Visit www.chefsunderfire2010.com for more information.

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