Iron Chef 2019
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Special to the Reading Eagle: Jeff Doelp | Mike Martino, corporate chef and director of production and food safety for Adelphia Seafood, works on his dish Sunday at the 2019 Wilson Iron Chef competition. The sixth annual event, which included a benefit auction, was held at Wilson High School.
Wilson Iron Chef competition raises thousands of dollars for district
Chefs from Adelphia Seafood and Redner’s Markets competed for the ultimate title creating dishes from four secret ingredients.
Iron Chef competitions typically have one winner, but everyone who attended the Wilson Iron Chef Competition and Benefit Auction on Sunday was a winner, according to the event’s organizer.
Attendees got to sample a variety of foods and get ideas for restaurants to try, the restaurants and vendors got valuable exposure, while the Wilson Education Foundation raised thousands of dollars for Wilson School District students.
“It’s a win-win-win,” said Molly Maack, the foundation’s executive director and the event’s main organizer.
The event drew about 1,000 attendees last year, and Maack anticipated a similar number this year. She said it usually raises between $30,000 and $35,000. Tickets were $15 in advance or $20 at the door.
“We raise funds that we are able to put back into the district with innovative programs that the teachers want to do,” Maack said. “We can partner with the school district with different activities, too, throughout the year.”
Although the Iron Chef competition gets top billing, the event is much more.
There’s a People’s Choice competition in which attendees select their favorite among eight competing restaurants; a Vendor’s Lane, where attendees sample food from two dozen area restaurants and caterers; a silent auction; and a live auction and raffles.
Special to the Reading Eagle: Jeff Doelp | Tim Twiford, left, executive chef and director of food service for Maidencreek Township-based Redner’s Markets, and his assistant work Sunday during the Wilson Iron Chef competition.
While the event has more, the Iron Chef competition is usually the highlight. It pits three area chefs against one another in a timed competition in which they must create a unique dish using three secret ingredients.
The ingredients Sunday were pork, pineapple and butternut squash. But after the chefs started, organizers surprised them with a fourth ingredient: caramel candy squares.
This year’s contestants were Mitchell Kriebel, owner and head chef at Gourmand, which has three Berks locations; Mike Martino, corporate chef and director of production and food safety for Adelphia Seafood, which has several area locations; and Tim Twiford, executive chef and director of food service for Maidencreek Township-based Redner’s Markets.
Martino won the competition last year.
“The great thing about winning is I get to come back the next year, so I try really hard to make sure that happens,” he said before Sunday’s competition. “I take a lot of pride in what I do and I enjoy it, so I was very happy to have won last year.”
Overall, Martino said, it was his fourth year attending the event. He also participated in the People’s Choice competition two times.
“It’s an amazing fundraiser,” he said. “It’s a great way to bring a lot of people out in the community. Who doesn’t love to try different foods?”
Special to the Reading Eagle: Jeff Doelp | Chris Farrell, co-owner of Sweet Ride Ice Cream in West Reading, hands out ice cream samples Sunday at the Wilson Iron Chef Competition and Benefit Auction. Sweet Ride has participated each year since the event was started, Farrell said.
Between the People’s Choice competition and the Vendor’s Lane, more than 30 business were on hand with samples.
Chris Farrell, co-owner of Sweet Ride Ice Cream in West Reading, said Sweet Ride has participated in the event all six years. In addition to raising money for the foundation, it raises the profiles of the participating businesses.
“It’s a really good marketing opportunity for us,” he said.
Kayla Yerger, manager at New York Bagelry, which has locations in West Lawn and Kenhorst, agreed.
And, like Farrell, she also likes raising money for a good cause.
“Because we’re a local business and we’re a family-owned business, we really love getting involved with the community,” Yerger said.
Bang for the buck
With the opportunity to sample food and to watch the chefs compete, Maack said it’s no secret why the event is popular.
“People think it’s a good bang for your buck,” she said. “You get to eat as much as you want. You get a tray, and you can eat at every single station.”
JoAnn and Greg Manning of Mohnton have attended the event every year since it started. Several times, they said, they’ve sampled food from a restaurant at the event and decided to later visit the restaurant for a meal.
“We love it,” JoAnn Manning said. “They do a wonderful job. The vendors do a great job, and all the restaurants.”
Lauren Minnich of Wyomissing has also attended the event all six years. She, too, has sampled food at the event and then decided to later visit the restaurant.
“Usually, every year there’s at least one or two places where I come here and have the food and I think, ‘This is really good, let me go there,’ ” she said.
Martino repeats as champion
Mike Martino, corporate chef and director of production and food safety for Adelphia Seafood, won the Iron Chef competition for the second year in a row at the Wilson Iron Chef Competition and Benefit Auction on Sunday.
He also won first place in the People’s Choice competition, beating out seven other area restaurants.
“He was on fire today,” said Molly Maack, Wilson Education Foundation’s executive director and the event’s main organizer.
For his wins, Martino will be invited to compete in the Iron Chef competition again next year.
Still Playin’ Distillery of Orwigsburg, Schuylkill County, was runner-up in the People’s Choice competition and will be invited to compete in the Iron Chef competition next year.
Contact Brad Rhen: 610-371-5047 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
2019 IRON CHEF COMPETITOR BIOS
Mike Martino of ADELPHIA SEAFOOD
Director of Production & Food Safety, R&D Mgr, Corp Chef
Sous chef will be Craig Manser from Adelphia Seafood
2018 Iron Chef Winner, 2017 & 2018 People’s Choice Runner-Up
Mike Martino is Director of Production & Food Safety, Research & Development Manager and Corporate Chef at Adelphia Seafood. He is a graduate of Wyomissing High School and the Pennsylvania Culinary School, and earned a degree in Food Science/Business Marketing at Penn State University. Martino was R&D Manager and Corporate Chef Don’s Salads & Melanie’s Medley’s, and Executive Chef at Grant Hanson Associate, Henry’s in Charleston, SC, and the Reading Country Club. Martino has won numerous awards including Wilson’s 2018 Iron Chef and 2017 People’s Choice Competitions, and Hamburg’s 2015 and 2016 Iron Chef and 2014 People’s Choice Competitions. https://www.facebook.com/AdelphiaSeafood
Mitchell Kriebel of GOURMAND
Owner & Head Chef
Sous Chef will be Ben Wissinger from Tulpehocken Farm
2018 People’s Choice Competitor
Mitchell Kriebel is Head Chef and owner of Gourmand Artisan Street Food truck, Gourmand Cafe Wyomissing, and recently; Gourmand Cafe West Reading. He is an honors graduate of the Art Institute of Pittsburgh with a degree in Industrial Design, and a twenty year veteran of the service and restaurant industry. He has taken his love of good food and with the help of his lovely wife Kristen Kriebel, developed Gourmand into a reality. You can find Gourmand at 945 Berkshire Blvd in Wyomissing, PA, 715 Penn Ave in West Reading, PA, and their food truck appears locally at big events, private parties, wineries, and breweries. www.facebook.com/gourmandpa
Tim Twiford of REDNER’S MARKET, INC.
Director of Food Service
Sous Chef will be Chef Rachid from Crowne Plaza
2016 Winner and 2015 Runner-Up People’s Choice Competition
Executive Chef Tim Twiford is Director of Food Service at Redner’s, and best known in Berks county for his unique style and enthusiasm for food. Twiford oversees the development and implementation of all prepared food services within Redner’s Warehouse Markets & Quick Shoppes, and hands on with the menu development, catering and high-volume food service production management to be used throughout Redner’s locations.
Chef Tim has been serving the Berks county community for the past 35 years; most recently as the Executive Chef at the Crowne Plaza. He is active within the Berks County community, supporting local organizations such as The Hope Rescue Mission, Olivet Boys and Girls Club, Prospectus Berco and Blankets of Hope, as well as, mentoring local culinary students. He was instrumental in the creation of Chef Tim’s table which is used to support charitable organizations though an elevated tasting experience and all proceeds donated towards community support. Twiford is a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America, he resides in Sinking Spring with his wife Christine and three children. April 11, 2018 by Redner’s Markets. www.facebook.com/RednersWarehouseMarkets/
Iron Chef 2018
The fifth annual Wilson Iron Chef competition was held on Sunday, March 11, 2018. The event pitted three of the area’s top chefs against each other in a timed competition. Chef Mike Martino, representing Adelphia Seafood, earned the victory over Chef Ben Hinkle of Ganly’s Irish Pub & Restaurant and Chef Martha Cavarretta of Giannotti’s Berkshire. Each of the chefs had to incorporate four ingredients in their plate: duck breast, lentils, bananas and movie theater popcorn.
In the People’s Choice competition, seven restaurants were competing for two spots in next year’s Iron Chef competition. All seven competitors had to incorporate apples into their featured dish. The Hitching Post earned first place with its filet Mignon crostini. Adelphia Seafood took second place with its cheddar apple bisque with crab and bacon.
Also part of the day again this year was vendor row with more than 20 vendors offering samples of their foods and products. Click here to view photos: Berks County Eats
Iron Chef 2017
The fourth annual Wilson Iron Chef competition was held on Sunday, March 26. The event pitted three of the area’s top chefs against each other in a timed competition. Chef Josh Haines of Jimmie G’s Beverly Hills Tavern earned the victory over Chef Tim Twiford of the Crowne Plaza and Chef Mike Rauenzahn of the Bernville Eagle Hotel. Each of the chefs had to incorporate four ingredients in their dish: sausage, red cabbage, Greek yogurt and cheese curls.
In the People’s Choice competition, nine restaurants were competing for two spots in next year’s Iron Chef competition. All nine competitors had to incorporate cheese into their featured dish. Don’s Food Products & Melanie’s Medley’s earned first place with its Champagne and Gouda bisque. Second place went to Ganley’s for its smoked bacon and Gorgonzola stuffed dates with spicy Jameson glaze.
Also part of the day again this year was vendor row with more than 20 vendors offering samples of their foods and products. Click here to view photos Berks County Eats
- Reading Magazine “Interview with Wilson Iron Chef Winner Joshua Haines”
- Reading Magazine “Wilson Iron Chef Behind the Scenes”
- Best Bites on BCTV
Iron Chef 2016
Jason Hook comes out on top, for the second year in a row, in the friendly competition that raises money for the Wilson Education Foundation.
WRITTEN BY BECCA Y. GREGG
WEST LAWN, PA —
It wasn’t for the faint of stomach: cauliflower and marshmallow Peeps?
But a cauliflower and Peeps puree helped chef Jason Hook of Wyomissing, owner of H20 Kitchen, nab his second consecutive win in the Wilson Iron Chef competition in the high school Sunday.
Peeps were among the secret ingredients unveiled for the third annual event, which pitted three Berks County chefs against one another for a friendly competition to raise funds for the Wilson Education Foundation.
Competing against Hook for the title of Wilson 2016 Iron Chef were David Shefter, owner of the Penn Werner Hotel in Wernersville and 2014 winner, and Joshua Haines of Jimmy G’s Beverly Hills Tavern in Spring Township. No second winner was named.
In addition to the Peeps, the chefs were required to incorporate skirt steak, avocado and pickles into their dishes, which they were given 35 minutes to execute on stage before a packed auditorium.
“On the fly, it’s just what we do,” said Hook, who was supported for the second year by his sous chef for the competition, Tim Twiford of the Crowne Plaza Reading in Wyomissing.
Twiford and his Crowne Plaza team took home first place in the People’s Choice competition in which 10 restaurants created dishes using the common ingredient of bacon. Attendees then voted for their favorites. For the win, Twiford earned a spot in the main competition next year.
Between ticket sales and a benefit auction, organizers hoped this year’s event would net upwards of $30,000 for the Wilson Education Foundation, which funds academic programs, grants, scholarships, district events and facility upgrades, among other things. A total amount raised, however, wasn’t yet available Sunday night.”We sold 950 tickets, and when you take in the vendors and everything, we probably had over 1,200 people here,” said Kristin Kramer, public information officer for the school district and executive director of the Wilson Education Foundation. “It was a great success. It’s grown every year.”
Also Sunday, Wilson unveiled the recipients of its first-ever Extraordinary Teacher of the Year awards, which were given to Whitfield Elementary kindergarten teacher Connie Aarons and Wilson High special education teacher Tannen Summons. Students, faculty, staff and community members submitted more than 400 nominations over the past few weeks for the new honor, a partnership between the foundation and Sun Federal Credit Union. As recipients, Aarons and Summons were awarded $1,000 each – $500 from the credit union and $500 from the education foundation.
Iron Chef 2015
For the Iron Chef portion of the event, the three competing chefs were set the challenge of incorporating four secret ingredients into their dishes-turkey loin, patty pan squash, quinoa, and gummy worms-revealed to them right before starting the 35-minute competition. Fresh items from the provided pantry supplemented the competitor’s culinary creations. Winning Chef Jason Hook from h20 Kitchen used the gummy worms as part of a sweet potato puree that wowed the judges and set him apart from the other competitors. Second place went to Chef David Shefter of the Penn Warner Hotel, followed by Raffaele Grande from GNA Ristorante.
Iron Chef 2014
During the inaugural Wilson Iron Chef Competition on Sunday, April, 6, 2014, the three competing chefs used the three secret ingredients — center-cut pork loin, chayote squash and half-blood oranges – revealed to them just moments before the competition along with using fresh items from a provided pantry to cook a protein and two sides in 35 minutes.
Chef David Shefter, owner and chef at Penn Werner Hotel in Wernersville, was named Wilson 2014 Iron Chef Champion for his Mexican-rub pork roast with a blood orange demi-glaze, served with an arugula, pear and goat cheese salad, and a vegetable latke made from squash, broccoli and asiago cheese.
Second place went to Chef Joseph Church, executive chef at the Peanut Bar in Reading and owner of Black Dog Café in Womelsdorf, for his pork scallopini with sautéed morel mushrooms and truffle butter, served with julienned chayota and yellow squash and a Mediterranean couscous splashed with the blood-orange juice.
Chef Felix Maeitta, managing partner at ViVA Bistro & Lounge in Wyomissing, finished third for his pan-roasted pork loin with a honey and blood-orange glaze, served with a potato, squash and chorizo sausage hash and sautéed asparagus.