Pretty non-controversial feeling: Here in Nashville — and across the rest of the country — we love a cooking competition.
Between 2005 and 2014, the number of cooking competition shows on the Food Network alone increased eight-fold, and since 2010, almost all of the network’s most-watched primetime shows have been competitions. So, yeah. Love.
And yet, for those of us watching these cooking competition shows, the food itself ends up being left to our imagination (and trusting the opinions of celeb judges like Nashville restauranteur/longtime Chopped player Maneet Chauhan, who get to actually grab a fork). It’s like loving hockey but never getting to be present at a Predators game.
Then there’s the Nashville Scene’s Iron Fork.
One day a year, Nashville food lovers get to really dig into the food-competition experience, by buying tickets to the annual Iron Fork event, at which a handful of local chefs tackle a single secret ingredient, and complete competitive plates for a panel of judges.
In the end, one Nashville chef takes home the vaunted Iron Fork, and enjoys forever bragging rights. But during the event, ticket-holders get a feast for all the senses — watching chefs juggle a collection of pantry staples and the secret ingredient (in the past, it’s ranged from everyday eggs to more unexpected fiddlehead ferns), sampling bites from a bunch of local participating restaurants, grabbing cocktails, beer and wine and, maybe, actually tasting the contest entries — a plate from each chef is auctioned off every year for charity.
The 2019 Iron Fork competitors
Each year, the Iron Fork lineup is plucked from the kitchens of some of Nashville’s favorite restaurants — past contenders have included Hal Holden-Bache of East Nashville’s Lockeland Table, Julia Sullivan of Henrietta Red and Jessica Benefield of Two Ten Jack, among many others.
The 2019 Iron Fork competition is set for Thursday, March 21, at the Musicians Hall of Fame in Downtown Nashville, and as with past years, the culinary talent pool is as impressive as ever.
On the schedule for Iron Fork 2019: John Lasater of Hattie B’s Hot Chicken, Jake Howell of East Nashville’s Peninsula, Brian Riggenbach from Chauhan-associated spot The Mockingbird near The Gulch, and Rahaf Amer of Walden and in-the-works Green Hills restaurant Santo.
Among the other Nashville restaurants who’ll be taking part, and sharing bites for attendees: East Nashville’s Nomzilla! Sushi Et Cetera and GReKo Greek Street Food; Downtown and Midtown Nashville’s UP, a rooftop lounge and Saltine; Edgehill’s Taco Mamacita Nashville; and lots of others, for a total of 20 local food providers.
Get your Iron Fork 2019 tickets
All that excitement and eating: $35, with the early-bird Iron Fork ticket sales going on now. Attendees need to be 21 and up, and the event will run from 6 to 9:30 that night.
Ready to watch the chefs compete/take a tasting tour of Nashville? Get your Iron Fork 2019 tickets here.
Prefer to watch culinary competitors battle from the comfort of your couch, but need a new Nashville home to put that couch in? We’d be glad to help. Take a look at some Nashville homes for sale, and contact ACRE if you’d like to get your Nashville househunting process started.