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Iron Fork is right around the corner

Iron Fork
Iron Fork
Photo by Miles Willis

Miami New Times’ Iron Fork is Miami's most hotly anticipated culinary event. This year, on July 31st, we up the ante by partnering with the Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau to kick off two months of discounted three-course meals at Miami's best restaurants during Miami Spice. Planned for the beautiful Hyatt Regency in Downtown Miami, the 2014 Iron Fork will draw thousands of diners and food lovers from across Greater Miami. They'll watch two of our city's finest chefs go pot-to-pot in a sizzling showdown for supremacy overseen by famed "Mango Gang" veteran Allen Susser. Each competitor will receive a basket of foodstuffs — plus one secret ingredient — then create a tantalizing creation before a panel of local celebrity chefs hand selected by Chef Allen. The winner will receive the prestigious Iron Fork Award, signifying the area's top toque.

Here's a little about the host, chefs and judges:

Allen Susser — Iron Fork Chef Competition Host

A James Beard award winning chef, Allen Susser's new world cuisine, which takes influences from Caribbean, Latin America and modern American cooking styles, helped shape Miami's culinary scene. Susser, who has been called "the Ponce de Leon of New Floridian cooking" by the New York Times, has also authored several books, has his own line of sauces and marinades, and is involved with Burger Bar by Chef Allen and The Daily Melt. Susser also consults on many projects, helping Ben & Jerry's develop a line of tropical flavors and Kraft work on new salad dressing profiles. Susser is also involved with many chartities, including March of Dimes and Share Our Strength.

Aaron Brooks — Competing Chef from EDGE Steak & Bar

In September 2011, Aaron Brooks joined Four Seasons Hotel Miami as Executive Chef. As opening chef of the hotel's statement restaurant, EDGE, Steak & Bar, Chef Brooks showcases a modern take on the traditional steakhouse.

"Aaron is passionate about his profession," said Dan Normandin, General Manager of Four Seasons Hotel Miami. "He's the driving force behind EDGE's place as a premier food and beverage operation in South Florida and Four Seasons Hotels."

A native Australian, Brooks’ nine-year journey around Four Seasons kitchens from Vancouver to Boston has orbited around cultures and cuisines, from Pan-Asian to New England.

At Edge, he finds culinary inspiration in the Latin influence with its bright and fresh flavors from tartares spiked with Peruvian aji Amarillo to citrusy ceviches and earthy chorizo croquetas. His focus is on farm-to-table prime products, all-natural ingredients and perfect techniques. "Our menu is healthy and approachable. We want our guests to feel satisfied without being overwhelmed," says Brooks of the driving culinary philosophy.

Since joining Four Seasons Miami, Chef Brooks has performed in renowned forums, including the prestigious James Beard House, Food & Wine Classic in Aspen and South Beach Wine and Food Festival. A local feat, he beat out five of Miami's top culinary masterminds to win Prince of Porc in the Miami regional Cochon555. Additional accolades include being named the only culinary professional in Brickell Magazine's 2013 "Top 20 Under 40" list as well as one of Miami New Times’ top Tastemakers who have helped shape the Miami food scene into what it is today.

When he's not in the kitchen, you'll find Brooks sourcing local ingredients, checking on his vegetable and herb garden on the restaurant's 7th floor terrace or cooking at home with his family.

Todd Erickson — Competing Chef from HaVen

Todd Erickson, Executive Chef of Huahua's Taqueria and Haven South Beach is a critically acclaimed culinary professional with more than 10 years of experience garnered at esteemed restaurants around the United States. Erickson's approach reflects his passion for travel and regional cuisines, and has earned him a following with respected critics and food novices alike. His unique perspective and creative flair displayed in each dish made him the natural choice to spearhead HaVen Hospitality Concepts’ successful and innovative restaurants.

Hailing from Scottsdale, Arizona, Todd Erickson's passion for the culinary arts developed as a young child while cooking with his mother in their home kitchen. His fascination with the senses that are utilized in the preparation of each meal led Erickson to pursue a career in culinary arts. In 1997, Erickson enrolled at the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York.

Upon his graduation in 2001, Erickson moved to Dallas, Texas, as the newly appointed Executive Chef of Hector's on Henderson. With Erickson at the helm, the Southern-living inspired restaurant was named "Best New Restaurant 2004" by Dallas Morning News and "Top Ten Best New Restaurants of 2004" by Texas Monthly magazine. In 2006, he was offered the position of Executive Chef consultant for Tryst, an American bar and grill. He worked at Tryst for a year before opening his own catering company in 2007. During his time in Texas, he received several accolades, which include recognition from the Dallas Observer as the "Best Chef Under 30" and a "Number One Young Gun Chef" endorsement by D Magazine.

In the spring of 2011, Erickson settled in Miami as Executive Sous Chef at Zuma. In October of 2011, he partnered with hospitality and design entrepreneur Mike Boles and financial business expert Niloy Thakkar to realize the team's vision for Haven South Beach. Using his passion for locally inspired and fresh dishes, he created a global small plates menu that features fresh salads, sliders, skewers, sushi rolls and liquid nitrogen ice cream. In 2013, Erickson once again teamed up with HHC to head the kitchen at Huahua's Taqueria. Displaying his love for playful and inventive dishes, he created a menu that features an array of tacos, enchiladas and sweets inspired by South of the Border fare while reflecting his own culinary flare.

Jamie DeRosa — Judge & 2013 Iron Fork Competing Chef

After discovering a love of cooking as a child, Jamie DeRosa attended Johnson & Wales University before embarking on a career that would have him work with some of the best names in the culinary world, including Wolfgang Puck, helming Puck's Orlando restaurant and opening operations in Toronto, Las Vegas, and South Florida. DeRosa then joined up with Mark Peel at Campanile, then worked at Michelin Starred Patina restaurant with master chef Joachim Spilchal. DeRosa also served a three-month apprenticeship at The Fat Duck, which was named "Best Restaurant in the World" in 2005 by Britain's Restaurant magazine. In 2009, DeRosa returned to south Florida to open Taste Gastropub in Delray Beach alongside Allen Susser. Most recently, he served as executive chef at Tudor House, owned by celebrity chef, Geoffrey Zakarian before opening Tongue & Cheek restaurant in South Beach, where he is chef/partner.

Timon Ballo — Judge & 2011 Iron Fork Chef Competition Winner

Born to Chinese and Trinidadian parents, Timon Balloo's scrapbook of memories leads with days on the farm, ethnic recipes and a favorite pastime of watching not-so-traditional childhood television – PBS’ Yan Can Cook.

Balloo graduate from Johnson & Wales University, and has since been recognized as a Distinguished Visiting Chef as well as a repeat recipient of the University's culinary Zest awards. However, his first real lesson in the kitchen was a class on humility, taught by "Professor" Allen Susser.

"In Susser's kitchen, you were broken down and then built back up," Balloo explains. "My time cooking at Chef Allen's gave me a new respect for food."

In 2009, Balloo opened Samba Brand Management's first new-concept-restaurant outside of their popular SUSHI SAMBA brand, SUGARCANE raw bar grill.

Opening to much fanfare and still growing in popularity, SUGARCANE captures the essence of kicking back and eating well. This neighborhood gem has received numerous awards, most notable a nomination for "Best New Restaurant" by the James Beard Foundation. Equally accomplished is the man "behind the line," Balloo, who has cooked his way to the top; recognized as "Chef of the Year" (Miami) by Eater and nominated for "The People's Best New Chef" by Food & Wine.

Adrienne Calvo — Judge & 2009 Iron Fork Judge

Filled with the love for food at a young age, Adrianne focused her efforts on her one true aspiration, gourmet cuisine. At age 30, Adrianne has enjoyed an incredible number of accolades during her remarkable journey in becoming a recognized chef. Coining the catch phrase, "Maximum Flavor", Adrianne has managed to exceed to the "maximum" degree. From graduating top of her class at Johnson & Wales University, to now owning and operating her own restaurant, Chef Adrianne's Vineyard Restaurant and Wine bar, Adrianne has influenced the culinary community as well as the way people experience fine dining. Most recently, Chef Adrianne Calvo's restaurant and wine bar was featured in the Miami New Times’ Best of Miami as having a "cozy, rustic charm."

Incorporating many unique traits to her menu, The Napa Valley inspired restaurant offers a wide selection of her one of a kind "Maximum Flavor" infused dishes. Combined with her menu, she offers "Dark Dining", which gives the diners an opportunity to experience food like no other by stimulating their senses through suppressing one of them. Along with being chef/owner of her restaurant, Adrianne has written two cookbooks, Maximum Flavor and Driven by Flavor Fueled by Fire.

Adrianne keeps herself very busy with different activities besides the daily operation of her restaurant. She is featured every Thursday morning on her very own Maximum Flavor TV segment on NBC6's Six in the Mix. Through this show, she has been able to share with her viewers the savory and exotic recipes she has rapidly become known for as a culinary artist. Through her many TV appearances she has also been able to explore new recipes and perfect her culinary techniques on live television; a challenge she took on with great enthusiasm resulting in an incredibly positive response from her audience. After signing a multi-year endorsement deal in 2009 with Panda Kitchen and Bath, a Miami, Florida-based leader in the kitchen and bath remodeling market, Adrianne manages to juggle her already busy schedule making herself available for numerous appearances as the company's spokesperson. In addition to her many activities.

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