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Jul 14, 2012 12:08 AM

Meet Tucson's 'Iron Chef'

TUCSON - A local chef has earned a big title, as Tucson's Iron Chef.

It's a culinary competition that not only carries bragging rights, it means tasty cuisine we as locals get to devour.

News 4 Tucson's Rebecca Taylor visited Lodge on the Desert to show us what being an Iron Chef is all about.

Just like the national TV show, local chefs are timed in a cooking battle, built around a secret theme ingredient.

Judges sample their dishes, and crown a winner. Chef Ryan Clark has won the cook-off two years in a row.

During the dinner rush he's cool under pressure.

Don't let the baby face fool you, Ryan Clark has some serious credentials.

"I went to school at the Culinary Institute of America, so it's in Hyde Park, New York," Clark says while whipping up some fresh salsa, "So got these portobellos all cut up, I'm going to throw them in a cast iron pan, fire them up."

As Taylor enjoys a taste of the salsa, Clark describes where his love of cooking came from.

"I grew up cooking with my mom. Fresh pasta, and perogies. My dad makes a lot of perogies," Clark said.

After New York, he returned to Arizona working under an Iron Chef America winner at a top resort near Scottsdale, often cooking for celebrities.

Now in Tucson, his hometown, Clark himself is a celebrity, one of the areas most decorated competition chefs.

Chef Maverick Clark describes what makes his cousin a good Iron Chef, "I mean probably his dedication to food, his motivation to put the best product out there."

Diners seem to agree. Sarah Boroson says, "Well, the presentation is really beautiful." Telling Taylor she'd order the salmon again.

Known for preparing new American cuisine, Clark jumped outside his usual menu to defend his Iron Chef title. Taking that chance paid off.

"We do a lot of Southwestern fair here. Our competitor he does a lot of Asian. So we decided to go Asian and go head on. We did a good job," Clark said.

If you'd like to taste what earned Clark the title of Iron Chef, he has planned Sea Bass dinner specials inspired by his Iron Chef battle. They're on the menu Friday and Saturday nights in July at the Lodge on the Desert.

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