Competition sizzles at Food Lovers' Field Days

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By Adam Brazeau 
CORNWALL, Ontario - Mouthwatering aromas full of flavour and spice wafted out from the Iron Pan competition at Upper Canada Village (UCV) on Saturday, August 16.

Inside a large tent on the village's fairgrounds field, four top chefs from restaurants in Cornwall, Kingston, Ottawa and Winchester raced the clock to create a delicious plate for an expert panel of judges, using mystery ingredients.

Chef supremo Ahmad Mansori, from Table 21 and Truffles Burger Bar in the city's downtown core, proved he can stand the heat - in and out of the kitchen.

Mansori's succulent pork chop topped with fig sauce and herbs wowed the judges. But executive chef John Leung from Ottawa’s Steak Modern: Steak & Sushi located in the Byward Market took the top spot.

Already, Mansori is looking to flex his strength as a culinary expert at the next Iron Pan.

Throughout the competition, even when things really heated up, he never lost his cool.

"I was nervous in the beginning, but after a bit I blocked out everything and started to focus," said Mansori.

When Mansori started the competition, his restaurant's co-owner Dominique Gilgen shouted out helpful prep tips over the crowd's hungry-eyed chorus of praises like "it smells amazing in here!"

The duo have been responsible for some of the city's finest dining, not only with Table 21 but also with Eight Zero Zero, the restaurant they previously operated together on Cumberland street.

For Mansori, the trickiest part of the competiton was being surrounded by a crowd of 150 spectators and numerous photographers.

"It's a little less hectic in my kitchen," he joked.

After the smoke cleared from the iron cast cookware, Mansori still relished the opportunity to show off his cooking.

"It was a pleasure working with the other chefs and judges," he said, "I would love to do this again."

The second annual UCV Food Lovers' Field Days festival, which hosted the Iron Pan competition, mixed effortlessly with the village's historic charm.

Cornwall's Schnitzels European Flavours served their signature Heritage Wheel pizza in the yard of Cook's Tavern.

The popular eaterie fired up the village's 19th century beehive oven for the first time in 40 years when the event started in 2013.

The pizza was made with heirloom ingredients, village flour and cheese, and Schnitzels house-made smoked cheddar.

Check out our slideshow to see other festival highlights. Click here to read our previous coverage.

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