Tucson Culinary Festival happens this weekend October 28-31. The 4-day event culminates on Sunday, October 31, with a barbecue; food sampling, two throw downs among four popular restaurants, and the Copper Chef Challenge at Loews Ventana Resort.  This year the barbecue event is a very reasonably priced $25 ($10 for children).

It promises delicious food in one of Tucson’s most stunning settings while watching an intense hour of talented chefs sweat it out over dueling grills in order to flaunt the coveted title of Tucson’s Copper Chef.

The Copper Chef Challenge pits two of Tucson’s finest chefs against each other much like the Iron Chef on the Food Network.

This year the past two-time winner Jim Murphy (Murf) owner of Kingfisher Bar & Grill and Bluefin Restaurant challenges Addam Buzzalini, executive chef of Maynards Market & Kitchen. Newcomer Buzzalini also worked as chef at Janos and JaxKitchen prior to Maynards. According to Buzzalini, he’s spent about 15 years in the kitchen and 8 years with title as chef.

So, let’s put this in perspective. Is it the older chef vs. the younger chef or the classic chef vs. the high tech chef?

Both chefs have a loyal following. And some of us love both Kingfisher and Maynards.

You really don’t want to miss this competition between the chef who memorializes a wooden spoon and the chef who idolizes an emulsion circulator.

Trivia: Jim Murphy beat Jonathan Landeen of Jonathan Cork. During that Copper Chef competition, Addam Buzzalini was the sous chef. Murphy also beat Jeff Fuld of Elle Wine Bistro.

I chatted with these two amazing chefs and here’s what they had to say:

KZ:  How confident do you feel about beating your opponent?

JM:  I’m confident I’m a good cook. I’m handy on a grill and looking forward to the challenge.  Some kind of meat will be used. I don’t know what the special ingredients will be but we’ll be cooking on an open grill with some kind of heat source.

AB:  Very confident

KZ:  What advantages do you have over your opponent?

JM:  I’ve done this competition before.  I know you cannot second guess yourself. It’s an intense hour of cooking. You have to stick to your original recipe and stay true to your original thought.

AB:  Sous chefs Brandon Cathey and Ryan Sullivan

KZ: What would be your three dream ingredients?

JM: Fresh and dried chiles, tomatoes, corn, and one or two cervezas for drinking.

AB:  Foie gras, any kind of pork product, and black truffles

KZ: What’s your favorite tool in the kitchen and why?

JM:  A wooden spoon. I use it for everything. It’s not hard like steel. It feels good in the hand and is reassuring like an old friend. Some stains on the spoon give it a story or some history.

AB:  An emersion circulator for sous-vide cooking; it’s an innovative technique that cooks stellar meats and vegetables.

KZ: Is there anything you would like your fans to know?

JM:  The Copper Chef Challenge is difficult but tremendously rewarding. Just finishing is a feat in itself. Just like in a restaurant you have so much time to please a guest.  The plate has to be hot, the food hot, and the presentation executed well.  The last 40 seconds are crucial. You have to be done when the time is up, hands away. The whole thing is intriguing.

AB:  The other side better be on their A game.

As you’re enjoying the barbecue, the chefs will be competing. Dan Marries from KOLD-TV will be the commentator and five judges will make the final decision as to who is Tucson’s next Copper Chef.

Don’t miss the fun — order your tickets now!


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