Local man wins IPE Iron Chef competition

Tyler Leeson, executive chef at Halcyon Hot Springs, was this year's IPE Iron Chef winner

Tyler Leeson, Executive Chef at Halcyon Hot Springs Village and Spa, has won the Armstrong Interior Provincial Exhibition (IPE) Iron Chef Competition that took place Sept. 2-6.

Leeson was asked to participate last year, but because the request came on such short notice, he wasn’t able to compete. He was called again this year, and was given a month’s notice. He entered with friend and fellow chef, Josh Hines of Kelowna.

“It’s not the same one that you would see on the Food Network. It’s not quite as big, but still a lot of fun,” Leeson said.

Ten teams competed throughout the week, two per day for five days.

“It’s a 100 mile competition, and they give you a list of ingredients and you have half an hour to come up with your first course and then ten minutes for each of your next courses,”he said. “It’s a total of four courses in an hour. You have to use one ingredient in everything, and then there’s three or four other ingredients that you have to use somewhere in your meal. They’re all regional.”

He said as far as ingredients go, this competition was fairly simple.

“I’ve had competitions where you had to pair salmon with veal liver together somehow, and then you get the kidneys and hearts. Offal meats are tricky, especially in that short period of time. Most of them take a long time to prepare.”

Time is a constraint. While an hour might seem like a lot of time to prepare a meal, with four courses to make, it can be stressful, and going over can cost you.

“I’ve struggled in other competitions,” Leeson said. “I’ve always gone over by 30 seconds, or a minute, and I’ve lost more than one because of it. This time, we didn’t go over, and I think we won by .125 per cent.”

One thing about the competition Leeson enjoyed was the camaraderie.

“You get to meet lots of cool people, and the people that are fun to compete against are really good about it. There’s no poor sportsmanship, everyone helps each other out,” he said. “If they need something that we have, we just give it to them, and if they have something that we need, we can ask for it. It give you an idea of where you stand in the grand scheme of things. Sometimes, living in a small town like Nakusp, you can do well here, but does that mean you’re actually good, or just good here? That kind of thing. It’s nice to kind of get out there and compete against some of the top winning chefs in B.C.”