MC Kitchen's Dena Marino, Mignonette's Lisa Chadwick Win at Iron Fork

Dena Marino (left) wins Iron Fork's chefs' competition.
Dena Marino (left) wins Iron Fork's chefs' competition.
Photo by Laine Doss

At last evening's New Times Iron Fork at the Hyatt Regency Miami, two chefs claimed victory for their respective restaurants after waging most excellent battles, as MC Kitchen's Dena Marino and Mignonette's Lisa Chadwick reigned supreme in the evening's two battles royal.

The oyster shuckers with host Chef Allen (third from right).
The oyster shuckers with host Chef Allen (third from right).
Photo by Chris Carter

The first competition of the evening was Shuck It, which pitted five of Miami's finest oyster shuckers against one another in a fast-paced showdown. Though all of the contestants — J&G Grill's Dagan Stocks, Izzy's Fish & Oyster's Andrew Taylor, Lure Fishbar's Khaleel Ali, the Oceanaire Seafood Room's Kareem Anguin, and Mignonette's Lisa Chadwick — looked formidable, only Chadwick was overheard analyzing the oysters and her strategy.

Lisa Chadwick in action.
Lisa Chadwick in action.
Photo by Chris Carter

The game plan worked, with Chadwick taking an early lead in the race to see who could open and present a dozen oysters the fastest. In the end, she successfully shucked all the shellfish in a blazing 1 minute 36 seconds for the win

The judges.
The judges.
Photo by Laine Doss

After the shucking competition, it was on to the main event — the Fork Off, in which MC Kitchen's Dena Marino, assisted by sous-chef Victor Toro, and Finka Table & Tap's Eileen Andrade, assisted by sous-chef Lazaro Sifuentes, fought for the coveted Skillet of Excellence. Chef Allen Susser presided over the battle and explained the rules. Of course, judges Danny Serfer (Blue Collar and Mignonette), Adrianne Calvo (Chef Adrianne’s Vineyard Restaurant & Wine Bar), Jamie DeRosa (Tongue & Cheek and Izzy's Fish & Oyster), and Ralph Pagano (Naked Taco and Naked Lunch) were a little busy enjoying treats from Sugar Yummy Mama's Giselle Pinto.

Taking a selfie.
Taking a selfie.
Photo by Laine Doss

They also prepped for the judging by taking plenty of selfies.

Dena Marino and Victor Toro.
Dena Marino and Victor Toro.
Photo by Chris Carter

Once the competition began, however, all eyes were on the chefs as they each prepped two dishes for the judges. Marino consulted with  Toro on the proper strategy to woo the panel.

Eileen Andrade
Eileen Andrade
Photo by Chris Carter

Andrade chose the perfect farm-fresh produce for her dish from the well-stocked Iron Fork pantry.

Dena Marino
Dena Marino
Photo by Chris Carter

Marino plates her dish, "angry shrimp" cooked in bacon fat (the mystery ingredient courtesy of Miami Smokers), with caviar for a pop. 

Judge Adrianne Calvo
Judge Adrianne Calvo
Photo by Chris Carter

Chef Adrianne Calvo must have loved it because she exclaimed that she couldn't stop eating it, although she knew plenty more plates would come her way. 

Eileen Andrade
Eileen Andrade
Photo by Chris Carter

Andrade's duck breast was a favorite with judge Ralph Pagano, who said he's a sucker for duck — "and that's good duck!"

Jamie DeRosa
Jamie DeRosa
Photo by Chris Carter

After much deliberation by the judges, a winner was finally announced.

Dena Marino wins!
Dena Marino wins!
Photo by Chris Carter

Marino was named Iron Fork 2015 champion, taking home the Skillet of Excellence.

It's all good!
It's all good!
Photo by Chris Carter

Even with the fiery competition, the chefs hugged it out onstage afterward, knowing they each did an excellent job.

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