Bayfield High School graduate to make ‘Iron Chef’ debut – The Journal

Ben Chenoweth will appear on Netflix on Wednesday

When Ben Chenoweth was in third grade, he made peanut butter toast for his friends and family.

Not just ordinary peanut butter toast, but Ben’s famous peanut butter toast.

A layer of brown sugar on top melted into the creation, creating a gooey delicacy that tasted like a peanut butter cookie.

Bayfield High School graduate Ben Chenoweth will make his debut in “Iron Chef: Quest for an Iron Legend,” which premieres Wednesday on Netflix. (Courtesy of Ben Chenoweth)

He went on to take home economics at Bayfield High School, then worked in the kitchens of Giuseppe’s, a now closed Italian restaurant across from BHS, as well as Steamworks Brewing Co.

On Wednesday, he will make his debut in “Iron Chef,” working with his boss, celebrity chef Ming Tsai.

“It was a lot of fun,” he said in a phone interview from Big Sky, Montana, where he’s executive chef of the Yellowstone Club, an exclusive resort for those who love golf and skiing. “If you’re not having fun, you’re doing something wrong.”

“Iron Chef” was a Japanese cooking show that was transplanted to the United States, where it appeared on the Food Network.

The show is now on Netflix and “Iron Chef: Quest for an Iron Legend” will appear on Wednesday. A feature of the show is a secret ingredient that celebrity chefs and their sous chefs prepare, then their creations are judged by celebrities and other chefs.

In the show’s official trailer, Chenoweth carries a live sturgeon out of a water-filled tank. The other contestant drops his sturgeon on the floor, while he carries his slippery fish to the kitchen for preparation.

“It was just a great opportunity,” Chenoweth said of the opportunity to appear on “Iron Chef” with Tsai. “It’s a culinary challenge with the best chefs in the country, the biggest names in the industry.”

The other secret ingredient he and Tsai had to use was chocolate.

Chenoweth and his family moved from California to Bayfield when he was young. After graduating from BHS, he attended the Western Culinary Institute in Portland, Oregon, before working in restaurants in Oregon, Washington and California before beginning his six-year stint at the Yellowstone Club.

“Ben was always the nicest guy to everyone,” said Nick Hansen, a classmate from Chenoweth who grew up in Bayfield and now lives in Seattle. “He had his own outlook on life, that’s probably where he got the creativity to become a world-class chef.”

Chenoweth said he sees himself as a modern American chef who uses seasonal, regional dishes whenever possible. In California, it’s a lot of seafood; in Montana, it’s beef and bison.

He said he enjoyed the hospitality of his profession and being able to take care of his customers.

He is the son of Eva and Mike McKenzie. His mother remembers that he was always interested in cooking and would sit on the counter as a baby while she cooked in the kitchen.

“Ben loved cooking at such a young age, it was amazing,” his mother said. “He even cut up a cucumber and put ranch dressing on it in third grade.

“We couldn’t be more proud of him,” she said.

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