Alabama Seafood chefs are part of our local communities. You see them all the time at their restaurants, at local events, even picking out fresh product at local markets.
Every now and then, though, they sneak into the national spotlight.
Later this month, it’ll be Chef David Bancroft’s time to shine as he competes on Food Network’s “Iron Chef Showdown” on December 27 at 8pm.
While Bancroft’s episode airs just before the end of the year, his big television moment was many months in the making. Bancroft, who is the executive chef and owner of Acre in Auburn, was contacted by Food Network earlier in the year and put through a series of interviews before the official invitation was extended. His episode, titled “Battle Meaty Matchup”, was filmed in July.
But Bancroft’s training started many years ago—if you count intently watching episodes of “Iron Chef” and taking notes, that is.
“While courting my wife during college, I would make dinner at her house and make her sit and watch ‘Iron Chef’ with me,” said Bancroft. “Since TiVo didn’t exist, I had to sit by the TV with a notepad and a pen and take notes. The chance to compete on that show was #1 on my ‘chef goal’ list.”
Years later, Bancroft’s dreams came full circle when he told his wife, Christin, that he’d been chosen to compete on the show.
“My wife screamed through the phone when I called to tell her that I made it onto the show,” Bancroft said. “I don’t know what was more special, that I made it on the show or hearing Christin’s excitement!”
Bancroft did a bit of hands-on preparation for the competition as well.
Before flying to California to film his episode, Bancroft closed Acre for several days and trained with his “super team,” composed of chefs Adam Evans and Caleb Fischer. Training included every simulation they could think of to improve timing and communication before the event.
“We played Alton Brown’s voice on the stereo, and our GM, Blake Field, walked around reporting and asking us questions,” Bancroft said. “Blake was annoyingly good at it.”
As far as what to expect from Bancroft’s “Battle Meaty Matchup”, in which Bancroft competes with New York chef Roxanne Spruance for a chance to take on Iron Chef Jose Garces, you’ll just have to tune in to see. (Fingers crossed that there’ll be some Alabama Gulf Seafood on display.)
Bancroft’s “Iron Chef Showdown” episode will be the grand finale of a big year for the Auburn chef, but 2018 is set to be a big year for him too. After participating in the 4th annual Alabama Oyster Social in January, he’ll be working on a new restaurant concept called Bow & Arrow.
Wherever you’re spending your holiday season, make sure you tune in and set your DVRs to watch one of Alabama’s own on the national stage. Best of luck, Chef!