Rocket Chef culinary competition returns to Merrimack Hall on August 10th

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) – Rocket Chef is returning to Huntsville this August. The event features four talented chefs, cooking under time restraints, using mystery ingredients. This unique fundraiser benefits the Food Bank of North Alabama and Merrimack Hall’s Johnny Stallings Arts Program. WHNT NEWS 19 introduces you to this year’s competitors.

Chef Steven Bunner from 1892 East is a Huntsville native and says he will enjoy cooking on stage at Merrimack Hall.

“I’m not a very shy person,” says Bunner. “So, I don’t think I’m going to have a problem getting out there and embracing that there’s an audience.”

When it comes to winning over the crowd and his competitors, Chef Chris McDonald from The Bottle has a strategy.

“I think you have to keep it kind of simple and have a minimalistic approach to a lot of things,” describes McDonald. “I let the foods speak for themselves, cook `em the right way, and handle them a little differently depending on the season.”

Each chef will have to come up with a plan quickly, since they’ll be timed and given mystery ingredients. Chef Steven Polowy from Grille 29 doesn’t see that as a problem, but an opportunity.

“It’s really experience in dealing with different ingredients, cooking techniques, time restraints,” explains Polowy. “You do the best you can with what you’ve got to work with.”

At Phil Sandoval’s Mexican Restaurante, working under pressure is the norm for Chef Phil Sandoval. He’s ready for this new challenge.

“I’ll just represent as Phil Sandoval,” he says. “I don’t know where to start or what to expect. I’ve never done this before. As far as competing , it’s probably going to be a lot of sweat out there and me just trying to do my best.”

The chefs will compete and be judged in three rounds – appetizer, entrĂ©e and dessert. However, there can only be one winner. Tickets are on sale now through the Merrimack Hall box office. You can buy tickets online or by calling (256) 534-6455.