Appearing on Guy Fieri’s Food Network show a dream for chef at Hempfield’s IronRock Tap House – TribLIVE

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Arnold Ivey’s decades-long dream of competing on a culinary television show will come to fruition this week when Guy’s Grocery Games airs on Food Network.

The 42-year-old executive chef at IronRock Tap House in Hempfield will appear alongside two other chefs on Wednesday’s episode “ABC Mania,” considered one of the hardest challenges in the show’s 28 seasons. The trio was required to use only 26 ingredients, one for each letter of the alphabet, over the course of two rounds.

“It was probably the hardest thing I’ve done in my career completely just because of not only thinking of the food you have to come up with making, but the whole time I’m thinking of the alphabet, too,” Ivey said. “It was just like those really don’t collide that easy in your brain, so you’re running around and trying to remember different letters of the alphabet.”

In the first round, the chefs were required to make a chicken dinner using 13 ingredients, each one starting with a different letter from A to M. In the second round, the remaining two chefs created a seafood dish using 13 ingredients with the letters N to Z. The chef with the highest score had a chance to win $20,000.

Ivey, of Adamsburg, became involved in the show after being contacted by one of its talent scouts last year. After he said he was interested, Ivey submitted an online application that was followed by a Skype interview with a producer. Another group of producers then filtered through the applicants and made a final decision.

The covid pandemic delayed the process. But in June, Ivey was flown out to Sonoma County, Calif., to begin filming.

“It took awhile for me to actually get on the show and then knowing they get thousands of applicants a day that they go through and on my episode there’s three of us,” Ivey said. “Out of thousands of applicants, they chose three.”

Filming Guy’s Grocery Games

After taking several covid tests as a precaution, Ivey was permitted on set.

Guy’s Grocery Games is hosted by celebrity-chef Guy Fieri. The show features a 24,000-square-foot set with a fully functioning grocery store filled with 100,000 items. Throughout the show, contestants are given 30 minutes to shop in the store and create a meal based on the parameters for the episode. A panel of judges then determine the winners of each round.

“I was so nervous I couldn’t sit down,” Ivey said.

Growing up in Rockford, Ill., Ivey always had an interest in cooking and experimenting with different meals, he said.

At 17, he moved to Indiana where he studied cooking at a vo-tech school. He later returned to the school to complete their advanced program.

After graduating, he began his career as a chef at Ground Round in Illinois before moving to Outback Steakhouse. After mastering the different kitchen stations, Ivey used his free time to learn how to tend bar to help him become well-rounded within the restaurant industry.

From there, Ivey decided to attend Indiana University of Pennsylvania’s culinary school. He graduated in 2001 and moved to Florida, where he worked at the Ocean Reef Club in Key Largo. During his time in Florida, Ivey worked under a Michelin star chef from France and used his free time to learn how to make sushi.

Ivey then began working in key roles to guide the opening of several restaurants, including IronRock. He noted that IronRock was the eighth restaurant he helped open.

Throughout the time he was building his career, Ivey knew it was a goal to appear on a culinary television show.

“I knew at some point my goal was to try to become famous somehow with my craft and what I do,” he said. “I don’t just want to work it away in the kitchens and stuff. I just kind of want to be known a little bit more than that. I see that as a form of immortality, nonetheless. Kind of leaving your mark where people remember you even after you’re gone for years and years.”

At the start of his career, Ivey auditioned for Hell’s Kitchen, hosted by Gordon Ramsey. The show airs on Fox. Despite auditioning twice, however, Ivey was not selected.

“I’m glad that finally I got an opportunity that just kind of sprang up to kind of still do what I was wanting to for years and years,” Ivey said of Guy’s Grocery Games.

Looking forward, Ivey, who also runs the spice company Chef Arnold’s Insanely Craveable Enzymes, said he would not be opposed to returning to the television screen.

“I definitely want to do more of that because it was a very fun experience that I wasn’t sure I was going to like but then after doing it was like absolutely amazing,” he said. “I wouldn’t mind doing even a different kind of show or something.”

Guy’s Grocery Games will air Wednesday at 9 p.m.

Megan Tomasic is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Megan at 724-850-1203, [email protected] or via Twitter .

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