Auburn has its own Iron Chef

David Bancroft, owner of Acre, competed on Food Network's Iron Chef Showdown (Source: WSFA 12 News)
David Bancroft, owner of Acre, competed on Food Network's Iron Chef Showdown (Source: WSFA 12 News)

AUBURN, AL (WSFA) - Iron and Auburn have made a pretty good combination in the last year. First the Tigers football team picked up a big Iron Bowl win over Alabama in November. Then in December, things really got cooking, when an Auburn chef got a chance to show his skills on the Food Network show Iron Chef Showdown.

"You're talking about the Super Bowl for chefs," said Acre Owner and head chef David Bancroft. "It's basically cooking in a pressure cooker and trying to get five courses out in an hour to the hardest judges imaginable."

The chance kind of came out of the blue. Bancroft says he got a call from someone on the show. They did some Skype and phone interviews and then all the sudden he got the call.

"I had the opportunity to call my wife and say, 'Hey, we're going on Iron Chef.'"

He calls it the Super Bowl for chefs and they prepared for it like a championship game.

"We extremely, extremely over prepared. We shut the restaurant down for three days."

So Bancroft and crew left for LA in July to tape the show on the Food Network. He brought some of his own LA (lower Alabama) with him.

"I wore my Wranglers, cowboy boots, tried to wear my camo hat, but they shot that down."

All that extra work paid off. Bancroft was matched up against a chef from New York in the opening round. When he won that round he got to face off against celebrity Iron Chef Jose Garces.

Bancroft showed those folks in Hollywood what we already know here in Alabama. Alabamians always come up big on the big stage. Bancroft used his Southern style and creativity to knock off the Iron Chef. The toughest part may have been keeping the results quiet for almost six months.

"I signed a $10 million non-disclosure agreement so I didn't even tell my wife. I had been sitting on that knowledge and those results for that long. Talk about anxiety!" Bancroft said.

Now it's back to business in the place he loves the most, Auburn, Alabama. It's safe to say the fame isn't getting to his head.

"I'm back to washing dishes already," said Bancroft.

And soon he'll have a new place to wash dishes. Bancroft is opening up another new restaurant in Auburn this summer called Bow and Arrow. He says it'll be a "South Texas Smokehouse meshed with an Alabama church potluck." If it's anything like Acre it'll be a big hit.

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