Smithsonian’s own Chef Richard Hetzler, the executive chef for the museum’s Mitsitam Café, does battle on his home turf once again. He stands undefeated at 1-0, after carving out a victory at last year’s event over L’Academie de Cuisine instructor Brian Patterson. The good-natured Hetzler likes to push the envelope, and is “not afraid to take risks and do some fun stuff with molecular gastronomy.” Whether that will be possible in the heat of the amphitheater kitchen remains to be seen.
His opponent, Chef Don McClellan (Cherokee), who will be competing for the first time, hails from Albuquerque, New Mexico, and what he lacks in battle experience, he makes up for in confidence. “I believe that I will win, yes,” he states. The executive chef at Atria Vista del Rio, McClellan prefers to keep his preparations simple and flavorful, and his southwestern style should mesh well with the battle’s not-so-secret ingredients.