Iowa City MasterChef to host public dinner this Saturday

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MasterChef Matt and Cesar Tasting Event

Kirkwood Culinary Kitchen at NewBo City Market — Saturday, July 21 at 5 p.m.

Iowa City-based optometrist and MasterChef contest Matt Houck — photo courtesy of Matt Houck

Iowa City-based MasterChef contestant Matt Houck has a collaborative dinner planned for this weekend at the Kirkwood Culinary Kitchen in Cedar Rapids’ NewBo City Market. The intimate eight course dinner was developed with the help of co-contestant Cesar Cano.

Houck and Cano met earlier this year during the show’s filming. Cano––who lives in Houston and teaches high school––has been using his summer vacation to tour the country, stopping to visit other contestants in their hometowns and spending time together in the kitchen. Until now, most of Cano’s cooking on the road has been relatively low-stakes and without pressure, just cooking with friends, but Saturday’s dinner with Houck will be the first dinner prepared for the public.

The dinner will feature a small plate tasting menu prepared before guests eyes by the pair in the open kitchen at NewBo City Market. The format of the dinner and the limited seating (just 12 spots total!) will allow guests a behind-the-scenes look as well as an opportunity to ask questions about the MasterChef experience, specific preparations and culinary inspirations.

Tickets for the dinner are $75 per person, and are available through Little Village Tickets.

“It should be really great. Not only the food, but the stories, too,” Houck said. “We’ll have the eight courses on the menu, but we’ll each probably have a few other little tastings as well.” 

A selection of dishes to be served at Saturday’s dinner — photos courtesy of Matt Houck

Hoping to showcase the abundance of local ingredients available at this time of year, Houck and Cano have sourced from local purveyors when possible and plan to also use ingredients grown in the Kirkwood Community College greenhouse, as well as wine produced through the college’s viticulture course.

While no future dinners are scheduled at this time, Houck hopes to plan something this fall. Working full-time as an optometrist at McDonald Optical keeps him busy, but he’s eager to find time for a dinner series or to teach cooking classes.

Stay tuned to Chef Houck’s social media accounts for more information on upcoming dinners and events: @dinnerwithchefhouck

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