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A Marshalltown chef is making his way through the global Favorite Chef competition.

Chad Tiller, 42, head chef at Legends, is sitting in 10th place in his chef group called Hero, of which there are 29 other competitors.

“I’m glad I’m not last,” he said, laughing. “If I am in tenth at the end of the first week, I know I will make it to the next round. I would be bummed if I was taken out in the first week and a half.”

Tiller, who has been creating culinary dishes for 20 years, is highlighting his popular Mango Habanero Sauce.

“It was really hard to pick just one,” he said. “The whole Legends menu is my baby, but I tend to lean toward the Mango Habanero Sauce because that is exclusively my recipe. It is one of our most popular sauces for wings and burgers. That is the signature item I picked.”

To get to the next round, Tiller has to be in the top 15 – determined by votes of people on the website – which ends Thursday. Then the contest narrows down the top 10 in each group and voting for that ends March 4. Afterward, the top 5 in each group go head-to-head from March 5 to March 11. The group winners face off March 12 to March 18. The quarter finals are held March 19 to March 25, followed by the semi-finals from March 26 to April 1 and the final round from April 1 to April 8.

“The contest runs a long time as they narrow it down,” he said.

Tiller does not know how he got placed in the Hero Group, as the contestants do not seem to be arranged by region or dishes. He is not aware of other Iowa chefs in the competition, as not everyone’s location is listed and Tiller did not recognize any of the other chefs in the Hero Group.

The winner will receive a prize valued at $50,000, plus a placement in an advertisement spread in “Bon Appetit” magazine.

Since the grand prize winner is determined by the number of votes people submit, Tiller is telling as many people as possible about it. Plus, votes can be submitted every 24 hours, so even if a vote was already given, someone can drop another one the next day.

This is the first culinary competition of this kind Tiller has entered. He did spend a little bit of time participating in barbecue contests, but that is it.

While the contest carries on, Tiller continues his culinary creativity. In April, he hopes to have a special Viper Sauce finished for a heat-focused eating challenge. Whoever successfully completes that challenge at Legends will receive a prize of some kind. Roughly four or five months ago, Tiller created the Monster Burger challenge, which focuses on volume.

“It’s a 4-pound tenderloin, two Legends burgers, onion rings, some queso and a double portion of fries,” he said. “Only 45 people have tried it so far.”

The winners have their picture placed on the wall and win a T-shirt designed specifically for the challenge.

Votes for Tiller can be submitted on favchef.com.

Contact Lana Bradstream at 641-753-6611 or lbradstream@timesrepublican.com.

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