William Prunty

The Iron Horse Taven chef discusses his culinary career.

Iron Horse Tavern chef William Prunty has served as a sous-chef for two Cast Iron Cook-Off competitions. But when the event was scheduled for its inaugural Morgantown appearance on February 9 as part of the Winter Blues North Farmers Market at Mylan Park, new rules were applied. Instead of having a professional assistant and a team of amateurs as chefs have in the past, Prunty would participate in something akin to an episode of the Food Network’s Chopped or Iron Chef America. Contestants would be given baskets of ingredients and some money to buy additional items at the market before spontaneously preparing two dishes on their own. However, as the contest approached, Prunty, who grew up in Virginia Beach, Virginia, and in his dad’s native Lewis County and graduated from Pierpont Culinary Academy in Fairmont, was not fazed.

On becoming interested in cooking

Through my dad. He raised me and my brothers by himself since 1996. Through his travels in the Navy, he learned a variety of different dishes. He spent a lot of time in the Mediterranean and the Middle East and he picked up a lot of Mediterranean and Italian recipes. I grew up with good homemade Italian food.

On his experience at the regular 2015 Cast Iron Cook-Off as well as a special 2016 Throwdown event

For the previous two years, I competed with Geoff Kraus of Thyme Bistro (in Weston) as a sous-chef, so I’ve been part of Cast Iron for quite a while now. I worked with Geoff for almost two years and I learned a lot from him. It was really fun to really collaborate on a selection of dishes. That went really well.

On why not having a team did not concern him

When I was working with Geoff during the Throwdown, we had four dishes, and he was responsible for two and I was responsible for two. This year, all I have to do is two dishes. It’s always a little bit of a concern that goes into preparation. You want to make sure you bring everything you need—we’re bringing burners, pots, pans, utensils, knives. I have to double-check and triple-check, hoping I’ve got everything.

On his favorite foods to make

Anything that is new to me, be it a dish or a technique, always piques my interest more than something I’ve prepared hundreds of times.

On ingredients he would not mind getting to work with in the competition and those he hoped to avoid

I’d like some kind of game. I think it speaks to the region and where our food comes from. Getting anything I’ve never heard of would be challenging. You have to rely more on your senses as a professional to get it right versus utilizing experience you may have with a familiar ingredient.

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