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The Next Ironroot Chef: Meet the Finalists


Hello, my fellow flavor enthusiasts—Ant here. Last week, we announced our newest installment in the Ironroot Chef series as we put out the call for competitors in our community challenge. First, we would like to say thank you to all who submitted appetizers into our competition. We received many extremely flavorful decks, and wish we could showcase them all.

After much deliberation, we were able to settle on four of those submissions in particular. We felt that of the appetizers we received, the following four best captured what it means to be an Ironroot Chef. Without further ado, allow me to introduce the four finalists in the Next Ironroot Chef:

Matthew Nielsen

Matthew is a graduate student who has been playing Magic since Mercadian Masques. His favorite aspect of Magic is its diversity of flavor and all the strange and wondrous interactions one can uncover when battling throughout the Multiverse. In Matthew’s words, “Where else can you encounter a fire-breathing samurai locked in battle against a zombified angel?”

30-Card Casual Fugu ? Ironroot Chef Appetizer | Matthew

Hot Soup
“For a culinary daredevil, no thrill is greater than eating fugu, pufferfish sashimi. Pufferfish protect themselves with tetrodotoxin, among nature’s deadliest poisons and the inspiration for Puffer Extract. A skilled chef will remove all poison before serving, and yet, there is always the chance a little poison remains and you will not survive the meal. Tonight, I will use Puffer Extract to recreate in Magic the thrill of eating fugu for you and your opponent. With luck, you will slay your opponent in a single, glorious blow, but get unlucky, and you will be dead instead.

“A dangerous meal starts with the chef, and none are more dangerous than a Goblin Psychopath (a Fickle Efreet can substitute in a pinch though). A starter of Hot Soup (miso, ideally) will ensure the main course hits. Season with at least 5 mana of Puffer Extract, and you are ready to attack this meal. Many would consider this a Desperate Gambit, but then we are culinary thrill-seekers. Of course, all these ingredients can be difficult to assemble, but you knew this was a Gamble. For a little extra risk, uncork a Bottle of Suleiman, and serve chilled.”

Emma LaBelle

Emma has been an avid fan of Magic for the past ten years and enjoys both drafting and a good, old-fashioned game of Commander. Emma is a self-described Vorthos–Johnny, sifting through piles of cards after Friday Night Magic searching for the next flavorful gem to build a deck around.

Suggested art for Forests: mushrooms

Suggested art for Swamps: a dark alley

Vial of Poison
“As Puffer Extract’s flavor text suggests, in places like Mercadia Ravnica, and Paliano, the High City, where assassinations are a commonplace part of the political process, there is a lot of money to be made in the manufacture and sale of poisons. From lowly Nightshade Peddlers to Mercadia’s High Market, death is bought and sold by the vial. Of the many assassins in Magic’s history, a few are depicted specifically using poisons, whether administered with a blade (Nirkana Assassin) or slipped into a feast (Suq'Ata Assassin).

“Alongside artifacts such as Vial of Poison and Moonglove Extract, I included some of the plants (Scent of Nightshade, Sip of Hemlock) and animals (Glass Asp, Daggerback Basilisk) the poison-maker might use to concoct a variety of horrifying effects. I also included a few methods of delivery (Tainted Strike, Poison the Well).

“My favorite part of the deck is that it is in fact possible to win using poison counters, and that Puffer Extract is central to that strategy. Use it on an unblocked Blight Mamba or a creature you’ve already cast Tainted Strike on, and you can give your opponent as many poison counters as you have open mana.”

Russel Lee

Russel has been a fan of the game for years, having been following the game since Urza’s Saga. As he stated in his submission, Russel “love[s] nothing more than taking obscure cards and running with them like scissors down a long hallway.”


3 Island (RTR 258)

4 Mountain (RTR 268)

1 Plains (RTR 253)

Brion Stoutarm
“Welcome to Benihana, a fast and furious flying-fish emporium. While the menu typically has more than just seafood, it’s unagi night, and we have a treat for you.

Come on up to the Carnage Altar and watch the Soulfire Grand Master, Butcher's Cleavers in hand, in a dazzling display of swift knife work and snappy patter. Maybe, if you’re lucky, you can get a table with the owner Brion Stoutarm. No matter who your chef is, expect the performance of your life and food fresh from the Exquisite Firecraft straight to your palate after a sharp Fling from behind the cooktop.

“Travel to one of our many exotic locations (Temples, Mystic Monastery, and Transguild Promenade) for quality that never ends.

Puffer Extract is key to this deck because it gives the spice needed to bring all the flavor together over the finish line. Since all my creatures are small and I’m not packing enough burn to go straight to the face, it needs to play smart by “seasoning” the eels and squeezing value through fling and fire. In a pinch, an irate chef can use those Cleavers to good use dealing with dine and dashers.”

Roberto Moser

Roberto is a longtime Magic player who is looking to bring the traditional Italian passion for food to the Ironroot Chef competition. As Roberto put it, “For too long, we’ve been forced to taste rhinos and mantises. For too long, delicious Ancient Carps have been ignored, their culinary potential unexploited. Well, no more! It’s time to enjoy some finer cuisine, some creative deck-building that only the finest gourmets can enjoy!”

“Surprise your significant other with a meal you’ll never forget!

“Spaghetti allo scoglio” is a typical Italian dish—excellent for a romantic dinner.

Great Furnace
“Start Boiling some water in your Great Furnace. Then, add some salt, and drop some delicious spaghetti. Need some? The Flying Spaghetti Monster herself will sure provide enough for you and your partner. Meanwhile, clean and stir-fry some Giant Crab, some lobster (or an Homarid), and some Coral Eel. Select the finest ingredients and Muddle the Mixture with some Fishliver Oil. When the oil’s sizzling, it’s time to add the most important ingredient: your delicious Puffer Extract. Have problems finding such exotic ingredients? Check at your local Bazaar.

“Now drain the spaghetti and add your delicious seafood mixture. If you like spicy tastes, don’t forget to add some Peppersmoke. Pay attention: It’s very spicy! Now you can serve your delicious meal: don’t forget Forks, ’Knives, and two Darksteel Plates. Emrakul, the Aeons Torn’s spaghetti needs an elegant (and possibly indestructible) plate.

“Here, I like to add a spoonful of Puffer Extract to the finished dish—it’s delicious, and the taste will really stand out! Don’t forget you can also go for a Steam(vent)ing cooking method.

“Buon appetito!”

To Be Continued . . .

There you have it, folks! Our four competitors have been decided. Now it’s time for you to help determine the next step: Vote now to determine which competitor will begin the first battle.

[poll id="679"]

The top two finishing chefs will be the first two facing off!

Be sure to follow the @IronrootChef Twitter for updates on this series. The first two to compete, along with the secret ingredient they will need to use, will be announced this Friday. To the four selected warriors of flavor I say to you, good luck!


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