Locals seen nationwide
Greg Vinson and Rob McDaniel grab headlines on the same weekend
Story by Natalie Nettles and J.D. Cowart
Feb. 26 marked a monumental milestone in the lives of two of Lake magazine’s longtime columnists.
Professional angler Greg Vinson finished in second place in the 2012 Bassmaster Classic on the Red River in Shreveport, La. Later that day, Rob McDaniel, executive chef and general manager at Springhouse restaurant, assisted in defeating celebrity Iron Chef Bobby Flay on the popular Food Network show, “Iron Chef America.”
For Vinson, a Wetumpka resident who grew up fishing on Lake Martin, placing second in the Bassmaster Classic was “a big boost in confidence.”
“I think a second place finish in the biggest fishing tournament in the world is a solid statement to the rest of the field and to myself as well,” Vinson said.
The angler, who was raised in the Bay Pines area of Lake Martin, hauled in a $45,000 prize for the runner-up finish with a three-day weight of 47.15.
“I’ve worked hard to continue to improve my angling over the past two years,” said Vinson, who has one first place finish on the tour, as well as six top-10 finishes. “It’s good to see that hard work paying off and I am excited to see what the future holds.”
Vinson stood in second place out of the 49 total anglers at the Classic at the end of the first day by only a few ounces.
On the second day, Vinson was a little further back in second place by a pound and the final day Vinson finished two to three pound short of first place.
Another Alabama native, Chris Lane, of Guntersville took first place in the tournament weighing in a three-day total of 51.6 pounds. The second place finish for Vinson is a sign of what’s to come for the angler, who is only in his second year at the Classic and will now be a top name in the remaining tournaments throughout the season.
“I’ve got to get focused on the Bassmaster Elite Series qualifying rounds,” Vinson said. “Once the Bassmaster is over, we start qualifying for it again immediately.
“I’ve worked hard to get where I am, but more is going to be expected out of me now, so I’ve got to work even harder.”
McDaniel served in the Feb. 26 episode of “Iron Chef America” as sous chef for Chris Hastings, executive chef at Hot and Hot Fish Club in Birmingham, defeating Bobby Flay in a one-point victory.
Springhouse hosted a private viewing party for McDaniel and his friends and family at the restaurant the night of the show and cheers erupted as show host Mark Dacascos announced Hastings as the winner.
“It was awesome. It was a lot of fun and a great event all-around,” said McDaniel, who had kept the results of the show a secret since its taping last July. “It was worthwhile to keep it a secret for so long. I don’t think it would have had the same effect on everyone here had they known.”
Each week on “Iron Chef America,” world-class chefs battle one of the legendary Iron Chefs of America – Bobby Flay, Mario Batali, Masaharu Morimoto, Cat Cora, Jose Garces, Michael Symon or Marc Forgione – in New York’s Kitchen Stadium. The chefs compete to see who can prepare the best five dishes in an hour containing a secret ingredient that varies from show to show.
The secret ingredient this time was sausage, which received a round of applause from those watching the show at Springhouse. The results were scored on taste, originality and plating and judged by “Law & Order” actor Anthony Anderson and recurring Iron Chef judges Donatella Arpaia Stewart and Simon Majumdar.
McDaniel, who previously worked at Hot and Hot Fish Club, has been employed with Russell Lands On Lake Martin at Springhouse at Russell Crossroads since November 2008.
McDaniel said it was an honor to appear on the show and compete against Flay, who has appeared on “Iron Chef America” more than 50 times and has a 70 percent winning percentage. He added that it was very special to watch the premiere of the show with his friends and family at Springhouse.
“Several of my friends from Birmingham came down and my parents were here, so it was all really special,” he said. “The whole thing – from the moment Chris called me and asked me to do it, to when I talked to him again … after the show – was just a great experience. It was just one of those things that I was very honored to be asked to be a part of.”