Nuzzles & Co. fundraiser ready to start cooking | ParkRecord.com

Nuzzles & Co. fundraiser ready to start cooking

Chef Wars 2017 registration is open

The original idea for the annual Nuzzles & Co. fundraiser, Chef Wars, was to host a wine and cheese event.

"But now, looking back we knew we wanted to do something new and different during shoulder season," the nonprofit's board president Kathleen Toth said during a Park Record interview. "We then thought, 'You know, this is Park City and we have the greatest community. So, let's make this a party.'"

The 2017 Chef Wars, a fundraiser for Nuzzles & Co., a Summit County no-kill animal rescue nonprofit, will be held on May 7 at the Riverhorse on Main. Registration is open at http://www.nuzzlesandco.org/chef-wars-2017.

Over the past four years, Nuzzles & Co. has refined the recipe for the event.

"We decided to gather some of Park City's best chefs, who are not only the best in Park City, but also some of the best chefs in the country, and have them cook," Toth said.

The next step was to flavor the event by inviting the public to feast on the food these chefs would create with lists of food that include "special ingredients."

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"The chefs don't know what these ingredients are until they are asked to cook," Toth said.

To add more flavor, Nuzzles & Co. decided to ask some local personalities and celebrities to judge the food and mix everything together at the Riverhorse on Main, run by Executive Chef Seth Adams and his wife, Casey.

"We love the Riverhorse," Toth said. "They love what we do and wanted to give something back to the animals."

As the years went by, Nuzzles & Co. added new ingredients to Chef Wars.

"We upped the competitive elements, so people could cheer and even bribe the chefs during the competition," Toth said. "We also came up with the concept of adding sous-chefs from the people who came. So, if they wanted to do that or become a kitchen helper, they could bid for these positions.

"I mean, we know there are people who like to cook, so, what would happen if these people could have the opportunity to cook alongside these world-class chefs or at least be their assistants? We thought it would be a huge hit."

Last year, the sous-chef bidding went up to $700 and $800, and the money goes straight to the animals, Toth said.

Park City resident Jenna Swan was one of last year's sous-chefs.

"My husband encouraged me to put in a bid, but it wasn't clear what we were bidding on," Swan said. "I thought we were bidding on a chef to cook a private meal at our home and didn't know that I would be working with a chef, right then and there."

Jordan Harvey, the chef for Zoom restaurant, recruited Swan.

"We all got swept away to our stations and met our chefs and Chef Jordan started to tell me to cut this, chop that, don't throw this or that away and clean this," she said.

The secret ingredient Swan's team had to work with was bone marrow.

"We really had no time to sit and think about what we were going to make, so Chef Jordan just sliced the bone and roasted the marrow," Swan said. "We made crostino to scoop out the marrow and did something with mushrooms, so there was a lot of chopping."

Swan will never forget how much fun she had.

"It was my first time attending the event and I was so glad we went, because this was something we talked about going [to] for years," she said. "We were there for the animals, but we also love everything about the Riverhorse."

Toth is grateful to the Adams couple for donating the restaurant for the event every year, so every penny benefits the rescued animals.

"They have been so generous and I believe they truly do this from the bottom of their souls," she said. "It's a big thing to put on, but Seth and Casey make the restaurant available to us by shutting it down for a night."

Last year's Chef Wars raised $20,000.

"That's fantastic, because we are getting into a hard part of the season for us," Toth said. "We really start counting our pennies at this time, which happens to coincide with the emergence of more homeless cats and dogs, many of which need medical attention and around-the-clock care.

"Because our home is in Summit County and Park City, we are committed to making sure Summit County is a no-kill rescue community, including animals that have been injured by vehicles or other animals. It's been like that for the past six years."

Nuzzles & Co. also rescues animals from other areas, including Nephi, Tooele and the Navajo Reservation in southeast Utah and the Ute Reservation in northeastern Utah.

"Shelters are chock full of animals from now until August and if not one rescues them, they will die," Toth said.

In 2016, Nuzzles & Co. rescued more than 1,500 animals, and the nonprofit not only saves cats and dogs, but it also fixes broken legs, brings the pets out of malnutrition and finds them homes.

"We have a vet clinic and vet staff on site, so if an animal needs X-rays or other services, we can provide them," Toth said.

The cost to care for each animal, on the low side, is $300, and the high side, is $1,500. The overall cost for running Nuzzles & Co. each year is approximately $1 million.

"If we have a long-term patient, that can cost upwards of more than $2,000," Toth said. "We don't give up on them. They are with us until we find them forever homes."

The reason why Chef Wars is important to Nuzzles & Co. is simple, Toth said.

"There is a misconception that we are a wealthy nonprofit, and that's not true," Toth said. "We operate leanly and save as much as we can. In the past, we've had to take out a line of credit to survive. If we didn't have Chef Wars, we wouldn't have been able to make it."

Chef Wars 2017, a benefit for Nuzzles & Co., will be held at 5 p.m. on Sunday, May 7, at Riverhorse on Main, 540 Main St. Tickets are $95. Attendees must be 21 or older. For information, visit http://www.nuzzlesandco.org/chef-wars-2017.

Chef Wars 2017 tidbits

Hosts:

  • Seth and Casey Adams — Riverhorse on Main

Chefs:

  • Josh Hobson — Butcher’s, Wine Dive, Boneyard, No Name Saloon & Grill chef
  • Michael Zachman — Waldorf Astoria Park City executive chef
  • Shawn Armstrong — Montage Deer Valley executive chef

Judges:

  • Eliza James –Boxing is for Girls owner
  • Larry Warren — KPCW president and general manager
  • Ted Scheffler — Devour Utah food, wine and travel writer; Salt Lake City Weekly editor and restaurant critic.

Emcee:

  • Jenn Hardman — television host, reporter, producer, spokesmodel, media trainer, event and musician

Honored Guest:

  • Mark Miller Subaru

Sponsors:

  • Salt Lake Laser Etch
  • Wasatch Audio