When the ski season ends and the visitors leave, mud season melts into Park City.

Many local residents head for vacation, because things have quieted down.

Those who remain this spring, however, will get a chance to attend a new fundraiser called Chef Wars that will be held at the Riverhorse on Main on Sunday, May 4.

The event, based on the reality cooking competition Knife Wars, will raise money for Friends of Animals Utah, a Summit County-based nonprofit organization dedicated to protecting and providing for animals while fostering an awareness of their importance in humans' lives.

It will feature three local chefs — Shabu owner and executive chef Bob Valaika, Zoom executive chef Ernesto Rocha and High West Distillery & Salon chef Ash Chapman — and three local celebrity judges — KPCW's John Burdick, former Park City Mayor Dana Williams and Deer Valley Resort executive chef Jodie Rogers, said Sharon Cantwell, a Friends of Animals Utah executive board member.

"We came and sat in these chairs and asked ourselves what we could do during the quieter season when the locals are here," Cantwell said during a group interview with The Park Record. "We thought about doing a fun fundraiser with appetizers and wine and that sort of thing that most people do.


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But we didn't want to host a fundraiser that was just clipboards and a silent auction and begging."

About 45 minutes into the meeting Casey Adams, who along with her husband, executive chef Seth Adams, own the Riverhorse, popped up and said, "I know! Chef Wars!"

"It seemed like the perfect complement," Cantwell said. "The Riverhorse has been such a long-term supporter of Friends of Animals Utah. We love this partnership and wanted to find a way to get people in its doors.

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Adams said she and Seth had been tossing around ideas to keep the locals excited during mud season.

She also said there is a need for local businesses to support each other.

"We support all the local businesses," she said. "We're all connected and need to help each other."

Adams also said Friends of Animals Utah was perfect because Park City loves its pets.

"We live in Park City and everyone here love animals," Adams said. "I have two dogs and we are big supporters of things that helps and supports animals."

While Seth won't be cooking, he will host the event, which will be emceed by KSL-TV's Jen Hardman.

"We thought it would be unfair and cause grapes to be thrown at us if Seth competed and he won," Cantwell said.

"I will set each of them up with a station in the restaurant's atrium so they will have a place to cut and cook and they will have a blender," Seth said. "I will give them two secret ingredients, and I don't even know what they are yet, and they will make two dishes in 90 minutes."

The competitors will be allowed a few minutes to collect their thoughts.

"After that, they can raid my kitchen for anything they want and they will be able to use the ovens or stoves to finish preparing their dishes," Seth said.

That doesn't mean Seth won't be offering some of his own creations.

"I will also be cooking some food for the people to enjoy while they are watching the competition," he said.

The three chefs were selected through texts.

"It was easy, really," Seth said. "Bob's fun and we go camping and hang out, and when he runs out of scallops, he borrows from me and vice versa. So we have a fun relationship."

Rocha used to work for the Riverhorse.

"He's another great guy and well loved," Seth said. "We wanted him to come get out of his routine for something fun."

Chapman is one of the newer faces in the Park City culinary community.

"He studied under Gordon Ramsey," Cantwell said. "He is a huge animal lover and is from the U.K. We thought he would be a great addition to the event and this would be a fun introduction of him to the town."

Each of the chefs who cook will be competing on behalf of an animal or animals.

Rocha will be cooking for his two Chihuahuas and a Pomeranian. Valaika has a black lab and Ash will playing for Lola, a Tabby cat from Friends of Animals Utah.

"We'll have big blow-up posters of these animals posted behind their cooking stations," said Cantwell.

Another aspect of Chef Wars will be the inclusion of sous-chefs, or chef assistants, said Claire Desilets, who, along with Cantwell, is another executive board member of Friends of Animals Utah.

"We'll auction those positions off and that will be exciting because people will cheer for their favorite chefs and sous-chefs during the event," Desilets said. "They will be running back and forth to the kitchen getting spices, pans and utensils for the chefs as they cook.

"We won't know the level of knowledge of the culinary arts that these sous-chefs will have, so it has the potential to be very hilarious," she said.

Admission will be $125.

"The price gets admission to the event, food and two drink tickets," said Casey Adams. "There will also be a cash bar on site as well."

"People will need to get here early because it will start on time and if you're late, you won't know what's going on," Cantwell said.

"We're calling this the first annual Chef Wars, because we're going to do it again," Desilets said. "We've already have had a great response."

The Riverhorse on Main will host Chef Wars, a fundraiser for Friends of Animals Utah, on Sunday, May 4, from 4 p.m. until 7 p.m. Tickets are $120 and available at the Riverhorse on Main or by visiting foautah.org.