Chefs go to battle for a good cause
May 8, 2015
For three Park City chefs, the battle is set to rage.
Chef Wars, a cooking competition that benefits Friends of Animals Utah, a Park City-based non-profit organization that finds homes for pets, is returning for its second year. The competition, which to be held May 17, will pit Handle’s Briar Handly, Sundance Resort’s Mark Peterson and High West’s Vanessa Chapman against one another.
The three chefs will be given secret ingredients and will have 90 minutes to whip up a spontaneous dish. Local-celebrity judges will determine a winner.
Seth Adams, executive chef and co-owner of Riverhorse on Main, which hosts and organizes the event, said he has not yet picked out the ingredients the chefs will use. The chefs not knowing the ingredients until the competition begins puts a challenging spin on the competition.
"It’s a fun change of pace," Adams said. "It’s not meant to stress anyone out. It’s certainly not for everyone — I don’t think everyone flourishes in that kind of environment, but it’s fun for those that do. We’ve found the right people to jump on board with this."
But the chefs won’t be the only ones under pressure. Three sous-chef positions will be auctioned off to members of the public. The sous-chefs will help the chefs with tasks such as cutting meat or garnishing dishes.
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"It’s a different experience for the average home-cook," Adams said. "Last year, it was a pretty intense competition, so we probably scared one or two of them away, with them never wanting to do it again, but it’s definitely a fun, entertaining aspect of it."
Since a winner will be named, the chefs can get a little competitive during the event, Adams said. Nonetheless, everyone involved knows there are no true losers because the proceeds are going to a good cause.
"They want to win, but they also understand what it’s for," he said. "Heck, I’m friends with all the chefs who participate. It’s really just fun. No one is going to get their feelings hurt if they don’t win. Almost everyone involved with it has a dog, so we all recognize what a good cause it is. It’s definitely a need that’s there and we enjoy supporting it."
In addition to benefitting Friends of Animals Utah, the event can provide inspiration for the chefs — both those participating and watching.
"I would do something different with the ingredients than they would, so it’s fun to see what other people do with them," Adams said. "Any time you can see what other people are doing, it’s a benefit to your career as a chef. You can only be in your box for so long inside your same restaurant. I think it’s a good thing for everyone."
Adams said last year’s competition was a success. The idea for the event was born when Friends of Animals approached Riverhorse on Main about organizing a fundraiser.
While events to raise money for non-profits are a regular occurrence in Park City, Adams saw an opportunity to put a different kind of spin on the fundraiser.
"Everyone in Park City is always doing wine dinners or this and that," Adams said. "Those are, to me, kind of a dime a dozen. We do wine dinners anyway. So we wanted to do something a little different. Not everyone wants to come and do the silent auction type of thing, all dressed up and stuffy.
"It was a huge success," he added. "Everyone was having a party and having a good time. It’s a good way to spend a Sunday afternoon besides church, I think."
Tickets for Chef Wars, which will be held May 17 at Riverhorse on Main from 4:30 p.m. to 8 p.m., cost $125, with proceeds going to Friends of Animals Utah. The organization rescues animals from shelters throughout the state and has found homes for more than 12,000 pets, according to its website. For more information, or to buy tickets to Chef Wars, visit foautah.org.