The Kelowna Gospel Mission’s Stone Soup Chef event is back for a second year.
The competition pits some of the Okanagan’s leading chefs against each other in a bid to make the most tasty soup from whatever ingredients are on hand, in the Mission’s kitchen on that day.
It will feature eight chefs including newcomers Stuart Klassen of the Delta Grand Okanagan Hotel, Ross Derrick of the Peak Fine Restaurant at Sparking Hills Resort near Vernon and James DeLong of Cabana Bar and Grille. They will join returning contestants James Hanna of Raudz, Jesse Croy of Summerhill Pyramid Winery, Edan Fay of Lake Okanagan Resort, Michael Lyon of the Edorado Hotel and defending champion Paul Cecconi of Local Lounge and Grille in Summerland.
Event producer Erin O’Reilly said this year’s competition will follow the same format as last year, the only difference being that any donated ingredients for use by one chef must be donated to all the other chefs as well.
Four preliminary cook-offs will take place between Feb. 21 and Feb. 28, with the semi-finals March 3 and 7. The final takes place during a gala event at the Delta Grand on March 12.
Tickets for the gala went on sale Wednesday.
Last year’s inaugural Stone Soup Chef contest, deemed a smashing success by organizers, prompted the second annual competition to take place right after the Canadian Culinary Championships, which take place in Kelowna in mid February.
According to organizers, the timing was deliberate and they hope to have some of the country’s top chefs on hand to act as celebrity judges as well.
“(Last year) was a blast,” said O’Reilly. That was mostly because it was not just a competition. Sure, there are bragging rights (for the winning chef) but it is also for a good cause.”
While the gala raises money for the Mission, the aim of the chefs’ work is to show how you can make tasty, nutritious soups by just using the basic ingredients that one has in a kitchen.
For Derrick, who could not participate last year but jumped at the chance to get involved this time around, the good-natured competition and knowing he is helping in the community made all the difference.
“The bragging rights are fun but you know you are doing a good thing too,” he said during a tour of the Mission’s Leon Avenue kitchen earlier this week.
The soups that the chefs create in the preliminary and semi-final rounds will be served to the Mission’s clients and O’Reilly said the clients have shown they have no problem passing judgment on the quality of the fare they are served.
“They will tell you exactly what they think,” she told Derrick.
In addition to the Mission’s clients, the soups will be judged by local celebrity judges and, at the final, the six chefs who were eliminated in the earlier rounds of the competition.