Culinary king to be crowned at food bank fundraiser

Move over “Chopped.”

This Saturday, three peninsula chefs will face off against each other in the first-ever Clash of the Culinary Kings. The competition, which is being held at the Challenger Learning Center in Kenai, is to help raise money for the Kenai Peninsula Food Bank.

The event kicks off at 6:00 p.m. with an hors d’oeuvres competition. Several eateries from around the peninsula are providing hearty snacks for the 200 expected guests. Attendees can then vote on the best hors d’oeuvres. Kassik’s Brewery, Alaska Berries and Bear Creek Winery will provide beer and wine.

Linda Swarner, executive director of the Kenai Peninsula Food Bank, said guests will be pleased with the food.

“I don’t think (guests) will go away hungry,” she said.

The night’s main event is a competition between three local chefs — Steve England of Kenai Catering, Paul Warner of aksupperclub.com, and Daniel Haag of The Flats Bistro.

Each chef will be given 45 minutes to transform a mystery box of food into a delicious entree. After the time is up, three judges will eliminate one chef. The two remaining chefs will move on to the final round where they will cook a dessert to determine who is the night’s culinary king.

The chefs will prepare their dish at identical cooking stations provided by Spenard Builders Supply and Whirlpool. The winner will receive a custom trophy donated by Metal Magic.

Steve England said the experience will be new for him and his wife.

“We haven’t done (a competition like this) before, but we’ll give it a shot,” he said. “We’re excited to be involved.”

England said he’s looking forward to participating in the competitions and helping the food bank.

“It’s going to be exciting,” he said. “There’s a little bit of anxiety on my part, because here I’m going to butt heads with two other really good chefs in the area. But in the end it’s for the Food Bank — that’s the most important thing.”

Despite holding this type of competition for the first time, Swarner said she expects a successful night.

“People are really excited because it’s new and it’s different,” she said. “This will be entertaining, and you get to eat good food.”

Swarner said the event is important, because it helps provide food to people in need. In 2014, the Food Bank provided more than 1 million pounds of food to Kenai Peninsula residents. Swarner said the Food Bank served nearly 700 people a month last year.

This year, those numbers are increasing.

“We keep having more people come and seek our services,” Swarner said.

Tickets for the event are $75 a person, and can be purchased at the door or at the food bank. All proceeds from the evening go to support general operations at the food bank.

For more information, call Linda Swarner at 398-4846

Reach Ian Foley at ian.foley@peninsulaclarion.com.

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