Good Shepherd Food Bank in Auburn corralled some of Portland's finest chefs and restaurants for last night's "Chopped Challenge" event to benefit its Cooking Matters program. A sell-out crowd of more than 300 showed up at Grace to watch as Mitch Gerow of the East Ender, Jason Loring of Nosh Kitchen Bar, Jeff Landry of The Farmer's Table, and Grace's own Peter Sueltenfuss, battled it out in a fierce competition based on the Food Network show, Chopped.
Just like the show, there were "mystery baskets" for each course, but no wildcard ingredients like the gummy bears, durian fruit or haggis that regularly show up on TV. Landry was the first to be eliminated, followed by Gerow, leaving Sueltenfuss and Loring in the dessert round, with blueberries, condensed milk, graham crackers and chocolate balsamic vinegar. Loring whipped up some tempura bacon, but Sueltenfuss still won the day – and a meat cleaver as the grand prize.
Judges for the completion included chef Rob Evans of Duckfat in Portland, a Chopped Champion himself; Joe Ricchio, former food editor at Maine Magazine and host of the web-based series Food Coma TV and Meredith Goad, food editor for The Portland Press Herald.
"We were blown away by the support we received at the Cooking Matters 'Chopped Challenge,' said Courtney Kennedy, program manager for Cooking Matters Maine, who confirmed that the event raised $12,000 for the program. "From the staff at Grace, to the participating chefs, to the local restaurants that offered tastings – everyone came together to put on a one-of-a-kind event and show support for ending childhood hunger in Maine."
- Claire Jeffers contributed to this post
· Good Shepherd Food Bank [Official Site]