Annual Chef's Challenge heats up


IMU Executive Chef Damian Esposito pulls a whole chicken during last year's 5th Annual Chef's Challenge on Sept. 5, 2011 at the Buskirk-Chumley Theater. Esposito would win the challenge to take home the "Golden Spatula." The Chef's Challenge featured three local chefs competing to create the best dish using the secret local ingredient, squash. IDS File Photo Buy Photos

Three Bloomington chefs will compete for bragging rights and the “Golden Spatula” trophy. In the style of Food Network’s “Iron Chef,” competitors will be given a secret ingredient and one hour to create a dish to impress the panel of celebrity judges.

Tickets for the Chef’s Challenge cost $25. Doors open at 6 p.m. and the competition begins at 7 p.m.

The event will benefit the Monroe County Community Kitchen.

Last year’s event raised about $20,000 to help the kitchen’s efforts to eliminate hunger in Monroe County.

Tim Clougher, assistant director of the kitchen and head of the Chef’s Challenge event, said he expects this year to be even more successful.

“We’re counting on a big crowd,” Clougher said. “It’s a good opportunity for students to sample local fare and support a sector of the community they might not be aware of.”

In addition to the competition, there will be samplings of local cuisine, a cash bar and a live auction of food-themed prizes featuring gift cards and a kitchen hutch.

Clougher said local businesses and contributors have been particularly generous this year.

Bloomington’s own Upland Brewing Company and Bloomington Brewing Company will put their best chefs forward to compete against the returning winner.

This year’s competitors will be Seth Elgar of Upland, Corbin Morwick of One World Catering and last year’s winner, Indiana Memorial Union head chef Damian Esposito.

Jeff Mease, co-founder and CEO of One World Enterprises, said he plans to attend the event and expects to win a bet between the contestants.

“My money literally is on our chef Corbin Morwick,” Mease said. “Corbin is really a remarkable chef and, amazingly, he is self-taught.”

Mease is looking forward to the competition, specifically the BBC and Upland bet.

“We have made a challenge to Upland that the loser must purchase a keg of the winner’s beer and put it on tap at their pub until it’s gone,” Mease said. “In addition, the loser will host a dinner party for 10 of the winner’s staff. I’m really looking forward to sipping a few pints of BBC in the Upland Tap Room, along with some of Seth’s fine cooking.”

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