Fans of supporting community organizations and of cooking competition shows such as “Chopped” have an opportunity to enjoy both on Sunday, Sept. 16, as the Westminster Rescue Mission hosts its first Chefs in the Nest food contest.
The ticketed event will run 3 to 6 p.m. and feature local chefs racing to cook a winning dish prepared solely from ingredients found in the mission’s Sparrow’s Nest Food Pantry, according to director of development Angela Phillips.
“It’s kind of a mash-up of ‘Chopped’ and ‘Guy’s Grocery Games,’ ” she said. “The chefs will have 60 seconds to go through the pantry to pull things from the food that is literally what our food client guests are able to choose from.”
The mission serves around 600 families a month through the pantry, according to Phillips, providing their supplemental food needs.
The competing chefs — Bryan Davis and Brooke Hagerty of The Food Chick, Ken Lurie of Bud’s at Silver Run and Brandon Reiter of the Steeped Tea Cafe — will use those same ingredients and the mission’s commercial kitchen to create a signature dish to impress the three local celebrity judges.
Those judges? Carroll County Sheriff Jim DeWees; Del. Susan Krebs, R-District 5; and Westminster Mayor Joe Dominick.
“Whenever I catch one of those shows, I always get caught up in the episode — I thought it would be fun. I do enjoy food, so,” Dominick said. “I am looking forward to doing this with Del. Krebs and the sheriff. I like both of them. I think it will be a fun time and we’ll see how well our palates match up.”
Added DeWees: “I’m a big fan of ‘Guy’s Grocery Games’ on the Food Network channel, and this is a page right out the show so I’m excited to see what the chefs create from the mission pantry. This is an awesome idea and place so I’m very excited.”
Tickets for the event are $25, available in advance or at the door, Phillips said. The competition will be livestreamed on a screen, while guests will be treated to appetizers produced ahead of time by the competing chefs, live music from a three-piece jazz band and a live painting by local artist Lyndi McNulty.
And, Phillips said, “We will have silent auction items and live auction items throughout the afternoon.”
The funds go to support two projects for the mission, the first being the food distribution program, of which the food pantry is a part.
“The mission is a long-term, faith-based residential recovery program, at this time for men who are battling with a drug or alcohol addiction,” Phillips said. “Part of the men’s responsibilities while they are here is to be in a work station. Since 1986, one of those workstations has been the food distribution program.”
Those men go around to area restaurants and stores and pick up excess food and then distribute it not only through the Sparrow’s Nest food pantry, but to other area food pantries as well.
The other project is opening the mission’s residential facilities for women as well, Phillips said.
“We are in the process of rehabilitating the original residential building here on our campus. We recently received funding in Gov. [Larry] Hogan’s 2019 budget to be able to bring that other residential building back online, to open that building for a women’s program,” she said. “This time next year, if it’s not already live, it will be within steps of being open.”
But beyond raising funds and having fun, Phillips said the idea behind this first-time event is to simply raise awareness — first and foremost of the fact that their pantry shelves are a little bare this time of year.
Said Phillips: “[We want] to let people in this community know people really are food insecure. There really are people who are hungry and they don’t stop being hungry in the summer months.”
And despite recent rains, Phillips said, she is hoping for a fairly summery day for the event.
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“It’s looking like we’re supposed to have sun and 78 degrees on Sunday. We’re really excited about that,” she said. “We’re really trying to promote and advertise and have people in this community show up, learn more about our mission and have a great afternoon.”