BY: KRISTINA RAMCHARRAN
The 2017 Celebrity Chef: Men Who Cook competition held by United Achievement group with support from the William Osler Foundation was filled with the smells of delicious cuisine from around the world. The event, done in efforts to raise money and awareness for sickle cell disease, featured delicious dishes made by some unconventional chefs.
This is the 20th edition of the celebrity chef fundraiser, it was once again in high attendance, with over 150 hungry guests ready to try the array of special dishes made for the night’s competition, as well as numerous volunteers and the participating chefs.
The 26 chefs were each introduced prior to serving the food, with each chef being asked about their job background, the dish they made to serve, their nickname and what character they would consider themselves as if they were a cartoon.
Young amateur chefs Alex Battick and Bryan Bennett were two of the chefs putting forth their best dishes into the competition. “I’m one of the board members, and this is one of my friends who was gracious enough to offer his cooking talents and bake something for us,” said Battick on his role at the cookout and on his friend Bennett.
Battick said “as a broke student, you have to be very experimental with stuff.” His stuffed pasta shells dish, which ended up taking the third place spot for best appetizer, was a product of searching Google for an affordable and tasty dish on a budget.
Bryan Bennett decided to take part in the fundraising competition to support his best friend Battick. “I basically have zero experience in cooking, I just do this on a craving. If I feel like doing something I’ll make it,” said Bennett, who made his favourite dessert dish, lemon squares.
President and CEO of the William Osler foundation Ken Mayheu said that the community is doing a great job raising awareness and donations for sickle cell research with events like this. “I think this is about yet another great event from United Achievement, a group here in Brampton who are mostly committed to helping youth trough scholarships, but also because of the community we are in they are very concerned about sickle cell disease and are interesting in helping to fund sickle cell research and treatment.”
Mayheu said that they are currently treating over 100 children at William Osler, so the support is indeed valued. “To make a hospital healthy, you need to raise funds for the hospital, and to do it while having awesome food is even better,” he said.
“I think the chefs are fantastic, I think they are brave. I mean they put themselves out there.” Mayheu also mentioned that all of the expenses food expenses were covered by the chefs themselves, so that the money being raised is going directly to the cause.
Mayheu also said people can still donate at youhavethepower.ca for sickle cell research if they didn’t have a chance to make it to the event.
Dr. Matthew Weekes was one of the many judges at the cookout competition. He has been a judge for the event in previous years.
“As far as how the judging is going, it’s quite a challenge for there are many excellent presentations, so it’s quite difficult to make a choice. However, I think our choice will be pretty accurate,” said Dr. Weekes on the tough task of judging the great dishes.
Dr. Weekes added, “I think this event is very important. It promotes the good aspects of diversity. And you get an opportunity to sample different types of cultural foods.”
The standout dish of the night for Dr. Weekes was the Jerk Chicken Lasagna, which he saw as a tasty way of combining two different cultures. The lasagna placed first in the entrees section of the competition, and was made by Winston Franklin.
The night also featured entertainment, with steel pan sounds by Daniel McDonald, and a performance by the winner in the appetizer category for his Caribbean SOS dish, singer Dave ‘Comfort’ Vassel.