Winter Park Competition Center dishes out top-notch eats, entertainment
January 15, 2009
Area gourmet gurus are getting ready to put on their chefs hats for the Fraser Valleys most popular culinary competition and must-attend winter event, the 26th Annual Chef’s Cup Benefit Dinner Dance. Festivities begin at 7 p.m. at the resort’s West Portal Station, where chefs and about 400 guests will socialize and enjoy tempting delights and entertainment to raise funds for the Winter Park Competition Center.Not only do residents and visitors get to sample the culinary creations (menu and specialty items) from almost a dozen Fraser Valley restaurants, they also get to vote for their favorites best appetizer, best entre, best presentation, most creative, best dessert, and Critics Choice.Those signed up so far to participate in the culinary contest include Devil’s Thumb’s Ranch House and Hecks restaurants, Fontenots Fresh Seafood & Grill, Denos Mountain Bistro, Showboat Catering, Docs Roadhouse, the Tabernash Tavern in Tabernash and at Iron Horse Resort.Devils Thumbs Ranch House Restaurant and Chef Ken Ohlinger are the ones to beat after they swept three of the six categories at last years event (Best Entre, Most Creative and Critics Choice). This year Ohlinger is also entering Devils Thumbs new restaurant, Hecks, which opened about a month after the 2008 competition. Docs Roadhouse will also return to defend their titles (they brought home Best Presentation and Best Appetizer awards last year), and The Pro Start Students of Middle Park High School, who hadnt signed up as of press time, won for Best Dessert in 2008.As people peruse a long list of auction items, service begins for cocktails and hors d’oeuvres. Guests enjoy the evening’s events along with complimentary wine, margaritas and beer, provided by Beringer Founders Estate, Margaritaville, and Mary Jane Ale/Coors.The silent auction will take place throughout the cocktail and dinner hours. Items up for bid include a VIP and backstage tour for two to a Food Network challenge and studio taping in Denver, two round-trip Southwest Airline tickets to anywhere in the United States, four tickets to a Colorado Avalanche home hockey game vs. the Anaheim Ducks, paintings by Karen Vance and other artwork, and the traditional wide variety of sporting goods and hotel and golf packages.The evening’s festivities round out with dancing and live music with Hazel Miller (until 11 p.m.). Miller was awarded the honor of being “One of the 150 people who make Denver a better place to live” and is said to be a musical force of nature. Alan Roach, the voice of the Denver Broncos and KOA Radio sports returns as master of ceremonies for the evening.Proceeds from the Chef’s Cup Benefit Dinner Dance are used to support the Winter Park Competition Center and its Winter Park Ski Education Foundation. Last year funds surpassed 2007s total of $15,000. Money raised will go toward youth ski and snowboard programs. Advance tickets are available at the Competition Center office, at the Winter Park/Fraser Valley Chamber of Commerce, or through central reservations at the ski area. Contact the Competition Center to make an auction donation (accepted by end of business day Monday).