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Winter Park’s Chef’s Cup overflows with success

Cyndi Palmer
Sky-Hi Daily News

Despite blustery conditions throughout Grand County last Friday evening, the 25th Annual Chef’s Cup event at Winter Park Resort was deemed a huge success.

Almost 400 guests arrived in support of the event, a benefit for the Winter Park Competition Center and its youth ski and snowboard programs. Guests were also treated to live music and dancing, spectacular silent auction items and the bell of the ball, the local culinary competition.

Jenn deBerge, communications coordinator for the Resort, said the total amount raised is still being calculated, “but we are thrilled with the success of this year’s event and silent auction.” She said the funds raised surpassed last year’s total of $15,000 and she passed along a big thank you to the many local restaurants, businesses and volunteers who helped make the Cup possible this year.

Fraser Valley restaurants who donated time and talent to offer guests samplings of their culinary creativity competed for awards for People’s Choice, Best Appetizer, Best Entree, Best Dessert, Most Creative and Best Presentation.

Chef’s Cup hors d’oeuvres samplings were put together by Doc’s Roadhouse and chefs Chadrick Sparks and Scott Shattuck, featuring a baked crab cake with an apricot chipotle cream sauce; Devil’s Thumb Ranch, with white truffle fried macaroni and cheese; Hernando’s Pizza and chefs Jeff and Kimber Davidson with their stromboli stuffed with Italian sausage, spinach cheese and mushrooms, and smothered with marinara; Showboat Catering (Sherry Kent, Chevy Cook, Chips and Mindy Harrison, and “Lovely Linda) with an assortment of breads; and the Best Appetizer winner of the evening went to Chris Moore (and guest Tom Newton) of Fontenot’s Fresh Seafood Grill and their crawfish etoufee on a risotto cake.

In the entree category, Devil’s Thumb’s Ranch House Restaurant rose to the top with is bourbon and black pepper-braised pork cheek with roasted sweet potato salad and collard green kimchee. Other entrees giving Devil’s Thumb a run for its money included Deno’s Mountain Bistro with its shrimp, chicken, andouille sausage and green chili gumbo (Chef Debbie Lewis); Five Mountain Tavern’s coffee-braised short rib atop bleu cheese gratin made by chefs Edward Coulombe, Maria Juana Alsina, and Maria Ines Garcia; red chili prepared by the Pro Start Students at Middle Park High School; Moffat-Derailer’s herb-crusted New Zealand rack of lamb served on sweet potato gnocchi (made by Harry Aparcana and Anthony Rufus); and the “Beer and a Shot” entry by chefs Alberto Sapien and Pete Wertz of sauteed beef deglazed with gold tequila, smothered in beer bacon gravy, topped with Maytag bleu cheese walnut salsa and sweet potato rajas from Wild Creek Brewing Company at Untamed Southwest Grill.

Best Dessert went to the Pro Start Students of Middle Park High School, who offered lucky guests chocolate-covered strawberries and truffles. Chefs from the school were Josh Van Natta, Joey Coucke, Levi Sapien and Dan Walker.

Other desserts included the Club Car’s orange creme brulee, Doc’s (Roadhouse) bread pudding with a bourbon glaze, and Untamed Southwest Grill/Wild Creek Brewing Company’s black and tan pudding.

The overall esteemed People’s Choice Award went to Devil’s Thumb Ranch, Ranch House Restaurant, which was also awarded Most Creative. Best Presentation was awarded to Doc’s Roadhouse.

When asked what it was like to sweep three of the six categories, Ranch House Restaurant Chef Ken Ohlinger said, “It’s always nice to win something,” but that “it was a good feeling” to win a majority of the categories. “We were very pleased how everything looked and tasted. The proof was in the pudding,” he said.

“It was a good crowd and everyone was really receptive.” Ohlinger said he would definitely like to return next year to defend the titles, perhaps even entering Devil’s Thumb’s new restaurant Heck’s, set to open by the end of February.

Alan Roach from KOA Radio was emcee for the evening. Other sponsors who also helped make the silver anniversary celebration of the popular Chef’s Cup a success this year included Beringer Wine Estates, Mary Jane Ale, Margaritaville, O2 Creative, McConnell Printing and The Restaurant Source.


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