Kootenay Granite Stone Soup Challenge is back

Eight local chefs slated to go head-to-head in a fundraiser for the Salvation Army and Cranbrook and District Community Foundation.

The 2016 Kootenay Granite Stone Soup Challenge chefs: (l-r) Kevin McDonald (West Coast Grill)

The 2016 Kootenay Granite Stone Soup Challenge chefs: (l-r) Kevin McDonald (West Coast Grill)

The challenge is back.

The Kootenay Granite Stone Soup Challenge, that is.

After last year’s successful inaugural event that raised $12,000 for the Salvation Army’s 24/7 homeless shelter and the Cranbrook and District Community Foundation’s general endowment fund, the organizers are back with a bigger and better event that will pit local chefs against each other in head-to-head in culinary combat at the Salvation Army’s soup kitchen.

Eight chefs are involved with the event, and will face weekly elimination events, with the final being held at the Prestige Inn Rocky Mountain Resort in early March.

Representing the best of Cranbrook’s local culinary scene are:

• COTR culinary arts student Lindsay Waugh, Hot Shots Cafe

• Chef Doug Wagner, St. Eugene Golf Resort & Casino

• Chef Kevin McDonald, West Coast Grill

• Chef Rusty Cox, The Heid Out Restaurant and Brewhouse

• Chef Graham Barnes, Max’s Place

• Chef Shelby Schiller, BJ’s Diner and Creekside Pub (reigning champion)

• Cook Carmen Alaric, Salvation Army

• David. D. Hull, Amateur chef and Executive Director of the Cranbrook Chamber of Commerce

As with last year, the event will be a fundraiser for the Salvation Army and the general endowment fund of the CDCF.

Major Kirk Green, with the Salvation Army, noted that plans for the 24/7 shelter are still in the works, however, the scope of the project has changed.

“What happened is, we were in consultation with BC Housing and our own committee and we came up with some grandiose plans that were, in hindsight, way too grandiose,” Green said. “We’re in a redesign situation; we’re looking at a model in Kelowna and we’re trying to figure out if we can use that model.

“We’re actually looking at some other options, too, maybe buying an existing property and renovating that kind of thing. That’s where we’re at. We’re continuing to raise money, we’re aware of the big needs, so are our partners.”

Even though the plans are still tentative, fundraising remains a key priority for the eventual project, which is why events like the Kootenay Granite Stone Soup Challenge are so important, Green added.

“Last year, they came close to raising $12,000 for the project. That, in a word, is amazing,” Green said. “When you consider events like this, events like Miracle on Baker Street that we had at Christmas, the community is behind this project—this is a fantastic place to live and we’re going to get the problem solved.”

Much like last year, the Kootenay Granite Stone Soup Challenge will include familiar elements. Chefs will battle head-to-head in the Salvation Army soup kitchen using only donated food items. Clients will get to sample both soups and vote for the winner.

However, there is one unique twist for this instalment, as each chef can bring one item that their competitor must use in their soup. It could be mystery ingredients such as marshmellows or cake sprinkles. If a chef wants to opt out of using the mystery ingredient provided by their competitor, they must fork over $50.

However, if the chef uses the mystery ingredient, then five points are added to their total at the voting tally.

First up is Lindsey Waugh of Hot Shots and Doug Wagner, the chef for St. Eugene Golf Resort and Casino, as they face off to open the event on Feb. 16th at the Salvation Army Soup Kitchen.

Waugh, a culinary student at the College of the Rockies, has worked at Hot Shots for the last few years and is banking on that experience to help her in the kitchen.

“I didn’t know what to expect, but I’m sure it’s going to be fun. It’s kind of nice, because with the College, we do a job shadow at the restaurants, so I’ve met some of the chefs,” Waugh said. “…I like a nice chowder, that’s what I’m kind of thinking, because you can make any kind of chowder you like.

While her competitors may have more experience, she’s banking on what she’s learned through her culinary program and at Hot Shots Cafe.

“Cooking is such empirical knowledge, you learn from doing and they just have that,” Waugh said. “I’ve learned so much at school, but when you get to a job site, then you learn so much more. And they’ve seen it all.

Graham Barnes, who was involved last year representing Max’s Place, said he’s looking forward to having some fun and facing his fellow culinary competitors.

“Looking forward to it this year, it seems a little more preparation is involved and more interest is involved. I think it’s going to be event better,” he said.

The twist of the mystery ingredient will throw in a nice challenge, as well, he added.

I think it’s good,” Barnes said. “I was kind of thinking that’s what was going to happen, so I’m trying to think of what the worst ingredient I could give out, but it’s going to come back at me, too, so I’ll make it work somehow.”

The final challenge will go down on March 2, at the Prestige Inn Rocky Mountain Resort, from noon to 1:30 p.m. Tickets are available at two prices—$25 for lunch or $45 for lunch and a charitable $20 receipt. Tickets can be purchased at Max’s Place, through the CDCF office by calling 250-426-1119 or online through snapd East Kootenay.

Following the showdown between Waugh and Wagner, the schedule goes as follows:

Thursday, Feb. 18

Chef Graham Barnes (Max’s Place) against David. D. Hull (Executive Director, Cranbrook Chamber of Commerce)

Friday, Feb. 19

Chef Kevin McDonald (West Coast Grill) against Cook Carmen Alaric (Salvation Army)

Monday, Feb. 22

Chef Rusty Cox (The Heid Out Restaurant and Brewhouse) against Chef Shelby Schiller (BJ’s Diner and Creekside Pub)