The Ultimate Food Challenge was a hot event for both competition’s sake and the recognition of the stellar programs of the Daily Bread Food Bank. Notable Toronto chefs Donna Dooher (Mildred’s Temple Kitchen), Daniel Mezzolo (Gusto 101), and Saverio Macri (Cibo Wine Bar) sweated it out in good spirits as they battled to make the most impressive dish, having only ingredients found in a donated food hamper and 25 minutes on the clock.
The talented crop of chefs, as well as the all-stars in the Daily Bread’s Catering Kitchen, played to the palates of the crowd at Corus Quay. The Daily Bread Food Bank has ended hunger for thousands of Toronto residents since 1983 by providing food, information, training, and counseling to those in need.
“The Ultimate Food Challenge provides funds for one of our unique solutions to hunger,” explains Executive Director Gail Nyberg alongside Chair of the Board Anne Kothawala. “All of the proceeds from this event will benefit and support Daily Bread’s Kitchen and Food Services Training Program, which provides nutritious prepared meals to shelters, snack, and other meal programs, while providing on-the-job training opportunities for people with barriers to finding employment.”
The Daily Bread’s Food Services Training Program is a 16-week program staffed by five full-time professionals. In 2013, the Kitchen Program provided 170,000 nutritious meals to shelters, schools, and other meal programs serving low-income children and adults. They operate in more than 100 public and social service agencies across the GTA.
While the contestants displayed their culinary prowess before the competition at their Marché Stations, the rotation of canapés – like a savoury turnip cake with tart cabbage kimchi, aloo gobi rolls with curried potato and cauliflower puree, and sweet mushroom duxelle en croute with picked enoki mushrooms – made by the participants in the Food Services Training Program truly impressed.
When the lights turned up and the pans began to steam, it was the chefs’ turn to impress judges Michael Bonacini, Emily Richards, and Massimo Capra. Chef Dooher transported us across the Atlantic with her Moroccan Veggie Tagine. Chef Mezzolo stayed true to his Italian roots with a simply delicious tuna pasta. And Chef Macri earned major creativity points with his tartare of hot dog with fresh picked vegetables and tomato sauce.
In the end, Chef Dooher was named the victor by both the judges and the audience’s votes, however the real triumph went to the Daily Bread Food Bank and the students of the Food Services Training Program.
“I usually shy away from competitions,” expressed Chef Massimo Capra. “But tonight is different. This is not a competition; it is a cause. I am here because I choose to be, not because I have to.”
Who do you think should’ve won the Ultimate Food Challenge? Let us know in the comments below or tweet us @ViewTheVibe.