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Hawthorn Grill to defend its top prize in Chef Showdown

Dayton’s best chefs will battle it out on March 18-19 for $500 and bragging rights in an event that showcases creativity and cooking skills under pressure.

With 20 minutes and a mystery box of ingredients, and the Whole Food Pantry to help augment, nine talented local chefs will be challenged to create an appetizer for a panel of judges on March 18 at the Dayton Home and Garden Show.

One chef from each round advances to the finals on March 19. They’ll have 30 minutes to cook an entree from their master box.

Last year the first time event saw three rounds of competition with chefs creating dishes on the fly centered around four mystery ingredients unveiled at the start of the timer.

The chefs at the start of the event- l to r - chef Mariah Gahagan, emcee Jim Bucher, Chef Candace Rinke and Chef Matt Hayden. CONTRIBUTED

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Chef Candace Rinke of the Hawthorn Grill took home the top prize last year with a refreshing Italian-inspired bread salad bolstered by shrimp, asparagus, black beans, canned peaches and canned tomatoes — the secret ingredients. The event is to help highlight thinking on the fly for home cooks looking to be inspired.

>> RELATED: Big changes on tap for Hawthorn Grill

>> RELATED: 12 questions with last year’s Chef Showdown winner

Candace Rinke, chef/owner of the Hawthorn Grill, poses with the restaurant’s grilled cheese and tomato soup dish and bread pudding that is currently on their menu. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO BY ALEXIS LARSEN (Contributing Writer)

HOW THE CONTEST WORKS

“The Chef Showdown is run like a simpler version of the television show Chopped on the Food Network. On the first day, there are three rounds of competition. In each round, three local chefs compete to make an appetizer with unknown ingredients and only 20 minutes on the clock. The winner of each round moves on to the final round to compete the next day. These chefs compete in the final round hoping to win notoriety as well as a cash prize,” said Rinke. “I feel like winning validated my presence on the restaurant scene in Dayton, although two 20 minute rounds of cooking over one weekend doesn’t begin to hold a candle to the 13- and 14-days of non-stop challenges I face as a business owner and chef.”

Here are the March 18 line-ups for the competition that will now be in its second year:

11 a.m.: Candace Rinke, Hawthorn Grill vs. Aaron Braun, Meadowlark vs. Amy Finch, Lilys Bistro

1 p.m.: Maria Walusis, Nibbles vs. Rae Rosbough, Trolley Stop vs. Mariah Gahagen, Bar Dumaine

3 p.m.: Crystal Coppock, Wheat Penny vs. Matt Hadyen, Scratch Catering vs. Aimee Plesa, Bargos

On Sunday, March 19 at 1 p.m. the three winners from the three rounds on Saturday will battle it out to see who takes home the top prize.

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