Last year saw the premier of an interactive, food-filled event that showcased and celebrated the creativity of local chefs as they crafted unique dishes from a set of mystery ingredients.
The “Diced in Dayton Chef’s Challenge” had Chefs transform unpredictable ingredients into something new and delicious with each chef receiving a mystery box with a variety of ingredients they had to craft a dish from.
The 2022 inaugural event raised more than $20,000 to support Miami Valley Meals (MVM, https://miamivalleymeals.org). The concept of the challenge is similar to what the chefs at MVM face each day when they transform recovered foods into hearty, chef-inspired meals to be distributed to a network of partners serving the hungry in the Miami Valley free of charge. They currently distribute thousands of meals each week with the majority of meal ingredients coming from donated foods.
I had the opportunity to attend and judge the event last year and by the end of the night just one of those many talented chefs was crowned champion and that chef was the incredibly talented Katy Evans, Executive Chef of Coldwater Cafe. Both guests and judges, including this writer, awarded her top prize in the event.
“My ingredients were pork loin, quinoa, zucchini and yellow squash, and red plums. The dish I made I called ‘Pork Toast’ - I dry-brined and roasted the pork low and slow, let it rest to a perfect medium, and thinly sliced it. I then made quinoa focaccia bread,” said Evans during an interview last year. “I cooked the quinoa, cooled it down and mixed it into our focaccia dough, and then rolled it more quinoa for a nice crunch, and topped it with rosemary and sea salt. I then shredded my zucchini and squash, pressed all the water out, and cooked it with lots of fresh herbs, shallots, and garlic. Cooled it down, whipped some good European butter and folded in brie and zucchini mixture. One of our signature sauces we make is our Hot Pepper Jelly. I cooked the red plums down with some nectarines and made a slightly different kind of hot pepper jelly. I think this one is even better.I toasted the quinoa bread, slathered it with the zucchini butter, piled on the deliciously moist pork, and topped it with red plum hot pepper jelly, and a little locally grown micro arugula. Killer.”
It was killer and a terrific reminder to never take restaurants and the talented kitchen staff that think and innovate all day behind the scenes for granted. I’m looking forward to judging once again and seeing all of the new talent and creations that will be on display.
Participating chefs for this years event taking place Sept. 19 at Top of the Market in downtown Dayton include: Gavin St. Denis (Corner Kitchen), Patrick Thompson (redBerry), Ashley Ashbrook (Blind Dogs), Jasmine Brown (De’Lish Cafe), Gail Corrado Okafor (Bella Sorella Pizza Co), Nate Lansangan (KungFu BBQ), Waver Howard (Creative Delights Catering), Santiago Herrera (Napales), Gerald Richardson (Rich Taste Catering), Aaron Allen (Silas Creative Kitchen) and Matt Thomas (Ellie’s Restaurant).
“Miami Valley Meals takes a chef’s approach to solving hunger, so it was only right that we got local chefs involved when planning our fundraiser. This event is really a celebration of the creativity of chefs and highlights how with just a little extra time and care, a talented chef can turn random foods into something great,” said Taylor Naragon, Marketing and Development Director for Miami Valley Meals. “If you love the show Chopped, you’ll definitely want to come out and support this event. The concept of this event is really centered around what our (MVM) chefs do each day in the kitchen, which is taking random donated foods that would otherwise be wasted and turning them into something delicious and nutritious to help people get through their day. We distribute meals free of charge to around 45 nonprofit organizations serving those in need each month, so this event supports that work. All the proceeds benefit Miami Valley Meals so that we can continue providing this service for our community.”
According to Naragon online ticket sales will be closing late Monday night on Sept. 18 and can still be purchased at https://fly.causepilot.com/p2g/diced.
A $75 general admission ticket comes with a 6 p.m. entry, samples of eight dishes and the opportunity to cast a vote for your favorite chef. A $150 VIP ticket comes with a 5:30 p.m. early entry and happy hour, two drink tickets, access to reserved VIP seating, sample taste from the 11 featured chefs plus a bonus taste, the opportunity to cast a vote for your favorite chef, a deck of Dayton Foodie cards and a random chance to taste and judge in the final round.
“This event was a real hit last year and I think this year will be even better. We’ve got 11 great chefs representing from all over the Dayton area, and some really great raffle items. This event is a perfect way to show support for the community during Hunger Action Month,” said Naragon.
Contact this contributing writer at email@example.com.
How to go
What: Diced in Dayton: Chefs’ Challenge
When: 6 p.m. Sept. 19
Where: Top of the Market, 32 Webster St., Dayton
Cost: $75 and VIP tickets for $150
More information: https://miamivalleymeals.org/diced-in-dayton