Kiss-Off Cancer Cook-Off educates and delights diners

Diana Daghofer
By Diana Daghofer
May 3rd, 2011

Rossland chefs and community cooks alike rose to the challenge in the first annual Kiss-Off Cancer Cook-Off, held on Sunday, May 1. Hungry guests and Prevent Cancer Now, a national organization aimed at eliminating the preventable causes of cancer, were the beneficiaries in the town’s biggest and healthiest gourmet pot-luck dinner.   Four celebrity chefs from The Gypsy at Red, Drift Izakaya, The Flying Steamshovel and Gabriella’s (Goldtown Dining at the Prestige Inn) wowed diners and the judges with their dishes, crammed with anti-cancer ingredients. Mike Brandt, Rossland native and chef-owner of the Gypsy at Red, took away top honours for his meal, featuring a vegetable samosa appetizer,  garam masala-rubbed salmon and halibut “Napolean”, and a yummy dessert of peanut butter nougat topped with a dark chocolate ganache served with fresh berries. The Gypsy also captured the hearts (and stomachs) of guests, receiving the Consumer’s Choice Award for all three courses.   Individual dishes were also recognized by the judges. Best appetizer was awarded to Gabriella for her salmon and arugula pizza. Best main course went to Tyler Handy from Drift Izakaya for his fresh herb-crusted salmon, served with beet salad topped with spinach walnut pesto. The Gypsy at Red took top honours for the peanut butter nougat dessert mentioned above.   Community cooks entered their anti-cancer dishes in a competition voted on by guests. Jon Turner won the appetizer category for his “Vegetable Sliders”. Anne-Marie Sterpin took away the best main course award, with her Capetown Fruit and Vegetable Currie. Kimberley Pegg’s dark chocolate-covered strawberries, winner of the best dessert award, were a hot item among guests.    The panel of judges took their job of reviewing each of the Celebrity Chef’s dishes and their cancer-preventive ingredients very seriously. According to judge Dawn Manning, of Bear Country Kitchen, who is trained as a dietitian, “The dishes were creative and delicious, as well as healthy, so we had a very tough job – never mind the tight waistbands when we finished!” Other judges were Jill Austin, food preparation instructor at Rossland Secondary School; Jon Turner, a Red-Seal Cordon Bleu chef and Chris Orr, of Kootenay Coop in Nelson.    The 70 guests who attended the Kiss-Off Cancer Cook-Off also left the event satisfied and raving over the excellent food and prizes. Many said they are looking forward to next year’s event.   Prevent Cancer Now (PCN) organizers were very impressed with the support from the community and local businesses. The restaurants donated hundreds of dollars in time and ingredients. Century 21 underwrote many of the expenses, and Kootenay Coop and Endless Harvest donated baskets of organic products. Dozens of local businesses and artists contributed prizes and items for the silent auction. Keeping expenses low meant the event netted about $4000 towards cancer prevention projects in the West Kootenays and beyond.

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