Local chefs battle Thursday for which bite is best

Samantha Hill

Park County chefs must chop, marinade and simmer their way to the championship in this year’s Artful Bites: Clash of the Chefs on Thursday.

The third annual event to raise money for Park County Friends of the Arts is a competition between five people working in local kitchens who must prepare a dish incorporating one mystery ingredient and serving it to a crowd of 80 people. During dessert, the audience votes on who will be crowned the next champion said PCFA board member Gwen Strachan.

Chefs from the Sport, Feedlot 49 at the Pop Stand, Cafe Fresh, the Old Saloon and Pine Creek Lodge will be participating in the event.

The last two years the competition have seen chefs from Fay’s Cafe, Pinky’s Cafe, Chico Hot Springs Resort dining room and others.

Strachan said that not much has changed for this years competition except moving to the Shane Center because PCFA was hoping to attract a larger crowd.

“We needed more room so we moved over the Shane Center,” she said.

Last year, the event raised $3,000 for the PCFA and they are hoping to earn more this year. The money will go toward renovating the Danforth building, especially fixing the roof. The group is hoping to improve the building and use the upstairs space for new artistic projects later this year.

Head Chef of Cafe Fresh at Livingston HealthCare, Jonathan Nelson is new to the competition but decided to throw his hat in the ring.

Working for the cafe for the last year, Nelson said he has also been teaching classes at the Livingston Food Resource Center so he said his participation is a good way to show his students what working in a real kitchen is like.

“ It will be good for people in the area to see what it takes and some of the chaos that happens,” he said.

After working in the industry on and off for the past 13 years, Nelson said he is fairly confident in serving 80 plates of food and feels the mystery ingredient won’t trip him up.

Strachan said the mystery ingredients are Montana-based products. In the past they have used lentils and whisky, both from companies within the state.

Doors to Clash of the Chefs will open at 5:30 p.m. at the Shane Lalani Center for the Arts, with cooking beginning at 6:30 p.m. Tickets are $45 and are still available at The b.Hive Artisan Coop or at 222-5996.