There are a few things that I simply cannot turn down: yummy food, cooking with my hubs, and giving back to our community. So when the Washington County Arts Council invited John & I to be Celebrity Chefs for their annual fundraiser event, we were thrilled to say yes.
The Washington County Arts Council hosts a unique fundraiser each year called The Art of Cooking. This event invites community members to a lavish evening of trying local couples’ favorite recipes prepared by the Fountain Head Country Club kitchen experts. The celebrity chef couples demonstrate their recipe in the kitchen, as if on a cooking show, and then community members in attendance are served each recipe plated at their table. This event perfectly ties together what we all love about cooking, which is putting a unique spin on a recipe, and truly showing the audience that there is an art behind the food. [Author’s note: the art may in fact be the ability to not set each other on fire in the cooking process.]
Over the course of six months, five Celebrity Chef couples met to discuss what our version of this event would look like. Over monthly meetings with dinner and drinks, we brought our favorite recipes to the table (literally) and together concocted a full-course dinner menu that would flow and keep guests’ pallets intrigued. The menu included passed hors d’oeuvres during the cocktail hour, followed by an appetizer and soup before the entrée and two side dishes, finished off with a delectable dessert.
The menu items chosen by the Celebrity Chef couples unfolded as such:
Ceviche – Chef’s Sam & Dana Wright
Pumpkin Soup – Chef’s Steve and Susan Wood-Haines
Pul Ko-Kee Korean beef – Chef’s Art & Marianne Schneider
Mushroom Ragu over Handmade Pappardelle – Chef’s Dale & Pat McCleary
Brussels, Bacon & Bourbon – Chef’s John & Kelsey Lorman
Each course was perfectly paired with a champagne or wine chosen by the wine aficionado Mr. Mike Johnston. Local celebrity emcee Lou Scally and & lovely co-host Heather Guessford entertained the 160-person-audience between courses and introduced each of the celebrity chef couples.
Not only did the chef couples have to demonstrate their talents on screen in front of the audience, but we each also tried to come up with something that made them laugh before they enjoyed the meal (the wine will help with the morale of the group as well, am I right?) This included getting mic’d up and staged in the prep-kitchen, and mixing together our recipes as if we we each had our own show on the Food Network. With a quick change of set between each couple, we were thrown into the spotlight with hopes of not dropping, spilling or cursing (all things that happen in my kitchen regularly). Each couple took a fun spin with their time on-screen, including an apron that said “This Shit is Going to Taste Delicious”, a visit from “Hillary Clinton,” and in our case – two extra shots of bourbon to make our recipe taste extra special. [Author’s note: The shot of bourbon made me turn away from the camera for a split second, but I was trying to spare the audience of my ‘party-girl-in-a-bar-taking-shots’ face. It was really for their own good.] Plus, there was bacon in our recipe (because, duh – my husband won’t eat his veggies otherwise); I think anyone could agree that brussel sprouts, bacon and bourbon could very well be three of the best B’s in the kitchen. [Author’s note: Oh, also bread, let’s all take a minute to appreciate that ‘B,’ too.]
As the last couple of the night, I had hoped our shots of bourbon on camera would be enough to keep the audience entertained (especially through their previous three pairings of wine). Not to mention I started our segment with a selfie – the true key of success in any kitchen. Though I’m no critic, of food or comedic sketches, I believe each of the couples entertained the audience and left their pallets satisfied.
Though we all had a great time, made some new friends, and found some new recipes, the big ‘win’ for the celebrity chefs was that we were able to attract an attendance of 160, raising $20,000 for the Washington County Arts Council.
It was a night of eating, laughing and drinking (over-indulging in at least two of three areas, I might add) and most importantly a night of giving back to the arts in our community. Thank you to the Arts Council for having us, and for giving me the opportunity to feel like Rachael Ray for an evening.
[Final author’s note: After-dinner drinks at the bar across the street are always a good idea…. in theory. You may pay for that decision the next day. See the group that made it to the end, and literally closed down the bar, with us below.]