This week’s blog is written by Kara Lough and Julia Udicious from Professor Coddington’s Journalism 201 course at Washington and Lee University.
LEXINGTON, VA – The second annual “Chopped” style cook-off, featuring local chefs, will occur on Sunday, Oct. 29, at 2 p.m., at Virginia Military Institute’s Marshall Hall.
The theme of this year’s Victory Chef Cook-Off is Cuisine de Casablanca and will feature traditional Moroccan ingredients, such as couscous, figs, exotic spices, and more.
All proceeds from the event benefit the George C. Marshall Foundation, helping to support the George C. Marshall Museum in Lexington.
Marshall, a WWII general, is widely recognized for his role in supporting the European Recovery Program, commonly known as the Marshall Plan. This year’s theme highlights Marshall’s involvement in the 1943 Casablanca Conference in Morocco.
This year’s event follows the success of last year’s inaugural cook-off, said Kathy Garvin, Director of Finance and Administration at the George C. Marshall Foundation. Garvin said last year’s event sold out days in advance, and ticket holders had a lot of great feedback.
“The most gratifying comments were that the cook-off is a totally unique experience, like nothing they had ever attended before,” said Garvin.
The competing chefs will cook an entree and two side dishes using only the provided Moroccan ingredients. This year’s chefs are Jenny Elmes, chef and owner of Full Circle Catering; Mike O’Byrne, executive chef of Bistro on Main; and Michael Pascarella, executive chef at Rocca Bar Ristorante.
One chef will take home the title of “Five-Star Chef.” This year’s judges are Matthew Paxton, publisher of the Lexington News-Gazette; Nathan Fountain, owner and chef at Mano Taqueria; and Marcia France, associate provost and chemistry professor at Washington & Lee University. France said she will consider creativity in her decision.
“I will be looking at how the chefs choose to incorporate these ingredients, how the dishes represent the theme, and how well they all fit together,” said France.
A new feature to this year’s event is an appetizer contest, in which ticket holders will get to choose a winner. The contestants are W&L Catering, Lexington Golf & Country Club, Kappa Alpha Order, Omicron Delta Kappa, Ladles & Linens, and the Culinary Arts students from Dabney S. Lancaster Community College.
“This is not an event in which the audience sits still and just watches. It is interactive,” said France. “Guests will be wandering around, sampling appetizers and voting for their favorite, taking part in various activities, and socializing with each other.”
Some of this year’s other activities include a Moroccan decorated selfie lounge and a children’s corner. Attendees will also have the opportunity to participate in a $1 raffle for the chance to taste the food prepared by the expert chefs and present a people’s choice award.
Tickets are on sale now, at $15 for adults and $5 for students. Purchase a ticket online here or by calling Kathy Garvin at at 540-463-7103. Free parking will be available at the event.