Wichita’s well-established foodie events have some new competition this year.
The usual chef-cookoffs that dot the calendar throughout the summer and early fall are now being joined by new food-focused fundraisers dreamed up by local charities – a “Restaurant Week” and a burger competition among them.
Following are some new and classic food-focused events that are coming up in the next several months.
Celebrity & Chef Cookoff, 6 p.m. Tuesday, Wichita Marriott Hotel: This event, a fundraiser for the Orpheum now in its 12th year, keeps growing in popularity – to the point this year that it sold out. It pairs local celebrities such as Wichita State University women’s basketball coach Jody Adams and Wichita District Attorney Mark Bennett with local chefs, including Nathan Toubia from Bocconcini and Kevin Dirks from Newport Grill. As attendees watch, the teams create dishes on the spot, hoping to impress a panel of judges. Meanwhile, those in attendance can enjoy food samples from various stations. This is the first year that the event has sold out, said Jennifer Wright, president of the Orpheum. She’s expecting 450 people to attend. For information about the event, visit www.wichitaorpheum.com/
Wichita Restaurant Week, June 21-30: The Boys & Girls Clubs of South Central Kansas is teaming up with Go Wichita and the Kansas Restaurant & Hospitality Association to put on a “Restaurant Week” in Wichita, and they have about 20 local restaurants signed up as participants, including Chester’s Chophouse, AVI Seabar & Chophouse, Siena Tuscan Steakhouse and more.
Throughout the week, people can visit one of the restaurants and have a $7 breakfast, a $15 lunch or a $30 dinner. Ten percent of the price of each meal will be donated to the Boys & Girls Clubs.
Some restaurant will offer all three meals. Others will offer only one or two. Some will prepare off-the-menu specials. Others will prepare samplings from their menus.
Restaurant weeks are big deals in big cities, where many of the more expensive, trendy, hard-to-get-into restaurants agree to spend a week offering prix fixe meals to participants. A prix fixe (price fixed) meal is a set, multicourse meal that costs one price. About 30 big cities around the country, including Dallas, New York and Chicago, put on popular restaurant weeks.
For a list of the participating restaurants and what each is serving, visit wichitarestaurantweek.com.
Iron Chef Cookoff, Aug. 30, Old Town Farm & Art Market: This annual cookoff always closes out the year for the Farm & Art Market and pits local chefs against each other, cooking live with a secret ingredient from the market that they learn about just as the competition begins. Though the roster is not yet set, last year’s competitors included the Hyatt’s Paul Freimuth, Bocconcini’s Nathan Toubia, Ben George of Beechcraft Activity Center and the Flying Stove’s Rob Schauf, who won the title.
This will be the 11th year for the event.
Zoobilee, Sept. 7, Sedgwick County Zoo: One of the biggest foodie happenings in Wichita every year is Zoobilee, an event that fills the Sedgwick County Zoo with restaurants, adult beverage vendors and well-dressed attendees ready to party. Zoobilee is the only day of the year that the zoo closes so that vendors can set up. It also features live bands stationed throughout the zoo, and this year’s headliner is the Mudbugs Cajun & Zydeco Band. Tickets are $125 a person and are available at www.scz.org
Battle of the Burger, Sept. 14, Old Cowtown Museum: The event, being planned by KETCH as a fundraiser, will be at the Old Cowtown Museum and asks restaurateurs to bring their burgers to battle it out, both for a judges’ award and for a people’s choice title. At the moment, the organization is recruiting restaurants to participate and so far have signed up Fizz, Mooyah, Sienna Tuscan Steakhouse and The Anchor. The event will include an official judges’ panel as well as a people’s choice award, and the event will include a car show, live music, line dancing, a silent auction and stagecoach rides. Admission will be $35 and will include burger samples, pie samples, beer and all the activities. Restaurants who want to sign up should call 316-383-8889.