It's the ultimate throwback comfort food — ground beef, formed into the shape of a loaf, slathered in ketchup and baked.
Despite its 1950s kitschiness, meat loaf has survived in home kitchens and on the menus of diners and upscale restaurants everywhere.
On Saturday, meat loaf will be the beefy centerpiece of a cook-off and fundraiser at The Anchor, 1109 E. Douglas.
The second annual Loaf Off will pit home cooks and restaurant chefs against one another in an attempt to create the best loaf of meat and raise money for the Make-A-Wish Foundation, an organization that provides wishes for children facing life-threatening illnesses.
For $7 a person, meat loaf fans can attend the competition to watch the cooks in action, then sample their creations. The fee also gets attendees Anchor-produced sides such as green beans and mashed potatoes.
Last year was the first for the unique fundraiser, an idea that Make-A-Wish communications coordinator Lori Stone borrowed from a meat loaf fundraiser she attended in Lawrence.
"It was fun and outside-the-box. It wasn't a run or a golf tournament or a gala," she said.
Last year's event drew seven competitors and about 70 samplers. Home cook Mondy Benton took the coveted people's choice award with an old-fashioned recipe that included crushed soda crackers, Worcestershire sauce and Heinz 57.
Benton will be back in the competition this year, along with 11 contestants who include several other home cooks, a few local media celebrities and Wichita chefs such as David Wirebaugh of the Hyatt and Joe Parten of Carrabba's.
A panel of judges, which includes local chef Tanya Tandoc and Wichita Eagle columnist Carrie Rengers, will choose the best meat loaf and a best-of-show winner. Attendees will vote to name the people's choice winner.
Stone is hoping that this year's event attracts 100 people — and her goal is that the competition eventually becomes as popular and established as local chili and barbecue cook-offs.
"Meat loaf is kind of a comfort food that brings back childhood memories — kind of like our wishes do," she said. "We hope they bring comfort and memories for our wish kids."