Dining With Denise Neil

Can Evan Wessel outcook Schane Gross? We’re about to find out

Evan Wessel is ready to chop, dice and sautee.
Evan Wessel is ready to chop, dice and sautee. The Wichita Eagle

The annual Celebrity & Chef Cookoff, one of Wichita’s most fun and successful food fundraisers, is less than a week away.

This year’s event, the 16th annual, is set for 6 p.m. on Tuesday, June 13 at Intrust Bank Arena. It’s a fundraiser for the Orpheum Theatre that includes food, drink and a show: Six local celebrities are paired with six local chefs and asked to cook a gourmet dish on the spot in 45 minutes using ingredients provided, plus a secret ingredient.

The cast of competing characters is interesting as usual. Among the celebrities on the roster are former Shocker basketball star Evan Wessel, who now works in Wichita as a financial advisor; vice mayor Janet Miller; and Schane Gross, owner of The Anchor. Each will be paired with a local chef, and the names on the roster include Ben George, the executive chef at Intrust Bank Arena; Josh Rathbun, the executive chef at Siena Tuscan Steakhouse; and Stephanie Hand, the executive chef and cafe manager for Reverie Roasters.

I’m one of the event’s longtime judges, and I always leave stuffed but impressed by the abilities of the chefs and their helpers.

Tickets are $90 a person, and attendees also get food samples from a long list of restaurants, including Douglas Avenue Chop Shop, Noble House Hawaiian, Bagel Haus and more. The event also includes a live and silent auction.

For tickets, visit www.wichitaorpheum.com.

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