Dining With Denise Neil

Next week’s Celebrity & Chef Cookoff has fun cast of characters

Chef Ben George won last year’s Celebrity & Chef Cookoff.
Chef Ben George won last year’s Celebrity & Chef Cookoff. The Wichita Eagle

The annual Celebrity & Chef Cookoff, one of Wichita’s most fun and successful food fundraisers, is coming up next week.

This year’s event, the 15th annual, is set for 6 p.m. on Tuesday, June 14 at Intrust Bank Arena. It’s a fundraiser for the Orpheum Theatre that includes food, drink and a show: Eight local celebrities are paired with eight local chefs and asked to cook a gourmet dish on the spot in 45 minutes using ingredients provided, plus a secret ingredient. (Last year’s was pineapple.)

I’m a longtime judge for the event, and this year, I’ll be joined by co-judges Bobby Lane of Chester’s Chophouse and local wine expert Guy Bower.

The cast of competing characters is pretty interesting this year. Among the celebrities are Aaron Wirtz, the wacky star of the Super Car Guys commercials, television host Sierra Scott, well known hair stylist Eric Fisher and Andrew Gough, owner of Reverie Coffee Roasters. The chef list includes regular competitors Paul Freimuth of the Hyatt, Ben George of Intrust Bank Arena (last year’s winner), Jeremy Wade of Siena Tuscan Steakhouse and Luciano Mattola of Luciano’s in Mulvane.

Tickets are $90 a person, and attendees also get food samples from a long list of restaurants, including Bob & Luigi’s, Molino’s, Fork & Fennel, Kanai sushi, Delano Barbecue Company, Sweet Basil, YaYa’s Eurobistro and more. The event also includes a live and silent auction.

For tickets, visit www.wichitaorpheum.com.