Dining With Denise Neil

Wichita chef cookoff yields fabulous food, Super Car Guy antics

The annual Celebrity Chef Cookoff, a fundraiser for the Orpheum Theatre, happened last night, and it was as entertaining as it was delicious.

The event, now in its 15th year, paired eight Wichita chefs with eight well-known personalities, and the duos were challenged to create a gourmet dish in one hour using a pantry of provided ingredients.

The big winner for the event, which happened on the floor of Intrust Bank Arena, was YaYa’s Eurobistro’s Paul Guerrero, who was paired with the always-entertaining Super Car Guy pitchman Aaron Wirtz. The two created a pork chop masterpiece topped with a bacon jam and a sweet roasted apple slice. My co-judges Guy Bower and Chester’s Bobby Lane and I chose it as the best dish, though the others were all pretty outstanding. You can watch a video of their crazy antics along with this post.

Second place went to the team of the Candle Club’s Jeremiah Harvey and partner Patricia McDonnell of the Wichita Art Museum. They prepared a bone-in tomahawk rib eye that was positively prehistoric. They topped it with some rosemary shrimp and veggies.

And in third place was Jeremy Wade, who revealed to many of his fellow chefs on Tuesday that he was leaving Siena Tuscan Steakhouse to take a job as a territory manager with Seattle Fish Co. His partner was Sierra Scott, and they prepared a perfect bite of lamb next to a perfect slice of spicy scallop.

The event also included several tasting stations set up around the edges of the arena floor, where attendees feasted on samples while the chefs competed. We were also asked to pick a winner from those booths, and we chose the Woodfire Grille at the Kansas Star Casino, which was offering a perfect pork taco alongside a shooter of pineapple gazpacho.