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Hot St. Albert chefs to support Culinary Challenge

Fundraiser offers gourmet food, ice carving
HOT STUFF — Some 150 guests will be at the Mosaic Centre in Edmonton on May 11, 2023, for the Hot Chefs, Cool bEats event. Guests will enjoy gourmet food and entertainment as they seek to raise $30,000 for the High School Culinary Challenge. CANADIAN CULINARY FUND/Photo

Some of St. Albert’s hottest chefs will be in Edmonton next Thursday to try and cook up some cash for a regional high school culinary competition.

Some 150 food aficionados will be at the Mosaic Centre/Workshop Eatery in Edmonton May 11 for the Hot Chefs, Cool bEats culinary event. Organized by the Canadian Culinary Fund, the event is a fundraiser for the High School Culinary Challenge — an annual contest where Edmonton-area high school chefs compete to make gourmet meals under a tight time limit.

Hot Chefs, Cool bEats is a celebration of the Edmonton area’s culinary industry where guests can enjoy conversation, entertainment, and delicious food with some of the region’s most talented chefs, said Peter Keith, chair of the Canadian Culinary Fund and a Paul Kane graduate. Last held in 2019, the event’s April 2020 edition was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The decision to cancel that was the first domino to fall in my life in the COVID lockdown era,” Keith said, and the start of many challenging years for the restaurant industry.

“It’s been a real roller-coaster.”

Keith said area chefs have revived the event this year to try and raise $30,000 in scholarships for the Culinary Challenge, which offers its participants full-ride scholarships to the cook apprenticeship program at the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology.

Foodie heaven

Guests at this year’s event will be able to sample 15 different gourmet dishes prepared by Edmonton area chefs such as Landen Swick of XIX St. Albert, former St. Albert resident Scott Downey of Butternut Tree, and former Legal resident Jacqueline Jacek of Jacek Chocolate Couture.

Chef Blair Lebsack said he and his crew at RGE ROAD restaurant (which sources many of its ingredients from the St. Albert/Sturgeon County region) will serve up a nose-to-tail Berkshire pork croquette at the event — essentially a bite-sized breaded and fried pig.

Lebsack said his restaurant specializes in buying entire animals and showing how every part of them, from the nose to the tail to the bones, has a use. For this event, he and his team will roast an entire pig, mix up the meat from its various parts, and turn it into croquettes.

“When you roast the whole pig, everything becomes soft and delicious,” he said, whether it be from the nose or the tail or the hock.

Keith said guests will also get to listen to tunes spun by DJ Jordan Helm, take in Polynesian dancing by Aloha Dancers YEG, and bid on an illustration that artist Giselle Denis will paint live at the event. Chef Steve Buzak of the Royal Glenora Club will attempt to carve an intricate ice sculpture outdoors at the event before his medium liquefies in the blazing summer sun.

“It’s always a race against the clock,” Keith said of ice carving, adding that the speed was part of the fun.

Lebsack encouraged guests to come out and support young local chefs.

“All the food is going to be delicious.”

Tickets to the event are $120. Visit for details.

Kevin Ma

About the Author: Kevin Ma

Kevin Ma joined the St. Albert Gazette in 2006. He writes about Sturgeon County, education, the environment, agriculture, science and aboriginal affairs. He also contributes features, photographs and video.
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