Cumberland Times-News

April 7, 2013

Chefs of Steel pits pros against ACM students

Chefs of Steel pits pros against ACM students

Angie Brant
Cumberland Times-News

— CUMBERLAND — For nearly 30 years, the Western Maryland Food Bank has been tackling the problem of hunger in the tri-state area.

Since its inception in 1983, the food bank has evolved from a one-day-a-month program to a daily operation that has helped feed families in need through partnerships with more than 100 community organizations and programs.

Through these partnerships, the Western Maryland Food Bank is able to offer assistance to more than 13,000 individuals each month. The work is completed by a paid staff of just five people and a corps of volunteers logging thousands of hours each month.

Executive Director Diana Loar said the food bank could not accomplish its work without these volunteers, who maintain operations, inspect food items and prepare donations for distribution.

The food bank is able to maintain operations through donations and fundraising efforts.

According to Cathy Carpenter, board member and fundraising chair, the organization’s signature fundraising event, Chefs of Steel, is based on Food Network’s hit show “The Iron Chef.”

Now in its eighth year, Chefs of Steel closely mirrors the suspense and drama of the hit television show, complete with two competing teams, a chairman, and of course, a secret ingredient. Hosts for this year’s event will be Amanda Mangan and Shane Riggs.

Nicknamed “The Battle to Fight Hunger,” the 2013 event will be April 15 at the Culinaire Café on the downtown Cumberland mall and will once again showcase the talents of Allegany College of Maryland culinary students battling a team of area professional chefs in quest for the championship title and trophy — a  steel stock pot.

The “home team” is comprised of ACM students Alison Jordan, Rebekah Yarbrough, Andee Dowling, Sam Robey and Bill Edwards. These students are determined to defend their 2012 team title with a repeat win over the “visitors team.” The visitors team will feature professional chefs Larry Roby, Aaron James, Brian Covell, Jason Fickes and Adam Murray.

Chairman for the evening is Augustus Leckerbissne, otherwise known as Jeff Conley. Each team will create five dishes to be judged by a panel, and the winner will be selected based on plating, appearance, creativity and taste. Each dish must contain the secret ingredient, which is not revealed until the day of the event.

“The issue of hunger in this area continues to grow with each passing year and as we continue to face a weakened economy,” Loar said.

The Western Maryland Food Bank, a member of the County United Way, offers assistance in Allegany and Garrett counties. In addition to providing food and support for interfaith pantries, church pantries and on-site feeding locations, the food bank supports several programs that help provide food for families and individuals in need.

Loar said tickets are still available for the eighth annual Chefs of Steel and promises the evening will be “an exciting culinary adventure” and an opportunity to help those in need.

For more information, visit www.wmdfoodbank.org. Tickets to Chefs of Steel are available by calling the food bank at 301-722-2797 or ACM’s Culinaire Café at 301-784-5413.

Contact Angie Brant at abrant@times-news.com.