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Local chefs compete for March of Dimes

BY TIFFANY HUNG | FEBRUARY 25, 2009 7:39 AM

Click here to view an exclusive photo slideshow from the event.

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Armed with all different types of citrus — blood oranges, limes, and lemons — three local chefs showcased on Tuesday their special ingredient in a medley of dishes, including orange-flavored chocolate cake and key-lime marinated shrimp and crab.

The event was part of a $4,000 package auctioned off at an annual March of Dimes Signature Chefs Auction in November 2008. The auction raised more than $130,000 during that fundraiser, which has been held every year since 1989.

Tuesday’s dinner was a quasi-Iron-Chef competition among three local restaurant chefs and good friends — James Adrian from Atlas World Grill, Tracy Tonning from Blackstone, and Seth Hershey from Vesta.

They served nine courses to a group of around 20 locals, donating their time and talent to the effort.
Tonning has been involved with the March of Dimes — an organization dedicated to babies’ health — as chef chairman since the beginning of the Signature Chefs Auction. His active participation prompted the other chefs to get involved.

“I think it’s a great program because [the organization] helps babies who are helpless,” he said. “I’m lucky I have three healthy children, so I want to see what I can do to help the cause.”

Hershey said he has supported March of Dimes since opening his co-owned restaurant less than a year ago.

“I just thought it was a great function to go to and donate to,” he added.

Diners also feasted on cured salmon, diver scallops, duck ravioli, and raspberry soufflé served with margarita sorbet, among many other dishes. Each recipe included a hint of citrus.

The battle’s focus originated from the chefs’ decision to choose a versatile ingredient — something that would be easily incorporated into different parts of the meal.

Competition between the three was a friendly one — with no winner announced — and all three chefs continually lent help in preparation for each course.

“It’s not necessarily who wins or loses,” Tonning said. “There’s a lot of camaraderie among the three of us.”

In addition to helping support March of Dimes efforts, the friendly battle was also an opportunity to showcase talent by the chefs and play around with “extraordinary foods” that aren’t used in everyday cooking, Hershey said.

Both March of Dimes and the chefs are certain they will continue to feature this package in the Signature Chefs Auction. All three chefs agreed the event went well.

“I think we had a fabulous event,” Adrian said. “I think all the chefs that participated did an extraordinary job.”

Hershey agreed.

“Seeing people’s satisfaction is what drives me to cook,” he added.

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