Next week’s Celeb & Chef Cookoff one of the fun fundraisers

The 11th annual Celebrity & Chef Cookoff, a popular fundraising event for the Orpheum Theatre, is just a week away, and I’m pretty excited for this one.

I get to be a judge this year, which means I’ll help my co-judges, local chef Tanya Tandoc and AIWF’s Beth Bower, choose the best cuisine prepared by teams of Wichita celebrities paired with Wichita chefs. (Above, see a video I co-produced from the 2010 event.)

Over the course of the year, I visit several foodie fundraisers, and this one is among the most fun. It’s full of good drinks, good food and — best of all — the excitement of watching local chefs in action. The celeb/chef teams compete “Iron Chef” style to come up with the best dish on the spot. A secret ingredient is revealed at the beginning of the contest.

This year’s chefs include Nathan Toubia of Bocconcini Italian Eatery, Peter Moretti of the Wichita Marriott, Kevin Derks of Newport Grill, Ben George of Tallgrass Country Club, Jake Lippincott of The Petroleum Club, John Fitzthum of The Candle Club, Marshall Roth of Treat America at Beech Activity Center and defending champ Jason Febres of Taste and See.

Among the celebs who’ve agreed to help cook: U.S. Rep. Mike Pompeo and Jody Horner, president of Cargill Meat Solutions. My bud Bonnie Bing will emcee.

The event, which also will include prize drawings and auctions, is scheduled for 6 p.m. next Tuesday, June 12, at the Wichita Marriott Hotel, 9100 E. Corporate Hills Drive. Tickets are $75 a person and available at the Orpheum’s website or by calling 316-263-0884.