Febres commits a Celeb & Chef Cookoff three-peat

Tanya Tandoc, right, announces Taste & See's Jason Febres the winner of the cookoff.

As I stated earlier, the Celebrity & Chef Cookoff, a benefit for the Orpheum that happens each summer at the Corporate Hills Marriott, is one of the must fun fundraisers put on in Wichita.

I was a judge for last night’s event, along with Chef Tanya Tandoc and Beth Bower of the American Institute of Wine and Food, and our job was hard. We had to taste the dishes come up with on the spot in 45 minutes by eight teams of local chefs paired with well-known Wichitans, who worked as their sous chefs.

The experiment Febres conducted in these test tubes was a total success.

Though we didn’t want to be predictable, the dish prepared by Taste & See’s Chef Jason Febres was definitely the best. He’s already won the past two years, so we tried everything we could think of to talk ourselves out of giving him the title again. But we couldn’t. He created a four-course tasting that included a fried egg/scallop/bacon combo and a test tube gazpacho shooter. His flavors were all clean and fabulous.

We also loved the dishes prepared by The Petroleum Club’s Jake Lippincott, who along with partner Kelly Uran of Bank of the West, made a delectable salmon and scallop duo. And the dish by Kevin Derks of Newport Grill included some amazing fried potato and brussels sprouts shavings that I’d love to eat again. His partner was Splurge magazine publisher Jody Klein.

The event also included plentiful samples of dishes from restaurants all over Wichita, including Lotus Leaf Cafe & , The Anchor, Cero’s, Two Brothers BBQ and more.

Here are a few pictures from the event.

Congressman Mike Pompeo, right, was paired with Marshall Roth, the executive chef of Treat America at Beech Activity Center.

Splurge magazine publisher Jody Klein, right, and her partner chef, Kevin Derks of Newport Grill, prepared another of our favorite dishes.

The judges: Tanya Tandoc, Beth Bower and me.

Bocconcini's chef Nathan Toubia with his partner, the WSU Foundation's Elizabeth King. The duo prepared a homemade ravioli.

Event emcees Dick Honeyman and his wife Bonnie Bing.

The Petroleum Club's Jake Lippincott, with his partner Kelly Uran, made a delicious salmon/scallop duo.

Tallgrass Country Club chef Ben George.

Mudbugs, meat pies and battling chefs

By night, the lovely Mudbug Erin plays triangle. By day, she eats crawfish.

Several very fun food-related events are on my calendar, and I think you should add them to yours, too.

One is just around the corner. Mudbug Madness, the annual Prairie Pines event that features Cajun tunes by the Mudbugs Cajun & Zydeco Band, an all-you-can-eat crawfish boil and a Cajun buffet provided by Two Brothers BBQ, is April 27 and 28. That’s NEXT WEEKEND! Dinner is served from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m., and a cash bar is available. The Mudbugs perform from 8 to 10:30 p.m. at Prairie Pines, 4055 N. Tyler, in Maize. My crew and I are planning to be there Saturday night. Tickets are $32 at www.prairiepines.com or by calling 316-303-2037.

The following weekend is the annual St. Mary’s Mediterranean Festival. It’s put on at St. Mary Orthodox Christian Church at 344 S. Martinson and is scheduled for May 5 and 6. The public dinner and bake sale features a la carte servings of authentic Lebanese, Greek and Serbian foods such as kibbe, baklava and meat pies. It’s from 4 to 8 p.m. May 5 and 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. May 6. Customers also can preorder items until Monday at stmarywichita.org. 

At the Celebrity & Chef cookoff with a couple of fun girls two years ago.

Then, in June, the Celebrity & Chef Cookoff is back. I’m scheduled to serve as a judge at this annual fundraiser for The Orpheum, which pits teams of local chefs paired with local celebrities against each other in a cooking competition. Attendees sample food and drink and watch the battle go down. This year’s event is at 6 p.m. June 12 at the Wichita Marriott, 9100 E. Corporate Hills Drive. Tickets are $75 a person at www.wichitaorpheum.com.

Death by Chocolate: I didn’t die

Velvet Cream Bakery's Kelly Duggan, right, is on a roll lately. Not only did she win the top prize at Cocktails & Cookies last month, but she also got judges' choice at Death By Chocolate.

Saturday’s sixth annual Death by Chocolate event was, as always, a good time, even though my sugar crash was pretty severe.

Vendors go all-out for the event, which allows attendees to sample gazillions of chocolate creations, all beautifully displayed and adhering to a pirate theme. It’s a tad overwhelming, not only for the eyes but for the digestive system.

I served on a very interesting panel of judges assembled by the very interesting Joe Stumpe that included Tanya Tandoc of Tanya’s Soup Kitchen, Bonnie Aeschliman of Cooking at Bonnie’s Place, and Chuck Giles, the owner of Neighbors Bar & Grill.

We were pretty unanimous on the winners.

Judges’ Choice went to the amazing Kelly Duggan, owner of Velvet Cream Bakery. She also was the winner at Cocktails & Cookies last month, and it’s becoming apparent she knows her sweets. Her Death by Chocolate entry was an array of chewy and perfect macaroons in several flavors, including orange and lime margarita, Limoncello and Mayan chocolate.

Cocoa Dolce, which brought rum shots encased in chocolate, won not only “Most Creative Use of Chocolate,” but they also won the People’s Choice award.

Best Presentation went to Buckingham Cakes, which put out a beautiful display of beer-infused mini-cupcakes. (I tried one flavored like Blue Moon, one of my favorite brews.) And the Best Savory award, given to one of the few vendors offering non-dessert items, went to Two Brothers BBQ, which offered a delicious barbecue sandwich served with chocolate sauce.

Here are a few more pics from the event, courtesy of my date, photog Jaime Green.

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Hibiscus and Hurricanes at Botanica

With a title like that, there’s really almost no doubt where I’ll be tonight.

The Mudbugs Cajun & Zydeco Band will be performing at Botanica tonight as part of the gardens’ “Tuesdays on the Terrace” series. The music lasts from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., and Two Brother’s BBQ will be selling food. There will also be a bar serving fabulous cocktails such as hurricanes.

Attendees also are free to bring picnics, chairs and blankets. Dancing is required. Not really. But it’s recommended.

Admission is $7 for adults, $6 for seniors and $5 for ages 3 to 12. See you there.