From the food editor: Chefs cook up fundraiser in Aurora

Posted3/31/2015 6:00 AM

When I hear the words "food fight," what comes to mind are images of John Belushi slurping green Jell-O in "Animal House" before the cafeteria devolves into chaos. I anticipate no such shenanigans April 11 at the Family Counseling Service's Food Fight fundraiser.

Instead of mashed potatoes and burgers flying across the room, eight outstanding chefs from the suburbs and Chicago will put their best dish forward (think barbecue duck with braised collard greens and Malbec-braised pork shoulder and purple polenta) and guests will determine the People's Choice award winner. The chefs will prepare their small plates in front of the audience at stations throughout the ballroom at Piper's Banquets of Aurora, 1295 Butterfield Road, Aurora.


In addition, a panel of judges, including yours truly, will select the Food Fight Champion and that chef will win a vacation package. The winners will be announced that evening.

Competing chefs are: Terrell Cole of Dark Horse Pastries in Naperville, George Engel of The Citygate Grille in Naperville, Mario Garcia from The Chicago Hilton, Stephen Henry of The Lockwood Restaurant at Palmer House Hilton in Chicago, Oscar Herrera and Alex Cortez from Basil's Greek Dining in Naperville, Justin Nye of Biaggi's Ristorante Italiano in Naperville, Amaury Rosado of Chef Amaury's 33 West in Aurora and Chris Stehlin of The Shinto Experience in Naperville.

A cocktail reception starts at 5:30 p.m.; dinner follows at 6:45 p.m. The evening also includes live chamber music by Cambridge Studio, raffle prizes and a live auction with vacation and sports packages on the block. An assortment of desserts will be presented by French-born pastry chef Fabrice Francois Bouet. Dancing starts at 9 p.m. and the bar closes at 10:30 p.m.

Tickets cost $100 and can be reserved at Proceeds benefit Family Counseling Services that is celebrating 90 years of service to families in the Fox Valley community.

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Throwdown: Home cooks are needed for a food fight of another sort that will take place April 19 at Chicago's Lincoln Hall. After hosting successful macaroni and cheese and bacon cooking competitions in previous years, food promoter Matt Timms brings the Taco Takedown to town.

Here's how it works: Timms will provide cooks -- amateurs only -- with 250 mini flour or corn tortillas (provided by El Milagro). Cooks have to make enough filling and provide toppings/garnishes to fill the tortillas. Food must be prepped/cooked ahead of time, but will be plated on site.

"There are no rules; it could be anything in that taco," Timms says. "They can go traditional, or go crazy."

If that sounds like something you want to get in on, email him at The top taco makers will win cookware from Cuisinart, Wusthof, Analon or Microplane.

If that sounds like something you want to attend, head to, and click the "tickets" button. Tickets cost $20 and attendance is limited to 200 people, so don't delay.

• Contact Food Editor Deborah Pankey at or (847) 427-4524. Be her friend at or follow her on Pinterest, Instagram or Twitter @PankeysPlate.

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