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5 Chef Cook-Off competition a fiery success (updated)


5-Chef Challenge benefiting On Common Ground.

Photos by Andrea Laue

Is it possible to better the community through sampling delicious dishes and enjoying free beverages? On Common Ground (OCG) made it happen September 19, 2019, through their annual 5 Chef Cook-Off competition.

Five local chefs competed for the title of “Tastiest Dish.” However, there were limits to what the chefs could create. According to the rules and regulations on the OCG website, each chef must use items on the approved list of WIC and at least two items typically found in food pantry staples. Each chef posted their recipes modified for a slow cooker, hot plate, or steamer.

The purpose of the event is to educate the community on healthy, at-home cooking through the recipes from the chefs. The contest rules help to ensure ingredients are accessible to most so families can take the delicious dishes they liked from the competition back to their kitchens.

A very happy winner
of a loaf of Icky Bread
from the Great
Basin Brewery.

Chef James Garza of Great Basin Brewing Company and Chef Chuy of Mari Chuy’s Mexican Kitchen were returning competitors. The new participants included Chef Tina Hogue of The Burnt Orange Mobile Food Truck, Chef Jamie Woods of Liberty Food & Wine Exchange, and Chef Michelle Palmer of BJ’s Nevada Barbecue Company.

Each chef brought a unique take on their dish. No two plates were alike, and a variety of food was enjoyed by the crowd. There were also drinks and desserts available for free, but donations were appreciated.

Before entering the chef area, though, one had to pass through the front room. Tables with various non-profits, organizations, and charities were set up if you were interested in learning more. There was an incentive to talk to each one, though.

If you received a stamp from every booth and chef, then you were automatically entered into a raffle. This was a fun way to encourage the community to learn more about resources and opportunities available to them.

If your belly was starting to get full, there was a face-painting table, live music performed by Baker Street, and a long table full of amazing silent auction prizes. The activities were endless and the evening was a blast.

All chefs prepared tasty dishes and brought not only delicious food to their community, but also the education and inspiration to start cooking creative meals at home.

The awards went to:

  • The Grand Prize of Tastiest Dish, won by Chef Michelle Palmer of BJ’s Barbecue Company, is a cumulative total where each the 3 judges’ score counts for 1/4, with popular vote (of the people) counting the final quarter. Determinants: flavor, health & nutrition, ease of preparation, originality, presentation.
  • Best Overall, won by Chef James Garza of Great Basin Brewery, is awarded to the chef determined to best follow the intent of sharing a nutritious, single-appliance recipe made with whole foods affordable to all people.
  • Kids’ Favorite was won by Chef Cuy Gutierrez of Mari Chuy’s Mexican Kitchen.
  • People’s Favorite was awarded to Chef Jamie Woods of Liberty Food & Wine Exchange
  • The MacGyver Award, won by Chef Michelle Palmer of BJ’s Barbecue Company, is awarded to the chef determined to use the most ingenuity creating a nutritious meal using easily available materials.


For recipes from the chefs, future event details, or any information regarding One Common Ground, please visit http://www.ocgreno.org/.

UPDATE (September 24, 2019): The complete awards list, provided by On Common Ground, was added to this story.

Kylie Burns
Kylie Burns
Kylie Burns has been living in Reno for over two decades. She has a Bachelor of Arts degree in English and an MFA in Creative Writing. Her non-fiction work can also be found in Broadway Baby. When she isn't reviewing art and culture events in Reno, she's hogging the spotlight in karaoke or trying her hand at mixology.




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