Sparks were flying at the Carlu Saturday night as notoriously blue-mouthed celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay whipped the city’s finest culinary forces into a frenzy in his role as moderator of Chef’s Challenge: The Ultimate Battle for a Cure.
The fundraising effort, which raised a full $1.1 million for Mount Sinai’s breast and ovarian cancer research, featured five cooking teams, each led by a professional chef. The hotshot quintet—David Rocco, Mark McEwan, Jamie Kennedy, Massimo Capra and Lynn Crawford—squared off against each other in a three-course cooking contest sprung from Ramsay’s own recipes. Their teams were composed of 50 regular folk who’d earned their spots in the kitchen by raising at least $2,500 for the cause.
The enthusiastic audience, meanwhile, dined on more mass-produced versions of the same cuisine—braised Pacific halibut, fillet of Ontario Angus beef and honey crème brulée—complete with thoughtful wine pairings.
The evening also included a live auction, featuring such creative items as a 12-person executive Leafs game suite at the ACC, a dream kitchen makeover and groceries for a year. The final offering was a personal one: each of the participating chefs, including Ramsay himself, donated the preparation of an eight-person meal, complete with wine pairings. The gavel dropped on this one at a whopping $36,000.
Throughout the evening, a panel of foodie judges assessed the teams’ efforts, while all the while Ramsay strolled among the players, offering colourful commentary in his trademark acerbic style.
And, when the flour had settled on the affair, chef Lynn Crawford, whose downtown restaurant Ruby Watchco has earned raves for its homey, fixed-menu concept, took home the silver whisk. She dedicated the prize to her beaming team.