Cook for the Cure Celebrity Chefs Tell All

With the 2014 KitchenAid Cook for the Cure Culinary Showdown quickly approaching (the event happens November 29), I was curious to know how the chefs would prepare. 

This year, Chefs Lynn Crawford, Mark McEwan and Corbin Tomaszeski return, welcoming newcomers Susur Lee and Vikram Vij to the full day event, along with Emcee Noah Cappe.

The competition will be fierce – and fun – but what will each chef do differently to win? I asked each chef four questions about their participation and approach, and it’s as fascinating as looking in their wallets. As you’ll see below, the answers reveal as much about themselves as the food they make.

You too, can help raise money and awareness – and get a chance to meet these celebrity chefs. Choose to fundraise yourself, or support us here at Dine.TO

I will be fundraising between now and November 29th on behalf of Dine.TO, who are also proud sponsors of the event! You can donate quickly and easily right now on our page.

Tremendous thanks to all five chefs for graciously giving up their time to provide the answers below.

Lynn Crawford – LC
Susur Lee - SL
Mark McEwan – MM
Corbin Tomaszeski- CT
Vikrim Vij - VV

What do you most look forward to at an event such as this?

LC: I really enjoying seeing the competitors excitement to participate and support such an amazing cause, their instant camaraderie to work together as a team, and their culinary skills, however varied they my be, everyone contributes to their full potential.

SL: Morethan anything, I’m really looking forward to being a part of such a great cause, while doing something that I love.

MM: I think that this is a really fun way to shed light on a great cause, eat some great food and have a lot of fun.

CT: I like this approach of bringing awareness to this cause as it touches all of us. Everyone has experienced this horrible disease at some level. I love the idea of raising funds in an unconventional way that brings the community together in a way where it's not your A-typical sell. Food is a connector with people and this "grass-roots idea" of bringing people together through food to conquer Cancer is amazing! It speaks to what a community is - "a feeling of fellowship with others, as a result of sharing common attitudes, interests, and goals.”  

Breast cancer is a reality and the only way we can beat it, is by rallying together to find a cure and food can do that. Once people experience this incredible event they leave with the feeling that - they just have to help out!  I love getting people together and the idea of taking this and helping others out-it's a privilege and honour to be associated with it.
VV: The chefs and our team members are always a lot of fun.  I love to compete and the challenge of creating flavourful dishes within a short space of time is the type of organized chaos I am familiar with.
How do you plan to win this year?

LC: All of the Chefs want to see their team take home the title.  Everyone who cooks in the challenge is a winner as far as I'm concerned!  That's my strategy.....cook to win!

SL: Keeping zen, always making sure my team is comfortable in the kitchen and making sure they all leave with 10 fingers.

MM: To keep my title I am going to try to remain calm, teach my team good basics and threaten them with their life if we don't end up on top, haha.

CT: Winning for me is not just taking home the title, but being the one team that brings people together and raises the most monies!  Bragging rights for the cooking competition is fun, but having myself and others bring in any amounts of money is the win-factor for me.
VV: Last year, I made a mistake by not tasting my dessert and we lost the competition by a few points.  This year, I plan to stay on top of my game and not only observe but also taste our dishes.
What for you makes this the ultimate food experience?

LC: I have participated in many culinary competitions over the years. For me what makes the Cook for the Cure the ultimate food experience, simple..... an amazing cause, the chefs, the chef participants, the attendees and all the volunteers that make this evening the best fundraising events of the year.

SL: It’s such an organic experience of sharing knowledge and for a good cause. It’s like working in a home kitchen and a professional kitchen at the same time. The best of both worlds!

MM: I like being able to spend both the afternoon and the evening with my team members, that way I can get to know them, put together the right combinations of personalities for each round, and they get to know me outside of the pressure cooker of competition.

CT: I love that fact that everyday folks/ people can experience food with a professional/ celebrity chef. Hands-on training by us chef personalities is a great opportunity and it empowers people to cook for the right reasons. It also shows people that we (the celebrity chefs) care about breast cancer and how it affects all of us. 
VV: Great vino and hospitality followed by a good conversation about life and politics.
What have you learned NOT to do in events such as this?

LC: I have always gone into any competition with the desire to win but also to have to have fun and enjoy it. Don't demand that things happen as you wish, but wish that they happen as they do, and you will be just fine!

SL: Never get too panicked. If something isn’t working out, just stay calm. This way you can make sure you leave the kitchen with all of your fingers!

MM:Over plan. It is a huge waste of time. You just have to roll with the punches.

CT: I have learned to not shy away from the subject of Breast Cancer and instead understand that so many of us share similar experiences around it- it's no longer a topic of discomfort but something we can speak freely to with or without having had the disease. 

I've learned that I cannot simply ask people to donate time and money to this fundraiser without giving them the understanding as to why I'm personally doing this. I have since shared stories and experiences about Breast cancer from the loved ones in my life and how it has changed our lives. 
As for the competition- I've learned to not be too cocky as there are so many unexpected ingredients in the black box competition that can throw you off your game- but it's all in good fun. 
Overall I just want people to support this event with any amount of money. This food event is like no other- as mentioned previously it's why we have a community and why we need to work together to find a cure. 

VV: I try not to focus on the small things. Everything is impromptu and it is so much more fun to be proven wrong in events like this.  You find yourself making mistakes you wouldn't normally make, but then you keep working because the clock is ticking but then you make another silly mistake and then your forced to rethink and prioritize.  It is a great learning environment, you learn something new at every turn.