High-end cuisine, high-stakes contest will support Veggie U

MILAN TWP. Grills will be hot and plates will be filled with a variety of succulent courses during t
Sandusky Register Staff
May 24, 2010

MILAN TWP.

Grills will be hot and plates will be filled with a variety of succulent courses during the seventh annual Food and Wine Celebration.

The event will take place on the grounds of the Culinary Vegetable Institute and will include indoor and outdoor exhibits. All proceeds from the event will go to support Veggie U, a nonprofit organization that educates children about sustainable farming and promotes healthy eating habits.

Debra Nickoloff, executive director of Veggie U, called the Food and Wine Celebration "the biggest event of the year."

"We usually get anywhere from 800-1,000 guests for the celebration," Nickoloff said.

Scheduled for 4-9 p.m. July 18, the program will include an assortment of activities. There will be food demonstrations, a motivational speaker, silent and live auctions and wine classes. The featured event of the evening will be the Star Chef Cook Off.

Battling for the title of Star Chef -- and for a trip to Barcelona, Spain -- will be Lee Ann Wong from Bravo's "Top Chef," Paula DaSilva from the Fox Network's "Hell's Kitchen" and James Briscione from Food Network's "Chopped."

"It's a bit of a battle of the networks," Nickoloff said.

Tickets for the Food and Wine Celebration are $145 per guest or $100 per guest for groups of eight or more.

New to the program this year will be two dinner events the night before the Food and Wine Celebration, both July 17 at Sawmill Creek Resort in Huron Township.

The first event, at 5:30 p.m., will allow guests to mingle with the chefs who will participate in the Food and Wine Celebration. Dinner will feature seasonal cuisine and wine from Trinchero Family Estates. Tickets are $100 per guest.

The second event, scheduled for 6:30 p.m. at the Mariner's Club, is Regional Flavors on the Lake. Nine chefs from across the country will prepare a seven-course meal for guests. The meal will use local ingredients, but each course will focus on a different region of the United States. Tickets for this event will be $500 per guest.

Richard Gras, the executive chef at Salt, a restaurant at the Amelia Island, Fla., Ritz Carlton, is organizing the menu for the Regional Flavors on the Lake dinner.

Gras, who has participated in the Food and Wine Celebration, said the events are a fitting way to support Veggie U.

"The whole cause behind it is a great one," Gras said. "If we don't care for our land now our kids won't have it in 30 or 40 years. We need to educate kids now so that they have the land in the future."

Want to taste?

WHAT: Food and Wine Celebration

WHEN: 4-9 p.m. July 18

WHERE: Culinary Vegetable Institute, Milan Township.

HOW MUCH: $145 per guest, or $100 per guest for groups of eight or more

WHAT ELSE: Two preview dinner events

WHEN: Meet the chefs at 5:30 p.m. with dinner July 17; Regional Flavors on the Lake at 6:30 p.m. July 17

WHERE: Sawmill Creek Resort, Huron Township

HOW MUCH: Meet the chefs dinner is $100 per guest; Regional Flavors $500 per guest.