Chefs to compete at charity event celebrating fall’s bounty

Angelo Montes of Sole Mio Ristorante is among seven chefs who will compete in the annual Valley Vine & Harvest Throwdown in Lake Elmo this weekend. (Photo by Lynn Sommer)

On Sunday, Oct. 8, seven local chefs will take part in a culinary competition with the goal of raising money for local mental health programs, substance use programs and Minnesota’s suicide prevention phone lines.

The Annual Valley Vine & Harvest Throwdown, to be held at the Lake Elmo Inn Event Center, will celebrate nine years of benefiting Canvas Health, an Oakdale-based nonprofit. Each competing chef will prepare a mini-entrée made with at least one local ingredient and paired with a fine wine selected by the event’s wine ambassadors, Andy Kass and Bill Abrahamson. After enjoying each dish, guests will vote for their favorite to receive the Top Chef of the Valley award.

This year’s competition boasts a diverse group of chefs: Chef Angela Verrastro, Angelina’s Kitchen; Chef Ron Bohnert, Danny’s Bar & Grill; Chef Paul LaPean, The Nova Restaurant & Wine Bar; Chef Maggie Wescott, Rivertown Inn; and Chef Angelo Montes, Sole Mio Ristorante; Chef Justin Neubauer, Tamarack Tap Room; and Chef Jeffrey Lundmark, Wilder Scratch Kitchen.

In addition to feasting on mini-entrées and sampling fine wines, guests will have the opportunity to bid on live and silent auction items, including private chef dinners and a week at a house in France. They’ll also be able to purchase a bottle of fine wine from the wine wall.

Prior to the main chef competition event, reigning Top Chef of the Valley Chef John Schiltz from Lake Elmo Inn will host an intimate VIP Grand Cru Party, where he will discuss the preparation of foie gras. There will also be a sabrage tutorial. Sabrage is a technique for opening a champagne bottle with a saber, used for ceremonial occasions. The wielder slides the saber along the body of the bottle to break the top of the neck away, leaving the neck of the bottle open and ready to pour.

“Being at Valley Vine is like watching an exciting chef’s competition show on TV, only better because the delicious dishes they create become your entrée for the night — as a guest, you get to partake in everything,” said Matt Eastwood, Canvas Health CEO. “More importantly, your support of this event enables Canvas Health to continue casting lifelines of hope to people struggling in our community. We encourage everyone to come out and have a great time.”

Tickets for the main event are $100 and are available at