Aramark executive chef and St. Thomas University head chef Michael Greer took home first place at the Canadian Cancer Society’s Cook for the Cure on Jan. 17. He teamed up with Stewart McKelvey Fredericton for the second year in a row at the cook-off, which was held at the STU Conference Centre. Their team – Innocent Until Proven Grill-ty – defended their win from last year.
“I’m the executive chef up at St. Thomas. I’m up at Martin Hall and I handle the banquets here,” said Greer.
The annual event hosted nine teams of Fredericton businesses, each paired with an expert chef. The nine stations featured employees from Bartide Realty, Stewart McKelvey, Fredericton Toyota, Stantec, Hotchkiss Home Furniture, Covey Basics, Jeff Alpaugh Custom/Brandon L-Jack Brewer, Bringloe Feeny and IG Wealth Management. About 250 attendees got to taste different dishes and vote for their favourite. All the proceeds of the event went to the Canadian Cancer Society.
Greer said his team wants to go for a third win next year, but that wasn’t what the night was about.
“It was a great time really, and of course everyone was a winner here tonight,” he said.
The teams created a variety of dishes for voters to choose from, such as sous vide lamb, pork croquettes and ice cream with a crispy curry topping.
After sampling all the dishes, voters placed a single golden spoon into a sealed box to choose their favourite meal.
For Greer and his team, a bacon-wrapped beef tenderloin paired with a white chocolate panna cotta for dessert was the golden ticket.
“We do everything as a team, we are a very close tight-knit team. We tried a couple of different beef recipes and we figured out what would work for this event,” said Greer.
Jessica Fitzherbert, community resource coordinator for the Canadian Cancer Society, said a fundraiser of this size takes almost a year to plan.
“It’s a matter of going out and finding the teams. Finding chefs who are also willing to pair with the teams and give up their time, oversee the team and then putting together all the dishes and the food. We also try to find as many donated partners as we can.”
The hard work that goes into the cook-off doesn’t just fall on organizers. The teams fundraised for six months, pledging to raise $5,000 by the end of January.
To raise money, the teams are selling tickets and hosting silent auctions. Greer and his team were able to give back some of the money they had been given for supplies.
“We had a lot of suppliers that donated the product for us, so it really enabled us to put back portions of our own budget into the cause,” said Greer.
Greer said winning the competition isn’t what inspires him. He said he’s inspired by who he’s helping.
“That was the real big point behind it for us. The driving point for this was the people that this event benefited.”