Turning Up the Heat

Five local amateur chefs have been chosen to compete in the first-ever Top Chef Martin County on April 29. The contenders are rallying friends and family to

help raise funds for the competition which will benefit House of Hope, a countywide agency whose mission is to empower Martin County residents to overcome
hunger and hardship.

Amateur chefs Kelli Allison, Jean Cerniglia, Adam Fetterman, Angela Moore-Hodge and Jim Matts toured House of Hope, met one another exchanging friendly banter, and have begun pounding the pavement for the fundraising component of the competition. Jason Stocks, owner and professional chef at District Table & Bar, has served as a consultant for the cooking competition as well as outlining the rules and offering helpful tips to the contestants.

On April 29 the heat will be turned up as competitors battle it out in the kitchen at St. Joseph Catholic Church’s Family Center. They’ll be given five surprise baskets of ingredients commonly found in House of Hope’s Client Choice pantries and nutrition gardens. 45 minutes later their decadent dishes will be critiqued by a panel of local notables and professional chefs- Eric Grutka, of Ian’s Tropical Grill; Jason Stocks, of District Table & Bar; and Susan Dennis, TCPalm’s food critic. Winners will be selected for “Best Prepared Meal,” “Top Fundraiser” and the coveted “Top Chef of Martin County.”

House of Hope CEO, Rob Ranieri offers, “We are very excited as Top Chef Martin County will not only be a very entertaining event, it will also encompass so many themes from our new empowerment and enrichment programs at House of Hope. A huge component of our nutrition gardens and Golden Gate Center for Enrichment aims to educate local residents about the benefits of nutritious cooking, meal planning, family budgeting and healthy habits. This competition will showcase what can be done with typical items provided by our pantries and nutrition gardens, and how it takes less than an hour to create something exciting and tasty!”

 Tickets to watch the sizzling competition are available at TopChefMartinCounty.com and attendees will also enjoy a festive party complete with gourmet tasting stations from area restaurants, two free drink tickets, music, dancing and more.

 Opportunities are still available to join the list of sponsors: Elaine Matts, FPL, The Firefly Group, Solar Energy Systems, The Fetterman Firm, Whiticar Boats, Group One Safety & Security, Riders Edge Equestrian Center, Geico Local Office, Deborah Lovequist, Michael and Marie Elms, Joseph Matson and Linda Mundt, as well as John and Lynn Sargent.