Along with providing hot, delicious meals to 100-plus hungry tummies the Soupateria’s Souper (Bowl) Sunday competition will mean serious bragging rights for one local chef.
Co-workers, executive chef David Stern and line prep cook Jaymz Miller of Theo’s Restaurant recently went head to head in round one of the culinary clash.
As it turned out Miller’s thick, spicy Hungarian goulash was the people’s choice as voted by the diners who were actually the real winners, having an opportunity to sample both.
“This is a really great idea and I definitely like the goulash the best,” said Johnny Iannone between slurps. “I like the heat.”
Including Stern and Miller, a total of four city culinarians and four sous chefs from the Penticton Secondary School culinary program are taking part in the event.
Doing battle in the next round will be chefs Paul Cecconi of Brodo Kitchen and Aaron Armstrong of the Penticton Lakeside Resort.
Along with the regular diners there will also be a panel of celebrity judges, including members of the Penticton Vees hockey team, mayor and council and media representatives.
Sous chefs in the next competition are Kody Firlotte and Lauren Ek.
Winners of the first two rounds will meet in the championship for the overall title.
“Well, the first reason were doing this is fun,” said volunteer and Souper Sunday co-chair Don Magill who was overseeing activities in the first event. “We’re doing something different for the people we serve at the soup kitchen and we’re also doing it to create a higher profile. A chance for people who maybe do not know what the soup kitchen is all about to understand it.
“Also we have the opportunities for young people from the high school to come in and work with real chefs so this is an ideal win-win situation for everyone.”
Open 365 days a year and serving upwards of 5,000 souls annually, there are usually as many as 10 people helping out at each meal.
“We’re a non-profit organization that runs on the generosity of the community and we live in a very generous community, but also we have a volunteer base that’s getting quite old and we need younger, newer volunteers to come in to pick up the slack,” said Magill. “Personally I come here because it’s a lot of fun and I feel good when I leave. I feel I’ve done some good work I feel I’ve helped people and I’ve also had the pleasure of working with some wonderful people.”
One new volunteer recruit will likely be one of the participating chefs.
“I think this is an absolutely fantastic program. To be 100 per cent honest with you since I moved to the Okanagan in 2012 I haven’t been here once but in the future and with the history of Theo’s (to provide service outside the business spectrum) I think I’m going to spend a lot more volunteer time helping out here,” said Stern who prepared his Hammertime ham chowder.
For him the opportunity to work with the high school students was an added bonus.
“I love working with kids and I love coaching, I love teaching,” said Stern. “Teaching is a big passion of mine and I love cooking too so what’s better than this, you can be a chef and a teacher too.”
About his opponent on this day he said there really was not any competition and Miller was only there for his good looks.
Stern declined comment (with a smile) following the announcement of the diners’ decision on the winning dish.
For Miller the day was much more than just a fun outing.
“It really is for a good cause the soup kitchen is something I’ve had to use in the past and it’s nice to give back a little,” he said.
Pen High student Logan Edwards was one of the helpers in the kitchen in this event and enjoyed the opportunity to rub elbows with the pros.
“These guys have been great. They’re a lot of fun and know what they’re doing that’s for damn sure,” he said. “I do want to be a chef because I just love making food. It’s fun.
Fellow student Connor Trovao agreed. “They are fantastic and they are super nice and very skilled. I learned work ethic to get the job done quicker.”
Miller will now meet the winner of the next round in the championship, which is scheduled to include celebrity judge Mayor Andrew Jakubeit.