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July 22, 2012

BBQ Fest Challenge cooks up fun

TERRE HAUTE — Dan Tanoos peeled carrots for a cause, while Dan Bradley roasted corn on a grill.

Dottie King, in between slicing vegetables, tweeted about the Woods Winner’s Circle.

The three were on separate celebrity teams Saturday competing in the Chef Challenge, a new part of the Clabber Girl BBQ Fest Challenge — a fundraising event for United Way.

Four teams went head-to-head as they battled to see who could prepare the best appetizer dish using pork loin (enough to feed 100 diners as well as judges), raise the most money for United Way and have the most fun.

Each team received $100 to purchase ingredients from the downtown Terre Haute Farmer’s Market. The pork was provided, and the team could bring certain staples such as spices, sugar and butter.

Each team included educators, a TV/radio personality and a professional chef, with the chef in charge of coming up with a dish and delegating responsibilities to other team members.

For Vigo County School Corp. Superintendent Tanoos and wife Claudia, that meant peeling and chopping vegetables, among other duties. He joked that there was just a little “twisted arm volunteerism” involved. Claudia is this year’s United Way campaign chairwoman.

But on a serious note, Tanoos said, “Any time we can help raise money for United Way, I think it’s important to do so. The money goes to help the citizens of the Wabash Valley, and a lot of the agencies are helping our kids.”

The team’s chef, Mandy Shook, a culinary chef for Clabber Girl, chose a Vietnamese-style pork sandwich for their appetizer. “She’s given all of us our duties,” Claudia Tanoos said.

Also on Team 1 was Dave Wire, WTHI-TV meteorologist.

To raise funds for United Way, 100 people could purchase $10 tickets, and they were able to vote for a People’s Choice winner from among the four teams. People could also leave tips.

Team 1 also had its own unique way to raise funds — a drawing for a Steve Weatherford, world championship punter shoe (unused), Claudia Tanoos said. Weatherford donated the shoe and signed it.

Shook, Team 1 chef, said the pork sandwiches would include a pickled vegetable slaw and a spicy aoili sauce.

Next to them was Team 2, which included Indiana State University President Dan Bradley and wife Cheri, Jeff Reynolds of Hi-99 and Kris Kraut, Sodexo executive chef of residential dining at ISU. Their booth featured a blue,  ISU theme.

“We’re going to win,” the ISU president said as he stood over a hot grill browning ears of corn. Team 2 was making citrus pork, Farmer’s Market succotash and garlic polenta (corn meal).

All vegetables, the cheese and wine came from the Farmer’s Market. “The wine is going to go in the mix of things — it’s not for drinking,” Bradley clarified.

King, St. Mary-of-the-Woods president, took a break from cooking chores to go visit her ISU competitors. It’s all in fun, she said. “The whole day is about unifying the community” and raising funds for United Way, she said.

King was a member of Team 3, which had a black and white “Woods Winner’s Circle” theme. The team made a Tex Mex Taco and different salsas under the guidance of Wade Fulford, manager of GFS. Diva Natalie of 100.7 MIX FM and King’s husband, Wayne, rounded out the team.

King was relieved that Fulford planned the menu and took charge of his crew. “We’re just chopping and doing what Wade says,” she said. “It all smells and looks good.”

Vigo County Farm Bureau also had a team that included John Rosene, chairman of Ivy Tech’s agricultural program; Doug Edge of WTWO and Wabash Valley Weekly; Debbie Laswell, a caterer who served as the team chef, and Becky Evans of Farm Bureau.

The Farm Bureau team made a chili-rubbed pork loin on a crostini, which is a small, toasted slice of bread.

The winning team of the Chef’s Challenge was determined using a point system based on the panel judge’s scores, people’s choice votes, money raised and decorated booths. Teresa Shaffer, Clabber Girl executive director of public relations, said the BBQ Fest featured several challenges this year, including a Chef’s Challenge, a Gladiator Challenge and a Water Ball Challenge.

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