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Local chefs compete for a cause in Lake Elmo

The 8th Annual Valley Vine & Harvest Throwdown competitors include: Chef Joshua Furman, Rivertown Inn; Chef John Schiltz, Lake Elmo Inn and Event Center; Chef Ron Bohnert, Danny's Bar and Grill; Wine Ambassador Andy Kass; Chef Thomas Kane, Gasthaus Bavarian Hunter; Chef Travis Heffron; Cravings Wine Bar & Grille; and Chef Angelo Montes, Sole Mio Ristorante. Not pictured: Chef Paul LaPean, The Nova of Hudson, Wis.

Local chefs are showcasing their best in a culinary showdown in Lake Elmo next weekend.

In its eighth annual  Valley Vine and Harvest Throwdown, seven chefs from around the east metro will be competing Sunday Oct. 9 for top chef honors. Proceeds from the event will benefit Oakdale-based nonprofit Canvas Health with the purpose of raising money to continue addressing mental health and crisis services.

“It’s a special experience to be able to dine in one location where there are seven distinguished chefs preparing their best dishes,” said Matt Eastwood, Canvas Health CEO. “We encourage everyone to join us to celebrate food, friendship, and the opportunity to make a real impact on the lives of those struggling in our community.”

Each competing chef will prepare a mini entree and guests will vote on their favorite dish to determine this year’s top chef.

The evening’s menu includes coffee-cured beef short rib crepinette, Nashville Hot Chicken, Konigsberger Klops, grated cauliflower risotto and giant sea scallop, Peterson Craftsman Meats pork shoulder, a three-course breakfast dish and lobster ravioli with cream sauce.

Per contest rules, chefs are also required to include at least one local ingredient.

Chefs like Travis Heffron, who is preparing a short rib crepinette dish, said he plans to incorporate local Honeycrisp apples to his dish.

“It's kind of a play on beef wellington without the pastry,” said Heffron, Woodbury’s Cravings Wine Bar and Grille executive chef.

Executive Chef Paul LaPean, who runs the kitchen at Nova Restaurant and Wine Bar in Hudson, Wis. said his pork shoulder dish will feature meat from a Wisconsin farm and is served with a Venezuelan flatbread called Arepa.

Though LaPean hasn’t competed in culinary contests, he said Chef’s contests that have been popularized through mostly TV shows give guests a glimpse of what goes on in the back of house at restaurants. “It’s cool for the public to see chefs and their teams working, and it's all out in the open,” he said.  

Guests will vote for their favorite dish after sampling all seven and will have the opportunity to sample a variety of wines.

Event organizers are also holding a live and silent auction, as well as an opportunity for guests to win a bottle of wine.

Overall, Chefs like LaPean and Heffron expressed enthusiasm for showcasing their crafts that will go toward a good cause.

“I’m going to go and cook the food I know how to cook and have fun doing it,” Heffron said. “It’s more of a beneficial thing for Canvas Health than it is for me.”

Before chefs compete, last year’s top chef Chris Whalen from Acqua Restaurant and Bar in White Bear Lake will hold a VIP Grand Cru Party where he will discuss how he prepares salmon, housemade pasta cake, roasted vegetables and Elderflower Beurre Blanc.

The event runs from 4-7 p.m. Sunday Oct. 9 at the Lake Elmo Inn Event Center, which located at 3712 N. Layton Ave.

Tickets are still available and guests can purchase them for $100 be visiting

Here are the Chefs and restaurants competing next Sunday:

  • Chef Travis Heffron, Cravings Wine Bar & Grille — Woodbury
  • Chef Ron Bohnert, Danny’s Bar and Grill — Stillwater
  • Chef Thomas Kane, Gasthaus Bavarian Hunter — Stillwater
  • Chef John Schiltz, Lake Elmo Inn — Lake Elmo
  • Chef Paul LaPean, The Nova Restaurant & Wine Bar — Hudson, Wis.
  • Chef Joshua Furman, Rivertown Inn — Stillwater
  • Chef Angelo Montes, Sole Mio Ristorante — Woodbury