Area chefs to compete for Top Chef honor in Lake Elmo

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LAKE ELMO, Minn. — On Sunday, Oct. 8, seven local chefs will take part in an epic culinary competition with the goal of raising money for local mental health programs, substance use programs and Minnesota's suicide prevention phone lines.

The annual Valley Vine & Harvest Throwdown, held at the Lake Elmo Inn Event Center, will celebrate nine years of benefiting Canvas Health, an Oakdale-based nonprofit. Each competing chef will prepare a mini-entrée made with at least one local ingredient and paired with a fine wine selected by the event's wine ambassadors, Andy Kass and Bill Abrahamson. After enjoying each dish, guests will vote for their favorite to receive the coveted Top Chef of the Valley award.

This year's competition boasts a diverse group of competing chefs: Chef Angela Verrastro, Angelina's Kitchen in Woodbury; Chef Ron Bohnert, Danny's Bar & Grill in Stillwater; Chef Paul LaPean, The Nova Restaurant & Wine Bar in Hudson; Chef Maggie Wescott, Rivertown Inn in Stillwater; Chef Angelo Montes, Sole Mio Ristorante in Woodbury; Chef Justin Neubauer, Tamarack Tap Room in Woodbury; and Chef Jeffrey Lundmark, Wilder Scratch Kitchen in Bayport.

In addition to feasting on mini-entrées and sampling fine wines, guests will have the opportunity to bid on unique live and silent auction items, including private chef dinners and a week at a house in France. They'll also be able to purchase a bottle of fine wine from the wine wall.

Prior to the main chef competition event, reigning Top Chef of the Valley Chef John Schiltz from Lake Elmo Inn will host an intimate VIP Grand Cru Party, where he will discuss the preparation of foie gras. There will also be an exciting sabrage tutorial. Sabrage is a technique for opening a champagne bottle with a saber, used for ceremonial occasions.

"Being at Valley Vine is like watching an exciting chef's competition show on TV, only better because the delicious dishes they create become your entrée for the night — as a guest, you get to partake in everything," Canvas Health CEO Matt Eastwood said. "More importantly, your support of this event enables Canvas Health to continue casting lifelines of hope to people struggling in our community. We encourage everyone to come out and have a great time."

Tickets for this event may be purchased at www.CanvasHealth.org/Events.