My Journey as a Fundraising Foodie
My Journey as a Fundraising Foodie
By Brad Smith
Everyone has a breast cancer story. Whether you’ve been directly affected or know someone who has been affected, it’s a disease that impacts everyone. That’s why when KitchenAid approached me with the opportunity to combine my love of food with a worthy cause and participate in the KitchenAid Cook for the Cure Culinary Showdown, I was in! Not only was I going to be surrounded by some of the best chefs across North America – including my good friend and one of the funniest people I know, Chef Lynn Crawford – I was also going to be raising money for the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation (CBCF).
For those of you who don’t know, the KitchenAid Cook for the Cure Culinary Showdown is an annual event that brings together foodies (like myself) and all-star chefs to compete on stage and raise money for the CBCF. This was my first year participating in a food and fundraising event like this and it was definitely a fun and rewarding experience. This year, the celebrity chef lineup included Lynn Crawford, Elizabeth Falkner, Ricardo, Marcus Samuelsson and Corbin Tomaszeski, which made it that much more exciting.
My first step to secure a spot on stage competing with the best of the best? Raising a minimum of $2,500 for the CBCF. My supportive friends, family and social followers helped make that happen in a few short weeks. A big thank you goes out to everyone who donated!
Celebrity Chefs School
The morning before the big night, I joined my fellow participants at Celebrity Chefs School. With five stations set up, we had cooking lessons with each of the chefs to sharpen our skills and learn the tricks of the trade. From learning about choux pastry for ice cream filled profiteroles with Chef Ricardo, to making the most delicious fried chicken with Chef Marcus to using the nifty KitchenAid Spiralizer Attachment to spiralize zucchini noodles, it was the best experience. The chefs’ energy really helped get all the fundraisers ‘in the zone’ for the evening’s competition.
Meeting the other fundraisers that morning was definitely one of the biggest highlights of this experience. They were all amazing people who shared a passion for food and the cause. After attending so many events where people look at me as “The Bachelor Canada”, it was nice to be surrounded by so many fun foodies who like to geek out on celebrity chefs, and were excited and supportive of my debut on Chopped Canada.
I have to admit, after working with Chef Lynn Crawford on Chopped Canada, I couldn’t wait to see her again on the day of the event. Not only is she an amazing chef, she is absolutely hilarious, and I was honoured to be on her team. When 7pm rolled around that evening, it was time to put our aprons on and get cracking in front of a live audience of about 400 people. Talk about turning up the heat! Although I like to think I’m pretty good in the kitchen, Chef Lynn felt otherwise, which was clear when she put me on cocktail duty for most of the first round. Ironically enough, the first dish was our worst ever but the judges said they loved the drinks (thanks to my 3-month stint as a bartender back in the day).
All jokes aside, each round was full of excitement and the fact that we were cooking for a great cause, made it that much more enjoyable. From Celebrity Chefs School to the cocktail reception to the Culinary Showdown, it was definitely a long day, but by the end of it I can honestly say I didn’t want to leave.
With proceeds going to research to help create a future without breast cancer, I’m so happy I partnered with KitchenAid to be a part of this incredible event. I’m also excited to announce that this year KitchenAid Cook for the Cure Culinary Showdown raised a total of $730,000 for the CBCF. Congratulations to all of the participants and especially Chef Marcus Samuelsson’s team on being crowned 2015 Culinary Showdown Champs. But don’t get too comfortable – we’ll be stealing that title next year!