Gloucester-Southgate Coun. Diane Deans suffered a bitter loss last week when she went up against three other local celebrities in an unconventional cooking competition in support of the Canadian Red Cross.
Two real-life chefs and two non-chef teams went head to head at the South Keys Walmart to raise awareness of emergency preparedness in case of a disaster on Wednesday, Aug. 31. Using only non-perishable foods such as canned chicken, spam and tinned beans and vegetables, the four teams had 30 minutes with no power or water to make a main course and dessert that a family of four could eat in case of an emergency.
“If you were in a disaster situation, would you know how to make a delicious meal for you and your family, without power, without water? Would you have the supplies to do that?” Red Cross volunteer David Fraser asked the crowd of spectators who gathered in the Walmart entranceway to watch Deans and her competition get to work.
The Red Cross recommends that families have 72 hours worth of non-perishable food and supplies in their house in case of an emergency that knocks out power, water and other services.
The four teams grabbed their ingredients and started cooking at 11 a.m., each with their own style. The judges included Canadian Red Cross secretary general Conrad Sauvé, Walmart district manager Kevin Raymond, Ottawa fire chief John deHooge and Ottawa Police inspector Mike Sanford, who judged the teams on their originality and edibility among other things.
Deans made a curry-infused bean and canned tomato salad with a canned chicken burrito. Her team created a trifle for dessert using butterscotch pudding, the fruit from individual fruit cups and chocolate chips.
Although the celebrity judges were impressed by Deans’ creations – Sanford finished every bite of his trifle – it was Gabriel Pollock, head chef of the Grounded Kitchen and Coffeehouse in downtown Ottawa, who took the top prize for his bean and beet salad with chocolate granola dessert.
“This is something that would be quick and easy to make, and gives you a good balance of carbohydrates and protein and all the other nutrients,” he said, adding he was pleased to compete in the charity event. “It was a whole lot of fun. It really was an interesting idea, trying to come up with some decent food from the ingredients you have to have if you don’t have access to power or water that we’re used to having all the time.”
The other chef teams included Brian Vallupuram, executive chef at the Lord Elgin Hotel, and Stuntman Stu and Angie Poirier from the Majic 100 radio station.
Canadian Red Cross secretary general Conrad Sauvé said being prepared for emergencies is becoming more and more important in Canada, where people are increasingly feeling the affects of natural disasters.
“Unfortunately we’ve had the same number of house fires and so on, but we’ve had more and more Canadians affected by things like the floods this spring and the tail end of the hurricanes,” he said.