It’s a bit like Inception, or an enigma wrapped in a mystery, or maybe it's the event equivalent of a turducken. Coaches who won’t be coaching partner up with chefs who won’t be cooking — well, maybe a little; the coaches will be coached by the chefs to cook. Get it? But can the coaches actually cook? Can the chefs actually coach? Heck, it might even be a culinary remake of The Matrix.
In short, the 3rd Annual Coaches’ Cook-Off should be a great time. The Positive Vibe Foundation, parent organization of Max’s Positive Vibe Café in the Stratford Hills Shopping Center, has put together two incredible teams to face off at the Science Museum of Virginia. Culinary heavy hitters Joe Sparatta (of Heritage, also 2015 Elby Chef of the Year) and Lee Gregory (of The Roosevelt, also 2014 Elby Chef of the Year) are teamed with Virginia Tech basketball coach Buzz Williams and Jim Ertel, executive chef of Salisbury Country Club. They’ll be taking on the two-time-winning duo Glenn Pruden and Chris Mooney, executive chef at University of Richmond and U of R head mens’ basketball coach, respectively. Pruden and Mooney will also get some help from the Country Club of Virginia's former executive chef, Gary Whitecotton, who is currently a culinary instructor at Northern Neck Technical Center.
The night will pack an Iron Chef-like punch, especially since the food theme is inspired by the regions from which the coaches hail: Philly (Mooney) versus Texas (Williams). Any guesses what those regions have in common? A certain style of meat sandwich, perhaps? The judges’ panel will include our own food editor, Stephanie Breijo — representing Richmond magazine, the media sponsor of this throwdown; restaurateur Michelle Williams; Richmond.com/Richmond Times Dispatch's Karri Peifer; Food Management Magazine's Tara Fitzpatrick; Style Weekly’s Brandon Fox and ESPN radio personality Big Al Coleman. Attendees will have voting power, too, naming the Peoples’ Choice award; plates of each team’s dish will be executed for the whole crowd. Plus, everyone onstage will be mic’ed, which promises to make for fascinating dinner convo fodder. Chefs and coaches? All they need is a pirate and they’d have the perfect triumvirate of infamously foul-mouthed professions.
The Coaches’ Cook-Off takes place on April 23rd— still a ways off, yes, but tickets are already on sale now at $100 for a single ticket, $150 for two, and they benefit a great cause: Positive Vibe has become adept at throwing creative, wow-factor fundraisers to support its mission of training people with disabilities for jobs in the food industry, and this is no exception.
The 3rd Annual Coaches’ Cook-Off takes place at the Science Museum of Virginia on Thursday, April 23, at 6 p.m.