The highly anticipated 3rd annual Chef’s Challenge finally arrived on Dec 1st with a turnout of 450 fundraisers and supporters of Mount Sinai. There was lots of intense pre-battle hoopla including 4 weekly Food Truck for Sinai events and culinary pre-events as well as some videos from chefs such as Mark McEwan and Chuck Hughes both declaring they were in it to win it this year.

The evening at Fairmont Royal York started with a reception and silent auction. There was also a MasterCard VIP reception on the 19th floor where all the celebrity chefs were doing photoshoots with VIPs but it was also really great that chefs Lynn Crawford and Michael Smith mingled in the general reception, too. Michael Smith was so gracious and allowed for so many pictures with admirers. He’s such a great guy! Guests enjoyed Appleton Estate cocktails and hors d’oeurves like cocktail shrimp and beef carpaccio.

Michael Smith with the Appleton Estate ladies

Michael Smith with the Appleton Estate ladies

The main event was emceed by Bob Blumer, host of the Food Network show World’w Weirdest Restaurants. When Guy Fieri came in, he lit up the room with his energy and got the crowd going throughout the whole evening. But he also said that this event to find a cure was very personal to him as his own sister, Morgan, passed away from melanoma about a year and a half ago. Fieri was quick to switch gears back into a lighter mood, too. He has incredible stage presence! Chef Mark McEwan with no-holds-barred, started the smack talk by saying that David Rocco was a model, not a chef, and claimed that Lynn Crawford was a cheater. Shocking! Lynn Crawford won the first annual Chef’s Challenge and Mark McEwan won the second, so there was quite a bit of friendly pent-up rivalry.

Guy Fieri with the Chef's Challenge awards

Guy Fieri with the Chef’s Challenge awards

Getting into the heat of the culinary battle, the first secret ingredient the teams had to use was sushi grade ahi tuna. Each team’s chef then had to come up with a recipe on the spot to make an appetizer. It was a flurry of activity as each chef wasn’t allowed to touch anything, instead they guided their teams to create their dishes ready for the panel of judges. The next secret ingredient was beef tenderloin followed by phyllo dough. In the end it was Chef Lynn Crawford who won back her title and her team was ecstastic. Chuck Hughes took a close 2nd and Michael Smith took 3rd place, not bad for a “rookie” to Chef’s Challenge. What an incredibly entertaining culinary competition to watch unfold in person!

Ahi tuna appetizers ready for the judging panel

Ahi tuna appetizers ready for the judging panel

Members of the judging panel, Kris Reyes and Antony Robart

Members of the judging panel, Kris Reyes and Antony Robart

Bob Blumer and David Rocco

Bob Blumer and David Rocco

In what seemed like a spontaneous live auction, bids were given to shave off the “caterpillar” from Chuck Hughes face. Hilarity ensued. The bids were incredible and it was great to see it go up to $5,000. Food Network chef Corbin Tomaszeski also donated his stache for another generous winning bid of $2,500.

Chuck Hughes and his "caterpillar" ran to the bar to get a drink

Chuck Hughes and his “caterpillar” ran to the bar to get a drink

The social media table is busy!

The social media table is busy!

Judges included Kris Reyes, news anchor for Global TV, Antony Robart, anchor and host of Global Toronto, Michele Henry, reporter from the Toronto Star, John Moore, Morning Show Host for Newstalk 1010 and Amy Rosen, acting food editor at Chatelaine Magazine.

Guy Fieri and the judging panel: Antony Robart, Kris Reyes, Amy Rosen, John Moore, Michele Henry

Guy Fieri and the judging panel: Antony Robart, Kris Reyes, Amy Rosen, John Moore, Michele Henry

The featured live auction item of the night was the “Ultimate Foodie Package” featuring a set of private dinners with chefs Lynn Crawford, Chuck Hughes, Mark McEwan and David Rocco. Guy Fieri upped the stakes with dinners at his restaurants in California if a minimum of $25,000 was reached. A generous bidder obliged and the crowd cheered.

David Rocco with Future Sinai's Ashleigh Steinhauer

David Rocco with Future Sinai’s Ashleigh Steinhauer

Congrats to Chef Lynn Crawford and the team!

Congrats to Chef Lynn Crawford and the team!

Thanks very much to the kind folks at Mount Sinai Hospital who have let us cover all the exciting Chef’s Challenge pre-events. I also made the trek out to all 4 Food Trucks for Sinai events as well. It was a busy whirlwind of events but very enjoyable all the way and most importantly for a great cause. Congrats to the Chef’s Challenge team for raising $775,000 in 2012 for Mount Sinai Hospital. Keep up the great work! Stay tuned for more exciting fundraising opportunities with Mount Sinai in 2013!

Some of the many tweets from the evening:

From Mark McEwan's Facebook, we have Drake with Guy Fieri at One Hazelton on Saturday night after Chef's Challenge

From Mark McEwan’s Facebook, we have Drake with Guy Fieri at One Hazelton on Saturday night after Chef’s Challenge

ABOUT MOUNT SINAI HOSPITAL

Funds raised at this event provide sustaining funding to breast and ovarian cancer research and education at the Samuel Lunenfeld Research Institute and Marvelle Koffler Breast Centre at Mount Sinai Hospital. With your support, scientists at the Samuel Lunenfeld Research Institute can investigate new approaches to prevent, diagnose and treat disease, while clinicians at the Marvelle Koffler Breast Centre provide priceless classes to the community on mammography and self-screening, as well as classes on health, diet and exercise for recovering breast cancer patients.

More pictures below. Thanks to Macleans for using our Guy Fieri picture in their article!
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And here are even more pictures. And also check them out on our Facebook album.

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