Food and fundraising have always been a perfect match. Ottawa has scores of delicious events each year which reward supporters with a delectable meal. One of the sweetest events is the annual Carefor Chocolate Competition, held to raise funds for an essential organization that provides home health care, respite and community support services to assist caregivers and families grappling with Alzheimer’s disease or other dementias.
Held at the Tudor Hall, the 12th edition of the Carefor Chocolate Competition saw nine participating chefs duke it out, delighting the hundreds of attendees. I was honoured when event organizers asked me, as Ottawa At Home magazine’s food editor, to be on the five-member judging panel. I joined chocolatier extraordinaire Chef Heinrich Stubbe, le Cordon Bleu Ottawa’s director of operations Chef Hervé Chabot, Algonquin College’s Executive Chef Russell Weir and noted cookbook author and television personality Margaret Dickenson at the judges’ table.
I was grateful to be seated between Chefs Stubbe and Weir, whom I peppered with questions about the judging process. Each of the nine plates we were to assess had multiple components and it was essential to consider these individually, as well as scoring the dessert as a whole. We looked, we tasted, we tasted some more, and then we got busy assigning points for taste, presentation and originality. In the end, one dessert prevailed – a chocolate shell ‘boat’ filled with fruit puree and garnished with pretty curls of tempered chocolate. When the awards were presented at the end of the event, we learned that the dessert we judges had deemed the best was similarly selected as the People’s Choice award winner. Created by Orleans-based Top of the Hill Bakery, this year’s repeat win gives bakers Jeff and Ashlyn Stoveld bragging rights and $1000 in prize money which they’ll no doubt find helpful as they seek to relocate and expand their business this year.
Kudos to the event’s many generous sponsors as well as all the participating bakeries, catering companies and restaurants, each of who delivered inspired creations for the competition. This year’s competitors included The Albion Rooms, Hilton Garden Inn Ottawa Airport, Le Café, Navarra by Rene Rodriguez, Palisades Retirement Residence, Raven, Tammy’s Creative Cakes, Todric’s Restaurant and Catering and Top of the Hill Bakery. It’s important to note that these chefs donated their time, their talents and 350 portions of dessert each to support the Carefor Health & Community Services organization in raising $33,000.