Chef Ben Elliott of Concord’s Salt Box Kitchen was the winner of the cooking competition at the Chopped for Charity Gala at Nashawtuc Country Club last week.
More than 250 people took part in the event, which raised $190,000 for Open Table, the MetroWest charity dedicated to fighting hunger and building healthy communities.
Elliot won the competition by impressing judges with his ability to fully cook chicken thighs using a small burner in a small amount of time to create braised chicken thighs in a black garlic and mushroom agrodolce sauce with fresh ricotta crostini topped with peas, lemon zest, pistachios, and mint. Chef Kelcy Scolnik won the audience voting with her black garlic ricotta gnocchi in roasted mushroom and basil brown butter sauce, and a spring pea salad with shallot mustard vinaigrette. Chef Matt Kenah busted out the creativity with a ricotta, chopped pea, black garlic, and ‘za’atar spice donut in a yogurt sauce with peas and mint and a composed salad with roasted peas, shaved mushrooms, and chopped bacon, which he topped with toasted almonds in the “28 seconds” he had to spare.
The judging panel included Tiziana Dearing, host of Radio Boston on WBUR; Andy Husbands, the award-winning chef, author and pitmaster behind The Smoke Shop BBQ, Boston’s acclaimed barbecue restaurants; Peter Malloy, executive chef at Nashawtuc Country Club; and Marc Herdegen who won the fourth judging position in an auction prior to the start of the competition. The evening’s master of ceremonies was Joe Gatto, a private chef, culinary instructor, author and host of the cutting-edge cooking show From Scratch.
Jill Block and Wade Rubenstein and, in memoriam, community leader Debra Stark of Debra’s Natural Gourmet, were honored at the event. Local dignitaries in attendance included State Senator Jamie Eldridge and State Representative Kate Hogan.
“Open Table’s supporters came out in force for this year’s Chopped for Charity Gala,” said Alexandra DePalo, executive director, Open Table. “With 250 in-person attendees and an overflow crowd watching online, the event surpassed our fundraising goal and will provide much needed resources to meet the growing demand we are seeing. We are fortunate to have such a strong, supportive coalition of people willing contribute to our mission to end hunger in our local community.”