As the old story goes, a pot of soup big enough to feed a starving village began with someone boiling a stone in hot water.
Curious as to why someone was boiling a stone, village members came over to the soup pot and, one by one, began adding ingredients that eventually completed the recipe.
That story—known as Aesop’s Fable—is the inspiration for the Salvation Army hosting the first annual Kootenay Granite Stone Soup Challenge, where seven local chefs from Cranbrook and Kimberley will go head-to-head to make the best stone soup with donated ingredients.
Using the head-to-head format popularized by Master Chef, the seven local chefs will put their culinary creativity to the test at the Salvation Army’s soup kitchen, preparing a daily soup for Salvation Army clients. Soups will be voted on taste, texture, affordability, appearance and nutritional value by the Salvation Army clients.
The winners of the soups will move on to the next round.
After battling it out over the course of a few weeks, the finalists will face off against each other at a luncheon at the Prestige Rocky Mountain Resort.
Participating in the competition are; Chef Rusty Cox (The Heid Out Restaurant and Brewhouse), Chef Graham Barnes (Max’s Place), Chef Shelby Schiller (BJ’s Diner and Creekside Pub), Chef Marc Rathpoller (Tuscany’s), Sous Chef Doug Wagner (St. Eugene Mission Resort), Chef Kathy Morey, (Salvation Army) and Chef Barb Smythe (The Roadhouse Grill).
The first competition, which pits two chefs against each other, kicks off on Feb. 16 at the Salvation Army.
All chefs were contacted by the Cranbrook and District Community Foundation (CDCF) and Barnes, decided to jump on board right away.
“It sounds like a lot of fun and it’s for a good cause,” said Barnes, who has a little bit of experience in a competitive environment from back in his chef training days at school.
As all the ingredients are donated, no one will know exactly what they’re working with until they step into the soup kitchen.
“I tend to over think things if I have everything I want,” said Barnes. “It’s nice to have some limitation and it’s a challenge. Nobody knows what’s going to be there, so it’ll bring out the best in people.
“It makes for a more relaxed and fun environment to cook in.”
No matter what ingredients they’re working with, there are always a few key parts to a good soup.
“Good onions, carrots, celery—those are the base to a lot of soups. A good stock and good, fresh ingredients—those are the keys to it,” said Barnes. “But not knowing what’s going to be there, it’s going make you think outside the box and be a little creative.”
Each chef will also be allowed to bring one—and only one—of their favourite kitchen tools.
The final luncheon will be open to the public on March 4th, with tickets available at $25 for lunch or $45 for lunch and a $20 charitable receipt. Proceeds will go to support the Salvation Army’s effort to build a 24/7 shelter in Cranbrook for homeless men, women and families. Funds raised will also go towards the CDCF general endowment fund, which provides annual grants to non-profit organizations in the community.
“We are thrilled to contribute to this exciting new fundraiser,” said Rick Klassen, owner of Kootenay Granite. “Cranbrook is where I chose to build my business and raise my family and it is important to me to support initiatives that focus on strengthening the health and vitality of the community and area.”
According to Kirk Green, a captain with the Salvation Army in Cranbrook, soup is a big part of the 12,000 meals served annually.
“Many of the meals we serve come from donates in the community and we are very appreciate of the generous support,” said Green. “But the need is great in our community and the Salvation Amry is focused on providing clients with the mosts nutritious and wholesome foods possible, so we are continuously seeking quality donations of both fresh and preserved items that nourish and sustain.”
The challenge is also getting some organizational support from the CDCF.
“We’re so thankful to Kootenay Granite for the title sponsorship and providing that metaphorical stone that results in a community feast,” said Riley Wilcox, the executive director for the CDCF. “This is a very exciting fundraising event that the community has rallied around. Chefs especially jumped at the opportunity to participate, and we are so thrilled with the high level of culinary talent that will be on display at the Salvation Army soup kitchen.”
Tickets for the final luncheon are available after Feb.15th and can be purchased at Max’s Place or through the CDCF office at 250-426-1119.