Shelby Schiller reached back into her childhood to win the Kootenay Granite Stone Soup Challenge.
A chef at BJ’s Restaurant and Creekside Pub in Kimberley, Schiller made a tomato beef soup that has been in the family since she was a little girl.
“We grew up with a lot of people in my family so we did a lot of gardening and stuff ourselves, so my baba [grandma] had her own canned, jarred tomatoes and that was the staple,” Schiller said. “We always had cabbage, carrots, onions and celery, so she just made soup out of it one day.
“That was the first thing my mom—I can remember her teaching me how to make it.”
In a packed ballroom at the Prestige Rocky Mountain Resort, the Stone Soup Challenge concluded as Schiller went head-to-head with Kathy Morey, the Salvation Army’s own soup kitchen cook.
Morey went up against Schiller with a rosemary chicken and wild rice soup that is close to her heart as well, being that it’s her son’s favourite soup recipe.
“I came home with a roasted rosemary chicken one day and made it into a soup and he just fell in love with it,” Morey said. “He’s more of a chicken person than a meat person.”
The two had $125 to spend on ingredients to make a soup of their own choice, which was served to everyone in the room, as well as the judges table, which included Mayor Lee Pratt, Councillor Danielle Cardozo and Jason Wheeldon.
Cardozo, a former contestant on MasterChef Canada, joked that she was glad to switch places and be on the other side of the table as a judge. She noted that both soups were great, but without identifying which one, added that one particular culinary creation brought back childhood memories of home cooking.
After winning the preliminary and semifinal rounds, Schiller thought about using her time-honoured recipe once she got into the final.
“It really kind of sticks with what Jody was saying—she wanted something affordable for low-income families to make and this only costs for a five-litre pot, maybe $10 or $15, depending on how expensive your cans of tomatoes are,” Schiller said.
“It’s low-prep. It takes maybe 20 minutes to get it all done and into the pot to boil so I kind of wanted to go along those lines.
The preliminary and semifinal rounds were hosted by the Salvation Army soup kitchen, so the two were in unfamiliar territory heading into Tuscany’s for the final, all while their own chefs and servers were in operation.
Graham Barnes (Max’s Place), Rusty Cox (Heidout Restaurant and Brewhouse), Doug Wagner, (St. Eugene Mission Resort), Marc Rathpoller (Tuscany’s) and Barb Smythe (Roadhouse Grill) also participated in the event, which served as a fundraiser for the Salvation Army and the Cranbrook and District Community Foundation.
The $10,000 raised will go towards the 24/7 homeless shelter project for the Salvation Army, while the CDCF will put their share towards the general endowment fund.
“Last year we provided over 990 shelter nights to individuals who are within the community and that’s what this is geared for to not only raise money for the district foundation but for our shelter project,” said Salvation Army Captain Kirk Green.
“…I can tell you here in the community there are many, many homeless individuals.”
For all the chefs, and especially for Schiller and Morey, the Stone Soup Challenge was a rewarding experience.
“It’s been so nice to cook at the Salvation Army and cook for those people. They’re so grateful. You go to work everyday and there’s always that stress factor,” Schiller said.
“…A lot of chefs do it for a paycheque and you lose sight of the love sometimes and it really brought that back. This was just fun and helping people out—it was really good.”
Added Morey: “It was overwhelming. Amazing. A great turnout and so much support for the Salvation Army. I am so glad Shelby won this event with her family homemade soup and it was an awesome experience.”