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Chefs ready to battle at New Richmond Rotary event

John Tapper (left), sous-chef for Brady's Brewhouse, and Mary Caudy of Douville Bakery and Catering will square off in the first ever 2013 Chef's Showcase Showdown on Sunday, April 21.

Two local chefs will participate in a head-to-head competition as part of this year's St. Croix Art & Culinary Show.

The 2013 Chef's Showcase Showdown will feature John Tapper, sous-chef at Brady's Brewhouse, and Mary Caudy of Douville Bakery and Catering.

"I'm very much looking forward to it," Caudy said. "I won the crockpot cookoff in Deer Park a few weeks ago, so I had enough self-esteem to enter this contest."

Caudy said it's not the first chef challenge she's ever participated in. She is the oldest of 11 children and had to "learn how to fry eggs sunny side up in one pan."

Caudy said she was glad to participate because it's all for a good cause - scholarships for local students.

Tapper said he doesn't think there will be much trash talking prior to the showdown, but he's looking forward to the event.

"I thought it would be fun," he said of his reason for throwing his chef hat into the ring. "I like to compete. I was in a couple competitions in college."

Tapper said he'll be trying out several recipes over the next few weeks and then decide what dish he will prepare that night. "I'm going to keep my options open," he said.

Patterned after "The Iron Chef" on the Food Network, the showdown requires the two chefs to plan, prepare and serve a special recipe for nine judges at the eighth annual show from 5 to 8 p.m. Sunday, April 21.

Earlier that day, Caudy and Tapper will shop at Family Fresh Market in New Richmond for their ingredients. Each can spend up to $100 for the competition.

The chefs will arrive at the event, being held at R&D Catering Banquet Facility, by 5:45 p.m. and prepare their ingredients for the showdown. Just before the showdown begins, the chefs will be given two "secret ingredients" that they will be required to incorporate into their recipe.

The competition starts promptly at 6 p.m. and chefs have until 6:40 p.m. to complete their dish.

Nine judges will be randomly selected from attendees. They will vote on which chef's dish is the winner.

According to Lisa Woletz, executive director of the New Richmond Area Chamber of Commerce and an Art & Culinary Show committee member, the top chef will be crowned "2013 Chef Superstar of the SCACSCSS (St. Croix Art & Culinary Show Chef's Showcase Showdown)."

"This is brand new and we're really excited about it," Woletz said. "It's going to be a great time."

The showdown takes the place of food preparation demonstrations that were part of the Art & Culinary Show in previous years, Woletz said.

"Every year, we want to offer something new and exciting to the event," she explained.

Much of the event remains the same, however. A total of 15 artists will be demonstrating their skills and exhibiting some of their pieces. Throughout the event there will silent auctions, raffle drawings and a live auction to help raise money.

There will be food samples served throughout the evening, including everything from appetizers to entrees to desserts. About 12 culinary experts have signed on to cook for the evening.

Various beverages and spirits will also be served up, including wine, 45th Parallel spirits, and beer from Brady's Brewhouse and American Sky Beer.

Proceeds from the night support Rotary Club of New Richmond projects, including the STRIVE Scholarship program that offers incentives to senior students who work to improve their overall grade point average during their final year of high school.

Tickets for the Art & Culinary Show are $40 in advance and $45 at the door (if it isn't sold out). Tickets can now be purchased at the Chamber office, The Deerfield, Ready Randy's and from any Rotary member.