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Next Urban Chef contest chops off at Eastern Market

This year's MI Apple Gala, a benefit for Eastern Market, will offer patrons a new twist -- the chance to witness the city's first Next Urban Chef competition. It's all taking place Oct. 14 at Shed 3 in the market (click here for tickets).

Recycle Here!'s Matthew Naimi says the live cook-off will raise awareness of Detroit's "food shed," the local fresh food system extending through Ontario, southeast Michigan and northern Ohio (of which Eastern Market is the hub). Supino Pizzeria owner Dave Mancini will face-off against Phil Jones, the former executive chef at Lola's and incoming chef at Colors Detroit. The two chefs will be supported by a team of non-professional Detroiters both young and old, including several DPS students mentored as cooking assistants.

"This is as much about the chefs as it is about the youth that are involved," Naimi says. "We really are trying to show youth in the city of Detroit, especially, that there are careers in the food system -- from cooking and fine dining to producing food, processing food or growing food. It's all part of our food shed."

Here's how it works. Each team will receive an ingredient box of produce, meats, grains and spices (all from food shed producers). They'll have an hour to produce a unique meal, judged on the merits of innovation, creativity, taste and presentation.

The Next Urban Chef contest is just the beginning of a series, Naimi says. He says Mancini and Jones' community work made them natural choices for the first head-to-head challenge. "Dave has helped a lot of the small food groups get started with his kitchen, and by being a very giving person," he says. "And Phil Jones did a lot of work with the Food Policy Council. And his work with the Colors kitchen lends itself to working with youth and others."

Bite into more here.
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