On a snowy Saturday, Felicia and I headed to Mount Royal Arts Core School in Highlands to attend the second annual Culinary Cook-Off. A brainchild of Karlynn Johnson (aka The Kitchen Magpie), the Cook-Off is a great way to engage the wider community, raise awareness of Mount Royal’s arts programming, and of course, raise funds for the school! In its inaugural year, the cook-off featured mac and cheese (which we sadly missed); this year, the competition centred around sliders. Given the blustery conditions, comfort food was the perfect way to warm up!
We arrived about an hour into the event, and the school was buzzing with activity. We were given a handy map as soon as we walked in, charting out where we could find the ticket cashier, silent auction items and the slider contenders. My only minor suggestion would be that a listing of slider names next to each competitor would have been appreciated – it was hard to keep them straight by the end!
One busy gym!
Each slider was priced at only $2, so for $16, Felicia and I were able to try all eight options. It was incredibly affordable, and I can imagine organizers could increase the price in years to come with minimum consequence.
We loved that all competitors were easily identifiable with banners above their station, and a few of the tables featured signage indicating the name and ingredients featured in their creation. I’m sure the chefs without such signage tired of having to repeat this very basic information, so hopefully all competitors will be encouraged to have these details readily on display.
Sliders were comprised of pulled pork, beef and seafood, and it was great to see the creativity inherent in all of them. We were also impressed to find out that most restaurants baked their own buns for the competition!
Felicia chows down
Standouts for us included The Marc’s ground sirloin and bacon slider, topped with bacon jam and sauerkraut (we loved the sweetness) and Harvest Catering’s Creole shrimp and salmon slider (the cornbread bun definitely set it apart).
“The Big Marc” from The Marc
Creole shrimp and salmon slider from Harvest Catering
Our favourite, however, had to be the dim sum slider offered by Murrieta’s. Inspired by siu mai, the pork and shrimp patty was topped with daikon, a fried wonton chip, and served on a honey bun.
The dim sum slider from Murrieta’s
We stayed for the announcement of winners in the three categories:
- Judges Choice: Murrieta’s
- People’s Choice: The Marc
- Kids Choice: The Manor, with their top sirloin slider, featuring a slice of fried potato
We really enjoyed ourselves – bravo to the organizers, participating restaurants and volunteers for a wonderful event. Here’s looking forward to next year!
Check out my full photoset here.