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Food, fanfare and fun—all for the kids


Best of Chefs



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Chef John Panakio of the Mountain Club on Loon, center, explains his dish to Taylor Beaudin during the Best of Chefs competition Sunday night in Lincoln. Bart King. (click for larger version)
March 24, 2010
LINCOLN—Delicious food, non-stop fun, and dancing toddlers, plus it's all for a good cause. These qualities are what make the Best of Chefs a successful fundraiser year after year for the Lincoln-Woodstock Community Child Care Center (LWCCCC).

The event, which pits local restaurants from the Lin-Wood area against each other in a one of a kind competition, celebrated its 15th consecutive year this past Sunday at the Beacon Resort in Lincoln.

Each restaurant that participates gets a chance to prepare whatever food it chooses in an effort to win distinction in a number of categories, such as best appetizer, best entrée, and best dessert or the grand prize of $500 and the coveted plaque distinguishing the restaurant as the best overall in town.

Those attending have the opportunity to taste all the food as much as they want and vote on which restaurants they feel deserve to win. It is similar to the Academy Awards, except there are no actors or directors, just talented chefs and proud restaurant managers.

The winners this year were as follows: Fratello's Restaurant had the best salad with their house salad and Elvio's had the best pizza with their buffalo chicken pizza. The best entrée went to the Woodstock Station for their ribs while the Common Man developed the most delectable dessert with their white chocolate bread pudding. But the biggest winner of the night was the Indian Head Resort as they won best appetizer, best sandwich, and the title of best restaurant in town.

"We felt proud and excited to win," commented Melanie Berreondo, a server for the winning restaurant. "It was a fun experience and enjoyable to see everyone so involved in helping the community daycare."

Adam Parker, the head chef at the Indian Head, is a seasoned veteran and has won many cooking contests throughout his career, including a prestigious national competition, but never the title of "the Best of the Chefs." "It was nice to be recognized like this," he said, "but the real winners are the kids and the center. This is all for them and they deserve it."

The money raised will go towards enhancing the early development programs at the center and making it more manageable for families to afford tuition.

It is not easy to pull off an event like this. "It took a lot of teamwork and organization," remarked Shannon Chase, the director of the center. "We all just really dove into it with a lot of hard work and the community was great."

All of that work was well worth it too. "This night was an amazing success," Chase added. "I think it was our best yet. We sold out and had to refuse people at the door unfortunately."

But there were no young kids refused. In fact a lot of them showed up with their parents to support the very center they attend. There was a designated area where the children could mingle and play with a number of toys and puzzles. There was even a dance party on the center stage once dinner was over, with the kids putting smiles on the faces in the crowd and igniting laughter throughout the building. Such an atmosphere reflects that of the center.

"I would not choose to go to any other daycare for my children," commented Dori Weeden, of Lincoln, who sends her kids to the center on a daily basis. "The one-on-one attention and the relationship between the student and the teacher are just phenomenal. Tonight was a lot of fun for both adults and children and I will continue to support this great non-profit organization."

Hopefully the same numbers will come out in support next year for the sweet 16th year of the Best of Chefs. The restaurants of the Lincoln-Woodstock area prepare their best dishes to raise money for the LWCCCC, which goes straight to helping the development of the youngsters in the community—because something has to keep them dancing.

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