Guests at last year’s Flavour of Chocolate gala chat with chefs before trying their dish

Guests at last year’s Flavour of Chocolate gala chat with chefs before trying their dish

Chocolate gala looking for daring chefs for event in Langford

Savoury dishes to raise awareness for West Shore women

Calling all chefs that like to tantalize tastebuds with the sweet and savoury taste of the cocoa bean while supporting local women furthering themselves through education.

Soroptimist International of Victoria Westshore is looking for chefs to participate in its second annual Flavour of Chocolate gala fundraiser event on Saturday, April 23 at the Westin Bear Mountain Golf Resort and Spa in Langford.

“It’s a really cool concept,” said Soroptimist club member Deb Alcadinho, the event organizer and fundraising co-chair. “It’s a total foodie event.”

Up to six chefs will go toe-to-toe, vying for guests’ votes with their chocolate creations. But if that isn’t enough to satisfy one’s taste buds, after the competition Sooke Harbour House’s renowned pastry chef, Matthias Conradi, will prepare a decadent dessert to finish off the evening meal.

Two chefs have already signed up for the challenge, including Westin Bear Mountain executive chef Mark Wadsworth, and last year’s event winner and Chopped Canada finalist Toivo Heyduck from Stewart, B.C.

“They provide their labour, ingredients and their time,” Alcadinho said, adding chefs will be provided with a $300 stipend to help with some of the costs. They’ll also bring a beverage partner to the gala dinner to pair the perfect libation with their creation.

“For foodies, they can really engage on a different level,” she said. “It’s very much a social, interactive event.” Despite the name, she added, Flavour of Chocolate isn’t “a total sweets fest.”

Chefs will prepare savoury small-plate creations that include elements of either chocolate or cocoa beans. These dishes are larger than tapas, but smaller than a main course.

“Their dishes were exquisite,” Alcadinho said of last year’s competition. “This is not a simple dish on a plate. They’re quite complex.” Some of last year’s creations included jerk chicken and chocolate pasta.

Along with a champagne reception, the culinary competition and decadent dessert, the Soroptimist club will present three financial awards to young women to help further their education. The evening also includes a performance by a classical music trio and a silent auction to help support the club’s three signature projects: Imagining Possibilities, a one-day conference aimed at teaching life skills to women aged 15 to 24; Anney’s Closet, which provides donated household items for at-risk women getting a fresh start, and the many financial awards to help women fund their education.

“Our whole mandate is to support women to reach their full potential,” Alcadinho said. “Educated women will change their family dynamics (and) their communities. It just has a ripple effect.”

If you’re not a chef, but want to see what these chefs have cooked up, she recommended purchasing tickets early, as last year’s event sold out a month in advance. “It was a huge success.”

For more information or to purchase tickets, go to flavourofchocolate.com or if you’re an interested chef, email Alcadinho at deb@wwbnvictoria.com.

katie@goldstreamgazette.com