Fernie Rotary member Kevin McIsaac is firing up the barbecue for a cooking challenge on May 26. Kimberley Vlasic/The Free Press

Fernie barbecue chef challenge this weekend

May 26 cook off to showcase local talent and produce, while raising funds for Fernie Rotoary

Fire up the grill; the Rotary Club is on the hunt for the best barbecue chefs in Fernie.

On May 26, six amateur and six professional chefs will pick up the tongs to go head to head in the Fernie Rotary BBQ Challenge at Station Square.

The event will showcase local talent and produce, while raising funds for Rotary, an international service organization.

“Both fundraising but also as a fun and enjoyable community event, and an opportunity for chefs to get out of the kitchen and people to show off their barbecue skills,” said organizer and long-time Rotary member, Kevin McIsaac.

It’s not the first time a barbecue challenge has been held in Fernie.

The event previously featured as part of Taste Fernie and was wildly successful, according to McIsaac.

“We had celebrity judges come and trophies to give out, and prizes,” he said.

“There’s been lots of people stopping me on the street over the years saying, ‘hey, when are you going to bring back that great event?’.”

This year’s barbecue challenge will run in a similar format to previous events, with a panel of celebrity and local judges.

It will be attended by 200 guests, who will have a chance to sample dishes at each station and vote for their favourite.

McIsaac said all but one chef position has been filled with room for one more amateur and application forms available online.

Their only criteria is to cook on a barbecue or smoker.

“We have a shocking number of great chefs in town, for the size of our town,” said McIsaac.

“The previous barbecue challenge, which was primarily just a bunch of people that I knew and called, and said ‘hey, would you like to come and barbecue stuff’. Even the level of cooking at that time was fantastic. And I know Lee (from event sponsor Sysco) has been working hard to get some very interesting professionals out, so I think people will be very, very pleased at the quality of food that they’re going to get.”

Tickets cost $50 and must be purchased in advance. They are available at Scotiabank Fernie, Fernie Distillers or online at Fernierotary.org.

There will be no tickets sold at the gate.

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