I lost at Canoecopia’s Aluminum Chef Competition

I spent last weekend in Madison, Wisconsin speaking at Rutabaga’s Canoecopia – North America’s largest paddle show. It’s an incredible show, with six presentations going on every hour for three solid days, each having an audiences ranging from 100-700 people.

I met some kindred spirits there and met some famous writers and speakers, including Jon Turk and Jon Bowermaster. I presented on my Wilderness Pleasures book and Quetico, but I also filled in for Gary McGuffin for this year’s Annual Aluminum Chef Competition. I dueled with Chef Joey (professional chef) and Chef Marty (professional guide), with nothing but a box of food and our culinary wits in a true outdoor style. No Viking ranges, stainless steel tables, or sous chefs…just three chefs going mano a mano.

…and I lost!

I did manage to win awards for “best pita bread throwing style at the audience,” and “best friendly harassment of the MSR stove sponsor.” I also won the prestigious award for “best laughable moment during the event” when I lost my nuts!

While I was preparing my dessert – which I swear Marty slipped salt into when I wasn’t looking – I desperately searched for my bag of cashews to place on the top of my fruit salad. Just when I was about to replace it with another ingredient, a very attractive woman from the audience yelled out “I have your nuts.” She ran up to the stage and handed me a bag of her own cashews stored in her purse. I thanked her and then proceeded to crush them with my foot on the stage. The woman gasped (I guess she was thinking I’d only take a few from the bag, not the entire collection). I then ran up to my post besides the cooking stove, and low and behold found my bag of cashews right where I had left them. So, I returned the bag of crushed up nuts back to the woman from the audience, stating I no longer needed to borrow hers, and continued on cooking.

The audience laughed hysterically, and I won the award for the funniest moment at Canoecopia’s Aluminum Chef Competition.

Mart came in first (because he cheated), the professional Chef Joey won second) because he had his cute two-year old boy on stage with him), and I won third (or what Marty kept emphasizing to be “last place”).

I’ve already been asked to take part in next year’s competition and I’ll make sure to have plenty of nuts to win first place.