Chef Rusty Cox of Heid Out takes out last year’s winner Chef Shelby Schiller of BJ’s Restaurant

Semi-final challenge match-ups will take place Tuesday and Friday

Shelby and Rusty

This was a first-round match-up neither chef wanted to see. Chef Rusty Cox of The Heid Out Restaurant and Brewhouse and Chef Shelby Schiller of BJ’s Diner and Creekside Pub, Kimberley, are friends.

They would have preferred not to face each other in the first round of competition, but dreamed of meeting in the grand finale on March 2 to share in the stone soup glory.

But fate would have is differently: Schiller drew Cox’s name at the kick-off press conference, sealing their first-round face-off.

Conspiracy theories have ran wild. Rumours of the chefs throwing the competition in favour of friendship buzzed throughout East Kootenay kitchens. The rumours — denied aggressively by each chef — were put to rest once and for all when secret challenge ingredients were unveiled.

The chefs did their very best to throw the other off. Schiller challenged Cox to use a pecan pie in his daily soup, which he accepted, therefore earning five extra points towards the final vote. However, in a surprise twist, Chef Cox did not present Schiller with an additional secret ingredient, preventing her from taking the five possible points. The Cranbrook and District Community Foundation supported Cox in his out-of-the box strategy and allowed the move.

Interestingly enough, the chefs both chose to make soups that highlighted similar flavours. Schiller created a steak goulash, while Cox answered with a steak vegetable soup. Both were crowd pleasers.

After many laughs, a few leg kicks and good-natured teasing, Cox reigned supreme by a vote of 27 to 16. However, the vote may have been much closer, had Shelby had her bonus points within reach.

Semi-final match-ups, sponsored by Columbia Basin Trust, will begin Tuesday, February 23, with Chef Lindsay Waugh of Hot Shots Café taking on Chef Graham Barnes of Max’s Place.

Friday, Chef Carmen Alaric of the Salvation Army will challenge today’s winner, Rusty Cox.

The victorious chefs from each of the semi-final events will move onto the grand finale public fundraiser Wednesday, March 2, noon to 1:30 p.m. The final event, sponsored by Investors Group, takes place at the Prestige Rocky Mountain Resort. Tickets to the soup-off are available in two prices: $25 for lunch; or, $45 for lunch and a $20 charitable receipt. They can be purchased with cash at Max’s Place, through the CDCF office by calling 250.426.1119 or online through Snapd East Kootenay.


Sheby Schiller and Rusty Cox