Kootenay Granite Stone Soup Challenge kicks off Feb. 16

First competition sees friends and colleagues Chef Rusty Cox and Chef Graham Barnes go toe-to-toe



(L-R) With a plastic butter knife and can of mushroom soup, Chef Rusty Cox crosses enemy lines into Max’s Place Thursday morning for a pre-competition photo with his Kootenay Granite Stone Soup challenger and friend Chef Graham Barnes, who is in the midst of preparing his own delicious daily soup feature.

CRANBROOK – The first match-up of the Kootenay Granite Stone Soup Challenge pairs Chef Rusty Cox of The Heid Out Restaurant and Brewhouse against Chef Graham Barnes of Max’s Place.

The two chefs will put their culinary creativity to the test in the soup kitchen at the Salvation Army in Cranbrook, each preparing a daily soup using only the donated ingredients on hand. They will serve lunch to Salvation Army clients, who will vote on their favourite soup. The Cranbrook chefs, and friends, have a high degree of comradery and respect for one another.

“I hope I don’t get blueberries, mushrooms, and parsnips, but if I do I’ll make it work,” says Cox, who is keeping his one culinary tool of choice allowed into the competition a secret. “No idea what to expect but it will be a lot of fun and probably stressful working in a different kitchen.”

When asked if he has any words for his challenger Chef Barnes, Cox is all business, with a sly wink on the side, “Graham…can’t talk, I’m working,” he says.

“I definitely like the fact we’re going into this without knowing what to expect,” says Barnes. “I always enjoy a challenge; and going up against Rusty, my boss from years ago, adds a little extra kick to it!”

As for any pre-competition words to his former boss, Barnes has only one question: “Rusty — ya wanna dance?!”

Two other Round 1 chef match-ups also take place next week:

  • Chef Shelby Schiller, BJ’s Diner and Creekside Pub, Kimberley, and Chef Barb Smythe, The Roadhouse Grill, Cranbrook; on Tuesday, Feb 17;
  • Chef Marc Rathpoller, Tuscany’s, and Sous Chef Doug Wagner, St Eugene Mission Resort, Cranbrook on Friday February 20.

The last two chefs standing will compete at an exciting luncheon fundraiser on March 4, noon to 1:30 p.m. at the Prestige Rocky Mountain Resort. Tickets to the public event 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.

Proceeds are in support of the Salvation Army in their efforts to build a 24/7 shelter in Cranbrook for homeless men, women, and families throughout the East Kootenay, as well as the Cranbrook and District Community Foundation (CDCF) general endowment fund, which provides annual grants to non-profit organizations in the community.