By Darla Shelden
City Sentinel Reporter
OKLAHOMA CITY, OK– Chefs and caterers throughout Oklahoma are invited to compete in the 5th Annual Tree to Table Benefit on Tuesday, October 30. The annual event challenges competitors to create a sweet or savory dish that highlights ingredients from trees, such as apples, chocolate, almonds or olives. Other ingredients may be used as well.
The #Tree2Table event is a fundraiser benefiting the Oklahoma Orchards and Tornado Re-Leaf programs of the Tree Bank Foundation.
The event will take place at Oklahoma City’s Farmer’s Public Market, 311 S. Klein Avenue.
The 2018 judging panel is led by Oklahoma native celebrity chef Rick Bayless (owner/chef of Frontera Fresco in San Francisco, 2009 Bravo Top Chef Masters winner) as Head Judge, along with long-time Oklahoma City chef and restaurateur Kurt Fleischfresser, renowned chef Marc Dunham, and food editor of The Oklahoman Dave Cathey.
Each competitor will be given $250 to purchase ingredients, listing in all press releases, signage at the event, and an 8-foot table on which to serve their dish and promote their business. The chefs must have a catering license, prepare their dish off-site and bring their own serving trays.
Four cash prizes will be awarded at the event, including the Fan Favorite which will be decided by event attendees. A judging panel will allocate the Best Savory Dish, Best Sweet Dish and the Tree to Table Champion.
“The Tree to Table Benefit is the perfect mix of food, fun and funding a good cause,” said Nicki Largent, Tree Bank Foundation executive director. “I am extremely excited about this year’s event because we have amazing judges and we already have so many talented chefs signing up. I simply cannot wait to see the dishes these chefs create.”
Chef’s that want to participate in the Tree to Table Benefit, can complete the online entry form or call 405-702-4050 for more information.
Previous competitors include last year’s champion Shelby Sieg of The Pritchard, Barbara Mock of Kam’s Kookery, Kevin Lee of Vast, David Henry of The Coach House, KC Ortega of the Wedge Pizzeria, Christine Dowd of Aunt Pittypat’s, Chase Doyle of Jazmoz Bourbon St. Café, and Ryan Parrott of Picasso Café.
The public is invited to attend to sample all of the submitted dishes.
VIP tickets ($150 each) are available for a special reception at 6 p.m., to meet Chef Bayless, a VIP “swag” bag, open bar pass and reserved seating for the main event.
Individual tickets ($75 each or two for $125) provide entry into the event at 6:30 p.m. to sample all the chef’s creations and one drink ticket. A cash bar will also be available.
The Tree Bank Foundation was founded in 1987 by volunteer supporters interested in promoting education, planting, care and beautification of our state through a wide network of organizations and individuals committed to distributing trees. Its mission is “to promote and plant trees to enrich Oklahoma communities”.
Tree Bank trees are found at public buildings, community gateways, neighborhood common areas, nonprofit agencies, along highways, in public parks and schools. These trees are available at wholesale & discounted prices to individuals and organizations for planting in public places.
Tree Bank programs include the Tornado Re-Leaf program, the Great Tree Giveaway, Oklahoma Orchards, Shade Trees on Playgrounds (STOP), Campus Trees, the Giving Tree, and various Oklahoma Tree Beautification projects.
Through the Orchards project, the Tree Bank planted over twenty fruit trees at the Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma to benefit the Urban Harvest program.
The Regional Food Bank works with four after-school programs in Oklahoma City (and several other programs during the summer) on a weekly or biweekly basis. The food grown in the Urban Harvest gardens is used in student cooking activities and is also sent home with students to share with their families.
“Oklahoma Orchards is one of my favorite programs because it shows how trees can have a direct effect on quality of life,” Largent stated. “The Tree Bank is so thrilled to help organizations like the Salvation Army and Regional Food Bank feed the hungry in a healthy, sustainable way.
Because Oklahoma has an average of 53 tornadoes annually. the Tree Bank partners with Keep Oklahoma Beautiful, Oklahoma Forestry Services and the Oklahoma Nursery and Landscape Association to provide trees, planting and maintenance education and volunteers to help plant trees in weather damaged areas.
“Any nonprofit, church or school or neighborhood association with a public interest can apply for trees,” Largent added. The value of the more than 220,000 trees brought to the state through the Tree Bank has been estimated to be more than $240 million at maturity.
To purchase tickets or sponsorships, or for more information, visit thetreebank.org.