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Pics From This Year’s Celebrity & Chef Cookoff

Posted on June 15, 2018 by under Events.    

The Wichita Orpheum’s Celebrity & Chef Cookoff was held almost a month earlier than usual this year. As luck would have it, I happened to be in town so Brian and I were fortunate enough to be able to attend. I was so happy because it’s one of Brian’s all-time favorite fundraising events. And, this year our VP of Customer Operations Jeff Beasley was one of the competitors.


He was paired with 6S Steakhouse‘s Kayson Chong and their team was dubbed “The New Guys.” Presumably because they’re both somewhat new in town.


Reverie Coffee‘s Stephanie Hand teamed up with Roger Scholfield. Their team was called “The Cookie Monsters” because Stephanie enjoys baking cookies and Roger enjoys eating them.


Team “Bon Appetit Artistes” consisted of Sienna Tuscan Steakhouse‘s Josh Rathbun and Mark Arts‘ Katy Dorrah.


District VI City Council Member Cindy Claycomb teamed up with Woodfire Grille‘s Jennifer Reifschneider, who happened to win last year’s event. Their team was known as “The Boss Ladies.”


Next there’s “The Cut Ups” team of Ben George from SAVOR at Intrust Bank Arena and Bill Gardner of Gardner Design.


Lastly, there’s Cynthia Wilson of Parsnipity Cafe and Lumpiapalooza, Jennifer Ray, owner of the Monarch. Their team was known as “The Downtown Divas.”


Jeff and Kayson looked like they were having a blast up on the stage.


Everyone was cooking up a storm up there.


We really enjoyed watching all the celebrities and chefs cook their hearts out that night. Defending champion Jennifer Reifscheider was looking for a repeat but it was not to be. The big winners that evening were Stephanie Hand for “best use of the main ingredient” and overall winner Josh Rathbun.


The craziest part of the evening was that Brian and I almost didn’t get in. I forgot to check my mailbox earlier and didn’t realize I was supposed to have tickets for the event. Luckily for us, Jimmy Washington came to our rescue and got us through the door without our tickets. You can do things like that when you’re a big shot. I found my tickets in my mailbox days later.

I’m usually out of town Monday through Thursday so I’m used to only checking my work mailbox on Fridays. The event was on a Tuesday night. I didn’t realize that I had tickets because I forgot to check my mailbox on Monday and Tuesday. I’m such a dingbat, I know. I haven’t forgotten to check my mailbox since!


Anyway, here are a few more photos from the event.


Here’s a picture of our great looking group. From left, starting with the lovely lady next to me, Erica and Jimmy Martinez, Jeff and Flo Beasley, Evette and Jimmy Washington, Bridget and Glenn Bowman, Don Sherman, and, of course, Brian front and center. He is the ultimate group selfie picture taker.


Obligatory selfie, just cause.


This is us earlier that night when were trying to figure out how to get in without our tickets and we ran into my friend from Leadership Wichita, Jessica Dunbar. We are very lucky that we still got to attend the event despite the whole ticket situation. I would have been really sad to miss Jeff’s Celebrity & Chef Cookoff debut. Plus, it’s such a fun event. I hope we get to go again next year.

Stay tuned for the next post! GNG.

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Fun Times at Celebrity & Chef Cookoff

Posted on June 23, 2016 by under Events.    


Brian and I had a great time at the Celebrity & Chef Cookoff last week. Thanks to our friend Jimmy for the tickets.


Lily Wu did a great job of emceeing the event. The celebrities who competed this year were Eric Fisher (Eric Fisher Salon & Academy), Andrew Gough (Reverie Coffee Roasters), Mike Grbic (Select Homes), Dr. Patricia McDonnell (Wichita Art Museum), Lela Meadow-Conner (Tallgrass Film Festival), Sierra Scott (The Brett & Sierra Show), Dr. Anthony Vizzini (Wichita State University), and Aaron Wirtz (CurveBreak). The chefs were Paul Freimuth (Harvest Kitchen), Ben George (Savor at Intrust Bank Arena), Paul Guerrero (Ya Ya’s Euro Bistro), Jeremiah Harvey (Candle Club), Luciano Mottola (Luciano’s), Jeremey Pacacha (Eurest Dining Services), Jennifer Reifschneider (Kansas Star Casino), and Jeremy Wade (Siena Tuscan Steakhouse).


The teams were announced just shortly before the cooking commenced. Our friend Aaron was paired with Ya Ya’s Paul Guerrero. It was a great pairing. They ended up taking first place. Second place went to the team of Dr. McDonnell and Candle Club’s Jeremiah Harvey. Sierra Scott and Siena’s Jeremy Wade finished in third.

There seemed to be fewer tasting tables this year than last year but it was still a fantastic even overall. Kudos to the organizers. Brian and I love this event. It’s one of our favorites. We were really bummed the year that we celebrated Brian’s 40th birthday in the Dominican Republic because we missed the cookoff that year.

I hope we get to go again next year.

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2015 Celebrity & Chef Cookoff

Posted on June 15, 2015 by under Events.    

Brian and I had a blast at the Celebrity & Chef Cookoff on Tuesday night. It’s a benefit for the Wichita Orpheum Theatre and it’s one of our favorite fundraising events.


We missed it last year because we were celebrating Brian’s 40th birthday in the Dominican Republic. Our friend Jimmy (pictured above) who is on the Orpheum board was nice enough to save us a spot at the table this year.

The event has grown so much since the last time we attended in 2013. The event was held at the Wichita Marriott hotel that year. Because of the increased attendance they had to move the event to the Intrust Bank Arena last year and that’s where the event was held again this year.


Brian and I are nerds and actually asked for permission to park in the special Lexus VIP parking lot across from the arena. Lots of other people parked there but I didn’t see any other yellow hang tags. I guess we didn’t have to ask for permission after all because it was pretty much open to the public. LOL. We always follow the rules, though.


I’m not sure if they did the same thing last year but this year they had our bid numbers printed on our wristbands. It made me feel like a hospital patient, which was odd, but made bidding really convenient so, in that regard, it was brilliant.

I didn’t really find anything that I couldn’t live without in the silent auction but some of the live auction packages were really good. I really wanted the “Movie Night at the Orpheum” package where you could have a private movie night for up to 1,200 guests, which would be great for a birthday or anniversary celebration. The package included free popcorn and fountain drinks for 500 people. If only we had that many friends!

The other package that we found appealing was the “Rock the Intrust Bank Arena” package for a concert suite, food, and beverages at the Intrust Bank Arena for the Boston and Blue Oyster Cult concert on August 9. The package includes use of the concert suite, 16 tickets (which is about how many friends we have that might be interested in going), 3 parking passes and $500 to spend on food and beverages (not including sales tax and gratuity). This would have been a perfect way to celebrate our 13th wedding anniversary, which is on the 10th. Alas, the bidding started out at our max budget. LOL.

I think they had record-breaking attendance this year and they also had great participation from area restaurants who generously donated food and services for the event. We got to try food from restaurants we haven’t even visited.

The following restaurants hosted tasting tables:

  • Bella Vita Bistro
  • Bob & Luigi’s
  • Café 402
  • Delicious Deliveries
  • Firebirds Wood Fired Grill
  • Freddy’s Frozen Custard & Steakburgers
  • Jersey’s Grill & Bar
  • Kanai Sushi
  • Lotus Leaf Café
  • Lou’s Charcuteria
  • Mead’s Corner
  • Molino’s Mexican Cuisine
  • Old Mill Tasty Shop
  • Chef Jeremy Pacacha
  • Rocco’s Little Italy
  • SAVOR at Intrust Bank Arena
  • Taste & See/Gianni Bacci’s
  • Todd Brian’s Brick Street Café & Tavern
  • Twizted Confections
  • Wagonmasters
  • Woodfire Grille at Kansas Star Casino

Brian and I had two totally different strategies for sampling all the food. I ate as I went so I was completely full halfway through, which was a real bummer because I really wanted to try everything. Brian, on the other hand, collected food from almost all of the tasting tables before feasting.


Brian brought almost a dozen little plates back to our table. This is a picture of just a few of them. It was quite hilarious. I think both times he ran into Chef Jason, who was one of the judges, he had several plates full of food in his hands.

The other judges included Bobby Lane, Chester’s Chophouse Executive Chef, and Denise Neil, Wichita Eagle food columnist/writer. The late Tanya Tandoc was also slated to judge. May her beautiful soul rest in peace.

The team of Ben George, Executive Chef of SAVOR at Intrust Bank Arena, and Adam Mills, President and CEO of the Kansas Restaurant and Hospitality Association won this year’s cookoff. Other celebrities who participate in challenge included Barbara Baan, host of KSN’s Baan Appetit; Dan Ihm, Vice Present and General Manager of the Kansas Star Casino; Coleen Jennison, Cox Communications Market Vice President for Kansas; Mayor Jeff Longwell; Gary Oborny, Occidental Management Chairman/CEO; Scott Redler, Freddy’s Frozen Custard & Steakburgers Vice President/COO; and Jon Rosell, Executive Director of the Medical Society of Sedgwick County (MSSC).

The other chefs who competed were John Conklin, Rocco’s Little Italy; second place finisher Jason Fisher, Café 402 located inside the Downtown Wichita YMCA; Paul Freimuth, Harvest Kitchen located at the Hyatt Regency; Paul Guerrero, Firebirds Wood Fired Grill; Jim McNulty, Kansas Star Casino; Jeremy Pacacha, Eurest Dining Services at Spirit Aerosystems; and third place finisher and last year’s co-champion Adrian Prud Homme de Lodder, Bella Vita Bistro.


Even though four-time champion Chef Jason Febres (of Taste & See/Gianni Bacci’s) wasn’t competing this year there was some stiff competition. When I walked by to take these photos, I could tell that they were cooking up some amazing stuff based on the aromas wafting through the air.


What an amazing event, benefitting a great cause — the Wichita Orpheum Theatre. We try to support the theater by attending events there every chance we get. Anyway, I hope Brian and I have the opportunity to attend the event again next year.

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2013 Celebrity & Chef Cookoff

Posted on June 12, 2013 by under Events.    


Brian and I had a great time at the 2013 Celebrity & Chef Cookoff last night. It’s a benefit for the Wichita Orpheum. The event was sold out so Brian and I both felt so fortunate to have gotten tickets at the last minute.




This year’s celebrities included Judy Adams, Wichita State University women’s basketball head coach; Marc Bennett, Sedgwick County District Attorney; Linda Brantner, Delta Dental of Kansas President & CEO; Wayne Chambers, High Touch CEO; Jeff Korsmo, Via Christi Health President & CEO; Mark Larson, KWCH Meteorologist; Michael O’Donnell, State of Kansas Senator; and Roger Scholfield, Scholfield Honda President. The chefs this year were Kevin Derks, Newport Grill; Ben George, Treat America at Beech Activity Center; Jake Lippincott, Pretroleum Club; Martin Martinez, Candle Club; Jim McNulty, Kansas Star Casino; Peter Moretti, Wichita Marriott; Marshall Roth, Siena Tuscan Steakhouse at Ambassador Hotel; and Nathan Toubia, Bocconcini Italian Eatery. Three-time champion Chef Jason Febres returned this year as one of the judges. Denise Neil, Wichita Eagle restaurant reviewer; Joe Stumpe, freelance journalist; and Suzanne Tobias, Wichita Eagle family and education writer, complete the rest of this year’s judging panel.


Brian and I got to sample delicious creations by The Anchor, Bocconcini Italian Eatery, Taste & See, Bella Luna, Bob & Luigi’s, Cake Face Bake Shop & Deli, Fat Jewish Girl Catering, Olive Tree, Wichita Marriott, On the Border, Petroleum Club, Public at the Brickyard, Siena Tuscan Steakhouse, A Taste of Art, Treat America, Wagonmasters, etc. We’ve dined at many of the places, but there were a few we’d never tried before. The food was plentiful and the alcoholic beverage flowed freely. The Orpheum folks sure know how to party.


We had a great group from work last night. Ginger attended with her two daughters. Karen came with her husband Don. Patrice, Bridget, and Jimmy (who is actually on the Board of Directors of the Wichita Orpheum) also attended. We had a table full of fun people. A few of us actually won some silent auction items.


There was one live auction item that I wanted, the movie night at the Orpheum, but the price quickly escalated. I think it went for almost $5000. Whoa! It’s scary how high those live auction items go for. One guy accidentally made a bid while waving his bottomless martini order over. The auctioneer was like, “This is a live auction. You can’t be waiving your arms about.” Shortly after that, I almost did the same thing when I was waving good by to some of the members of our group as they were leaving. Ooops! Good thing Brian quickly made me put my arms down. LOL.

There was one table that seemed to bid and win everything. Although, the biggest winner of the evening was Siena’s Marshall Roth when he was anointed winner of the 2013 Celebrity & Chef Cookoff. They were at the table next to ours and the entire table erupted in gleeful celebration when the winner was announced.


Brian and I had a fabulous time. I hope we get invited back next year!

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Starting and Ending the Year with Zumba

Posted on January 1, 2017 by under Events, Life, Zumba.    

Remember how I was so happy that I was able to teach Zumba on January 1, 2016? If not, here’s a short video to refresh your memory.

Guess what, New Year’s Eve 2016 fell on a Saturday so I got to teach a class on NYE also. I love how I had the rare opportunity to start and end the year with a Zumba class. It couldn’t have been more perfect.


These are just a few of the people who stuck around for a group photo following our NYE Zumba class at Andover YMCA.

Much like the previous year, 2016 has been a memorable one. Brian and I went on the first ever Zumba cruise. Here are some of the highlights of the trip:

SIDENOTE: There’s actually a second Zumba cruise coming up which sails in April. If you would like to go, please use my affiliate code (461028) when you book to receive $25 onboard credit.

This truly was the year of Zumba for me, actually. Not only did we get to go on the Zumba cruise, I also got a tour of Zumba Home Office while on a work trip in Florida. And, not only that, I also got to go to ZINCON again!

The significance of last year’s ZINCON is that it was the 10th anniversary of the Zumba Instructor Network (ZIN). However, I am very much looking forward to going to ZINCON again this year because it will be the 10th anniversary of the convention itself. (There was no convention during the first year of the Zumba Instructor Network. The first ZINCON didn’t happen until the year after.)


One of the highlights of this year’s ZINCON was meeting performer Max Pizzolante and his wife Maritza Bustamante. He is the singer behind a couple of songs in my current Zumba playlist: Quien Quiere Bailar, Vive Y Baila.

I actually plan to add another Max Pizzolante song to the playlist very, very soon. Stay tuned, Zumba pals!

Vive Y Baila is one of my favorite songs to do in Zumba class right now so I’m posting a video of it here for you:

Besides traveling for Zumba, Brian and I got to do some traveling for work as well.

Other trips we’ve made this year include…

Brian and I also had the privilege of attending or helping with several amazing events/benefits this past year:

There are so many worthy causes out there and these organizations need our help. I put a link to the organization that hosts or benefits from the event. I recommend reaching out to someone this year if you would like to help.

Although 2016 was a very busy year, we still managed to squeeze in some fun times with friends: murder mystery party at the Larneng’s, private dinner prepared by Chef Jason (also at the Larnengs), CRC picnic, painting at Pinot’s Palette, Tom’s housewarming party, Holly and Meader’s wedding, Pokemon Party Bus, going to a bunch of Christmas parties, and NYE at Hideki’s which I have yet to even blog about. (I’ll be posting it next so check back.)

Nickira and I got to do a bunch of fun activities as well like watching Willy Wonka at the Orpheum, Fall Fest at City Arts, and Winter Mania at the Wichita Art Museum. We got to spend lots of time with grandma, which we will be able to do even more now that we’ve moved her to Victoria Falls.

This year was also a banner year for us in terms of attending music theatre performances. We only missed one MTW show and even got to see Wicked for the first time. I know it’s unrelated but we also got introduced to a new band that we just love: Jared & the Mill.

Last but not least, I finally made 40 Under 40 and have the commemorative plaques to prove it. LOL. Whew! What a year it has been!

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