Olympic rower Dave Calder

Olympic rower Dave Calder

Running hard for their dinner

Olympians, chefs team up for obstacle course fundraiser to support farming

One week before the Chef Survival Challenge at Madrona Farm, Nathalie Chambers delights in touring the 10-hectare property, now yielding a full fall bounty on the lower slopes of Mount Douglas.

She pulls a fresh carrot, still covered in soil, from a bin at her feet and passes it to a new farm visitor. She waits expectantly for the results of the taste test.

“I like to watch,” says the organic farmer who runs the Madrona operation along with her husband, David. “It brings people right back.”

Chambers is in the business of bringing people of all stripes back to basics when it comes to local food production and sustainability.

For the last four years Chambers has focused on a local challenge, which sees top chefs run, hurdle, crawl and kayak through an obstacle course en route to creating a masterpiece meal, but that’s all about to change in the fifth iteration of the Chef Survival Challenge.

Chambers has this year brought on board 10 Olympians and a television crew as she attempts to parlay the event into a reality TV show and a national fundraising event in every province in the country.

The obstacle course is meant to symbolize the obstacles to farming on Vancouver Island and involving chefs was a natural fit given their stakeholder status in the food movement, she says.

“Rather than dealing with high real estate prices, no mentors, pesticides, the chefs had to deal with doing the obstacles: the hurdles, the climbing wall, the boat race to condiment island,” says Chambers, who in 2008 launched a successful campaign to purchase the farm and hand it over to The Land Conservancy of B.C.

“When the farm got protected, I was super excited … I was thinking about the infinite potential of what we could do together as a community,” Chambers says.

Despite being one of the 12 TLC employees recently laid off, Chambers is keeping her spirits high and continuing to organize the event with the aim of creating a charity fund devoted to supporting farmers across Canada.

All proceeds from ticket sales to watch the madness and partake in a prepared community feast, as well as the cash raised from the auctioning off of chef creations, will go to the Big Dream Farm Fund, a resource Chambers hopes to make available for organizations dedicated to farmland acquisition and farming education.

Last year the event netted $10,000, with corporate sponsorship having covered the cost of hosting the challenge, as it will again this year.

“This fundraiser is going to grow legs and become a travelling roadshow,” says Chambers, now executive director of the Chef Survival Challenge Society. “We have the goal of entering this event in every province in Canada and once it happens in that province, it becomes a yearly event.”

Local television station Shaw TV is filming the afternoon, which includes music by Lester Quitzau and the physical prowess of the Olympians invited to aid the chefs in gathering ingredients.

Craig Sorochan, a master’s candidate in communications at Royal Roads University, was pulled into the fray in the lead-up to the Chef Survival Challenge when he came to Madrona Farm while making a documentary on local farming.

After “getting sucked into the culture,” Sorochan says, he began selling tickets and conducting volunteer PR for Chambers.

“Ninety-nine per cent of people talk about buying locally, but only one per cent do,” says Sorochan outside Madrona’s roadside farm stand, where he has been interviewing customers already sold on the merits of eating local.

“It’s going to fall on communities and the people within those communities to support the farmers.”

Entry to the Chef Survival Challenge is $40 for adults or $100 for families of four.

Tickets are available in advance at chefsurvivalchallenge.com, or at the Madroma farm stand, open 11 a.m. until 2 p.m. Wednesday through Friday

Gates to Madrona Farm, 4317 Blenkinsop Rd., will open at 11:30 a.m. and the event runs from noon until 5 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 30.

 

nnorth@saanichnews.com

 

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Saanich council approves of a five-story multi-family development at 300 Gorge Road West and 2900 Tillicum Road. (Rendering via Alan Lowe Architect Inc.)
Saanich approves five-story, mixed-use development for Tillicum area

Plans include 53 residential units, three commercial units at Tillicum Road, Gorge Road West

The fine for changing lanes or merging over a solid line costs drivers $109 and two penalty points in B.C. (Screenshot via Google Street View)
B.C. drivers caught crossing, merging over solid white lines face hefty fine

Ticket for $109, two penalty points issued under Motor Vehicle Act for crossing solid lines

Coun. Niall Paltiel of Central Saanich has filed a notice of motion directing staff to work with the WSANEC leadership council to develop a program leading toward the “gradual incorporation of traditional WSANEC names for key collector and arterial roads”(Black Press Media File)
Central Saanich councillor wants road signs to use WSANEC names

Coun. Niall Paltiel proposes ‘gradual incorporation of traditional WSANEC names’ for key roads

Royal Roads University president Philip Steenkamp said they are aware of hateful graffiti spray-painted in an area of the forest surrounding the campus. The graffiti in question includes anti-Semitic content and a racial slur towards Black people. (Facebook/Royal Roads University)
Anti-Semitic, hateful graffiti spotted in forest near Royal Roads University

Royal Roads working with West Shore RCMP to remove graffiti “as soon as possible”

A cougar was spotted at Royal Roads University on Sunday, Jan. 24. The sighting was reported on the western edge of the campus. (File photo)
Cougar spotted at Royal Roads University Sunday afternoon

Animal reported on western side of campus near Colwood Fire Department

U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders sits in on a COVID-19 briefing with Dr. Bonnie Henry, provincial health officer, and Adrian Dix, B.C. minister of health. (Birinder Narang/Twitter)
PHOTOS: Bernie Sanders visits B.C. landmarks through the magic of photo editing

Residents jump on viral trend of photoshopping U.S. senator into images

A woman injects herself with crack cocaine at a supervised consumption site Friday, Jan. 22, 2021 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Drug users at greater risk of dying as services scale back in second wave of COVID-19

It pins the blame largely on a lack of supports, a corrupted drug supply

Wet’suwet’en supporters and Coastal GasLink opponents continue to protest outside the B.C. Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Thursday, February 27, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
‘We’re still in it’: Wet’suwet’en push forward on rights recognition

The 670-km Coastal GasLink pipeline was approved by B.C. and 20 elected First Nations councils on its path

The sky above Mt. Benson in Nanaimo is illuminated by flares as search and rescuers help an injured hiker down the mountain to a waiting ambulance. (Photo courtesy Nanaimo Search and Rescue)
Search plane lights up Nanaimo mountain with flares during icy rope rescue

Rescuers got injured hiker down Mt. Benson to a waiting ambulance Saturday night

Jennifer Cochrane, a Public Health Nurse with Prairie Mountain Health in Virden, administers the COVID-19 vaccine to Robert Farquhar with Westman Regional Laboratory, during the first day of immunizations at the Brandon COVID-19 vaccination supersite in Brandon, Man., on Monday, January 18, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Tim Smith - POOL
Top doctor urges Canadians to keep up with COVID measures, even as vaccines roll out

More than 776,606 vaccines have been administered so far

From the left: Midway RCMP Csts. Jonathan Stermscheg and Chris Hansen, Public Servant Leanne Mclaren and Cpl. Phil Peters. Pictured in the front are Mclaren’s dog, Lincoln and Peters’ dog, Angel. Photo courtesy of BC RCMP
B.C. Mounties commended for bringing firewood to elderly woman

Cpl. Phil Peters said he and detachment members acted after the woman’s husband went to hospital

Dr. Jerome Leis and Dr. Lynfa Stroud are pictured at Sunnybrook Hospital in Toronto on Thursday, January 21, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
‘It wasn’t called COVID at the time:’ One year since Canada’s first COVID-19 case

The 56-year-old man was admitted to Toronto’s Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre

An Uber driver’s vehicle is seen after the company launched service, in Vancouver, Friday, Jan. 24, 2020. Several taxi companies have lost a court bid to run Uber and Lyft off the road in British Columbia. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Taxi companies lose court bid to quash Uber, Lyft approvals in British Columbia

Uber said in a statement that the ruling of the justice is clear and speaks for itself

Nanaimo Regional General Hospital. (News Bulletin file photo)
COVID-19 outbreak declared at Nanaimo hospital

Two staff members and one patient have tested positive, all on the same floor

Most Read