Last week I was storming around the house looking for something, but could not quite remember where to look.  I opened this door and that door, gazing between here and there, but no luck.  I then asked my wife and of course, she knew.  “It’s upstairs, in the board game closet,” she said with confidence. The search for my jacket was an abrupt reminder that summer is officially ending.

The weather is changing, the temperature in the metro is falling, but there are some indoor fundraisers, centered on my favorite friend, food.

Comfort Food Classic

The fifth annual Comfort Food Classic, a chef competition to benefit Ted E. Bear Hollow, will pit eight chefs against each other to make their rendition of a gourmet lasagna. You will get to taste and vote for your favorite and bid on silent and live auction items.

Ted E. Bear Hollow is a center for grieving children, teens and their families. Hundreds of youths are served every year through support groups, day camps and other services. Children from approximately ages 3 to 19 years are eligible.  Services are free. Donors and fundraisers such as the Comfort Food Classic cover the costs of Ted E. Bear Hollow.

First time participating chefs are Clayton Chapman, The Grey Plume; Matt Hallberg of V.Mertz; Bobby Mekiney of Vivace and M’s Pub; Chef Aldo Cruz & Chef Kendra Shaft of the Old Mattress Factory; and Patricia Barron “Big Mama” of Big Mama’s Kitchen & Catering. Paul Urban, the inaugural Comfort Food Classic winner from 2007, will team with fellow New York Chicken & Gyros chef and 2009 Comfort Food Classic winner, Jessica Joyce, to form the first and only team consisting of past champions. Te event will be at the Ramada Plaza Omaha Hotel & Convention Center, formerly CoCo Key Convention Center, off 72nd and Grover. Sunday, Oct. 2, from 5 – 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $75, visit for more information.

Bands, Booze, and BBQ

Food and Spirits Magazine presents the second installment of Bands, Booze and BBQ on October 3 at The Waiting Room. The food competition and barbecue throw down benefits the local chapter of the American Culinary Federation and scholarship program. For $15 attendees can taste some of the best barbecue in town while listening to live music from Matt Cox at 7:30 p.m. and The Willards at 8:30 p.m.

Restaurants will enter in three new categories: ribs, specialty meats and hot sides. The beauty of the thing is you don’t have to spend all day walking around tents or buying multiple food tickets. The atmosphere is energetic and the barbecue is unique. As an attendee and judge, I encourage you to experience this great event.

The Food and Spirits judging panel will also grade participants in six categories. Attendees can vote the People’s Choice award in this battle-of-the-bands-style competition. Bands, Booze and BBQ. Monday, October 3. Doors open at 6 p.m.

Signature Chefs Auction

The Signature Chefs Auction is a casual evening of incredible food prepared by Omaha’s finest chefs and served at stations surrounding the ballroom.   A silent auction offers gifts. The program ends with a live auction featuring private dinners, parties, trips and special events with your favorite chefs.

Now in its fifth year, Omaha’s Signature Chefs event has raised $625,000 for the organization’s Prematurity Campaign to give every baby a healthy start. Money goes to research, community services, education and advocacy efforts. It is among the top 10 March of Dimes Signature Chefs Auctions in the country.  

The lineup of restaurants is impressive with food and drinks from 29 businesses in the Metro. They include 7M Grille, Liberty Tavern and The Grey Plume.

Having participated as a chef a few years back, I thoroughly enjoyed the event. This year’s Signature Chefs Auction is Thursday, October 13 at the Hilton Downtown from 5:30 – 9:30 p.m. Tickets are $150. Call 402.496.7111 for more information.

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