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URBANA — The knives are coming out at the Urbana Sweetcorn Festival.

New this year, said Executive Director Paris Baldarotta, is Sliced & Diced: A Home-chef Cooking Competition.

Hosted by The Land Connection, the competition features local chefs using produce supplied by the group to create winning dishes.

They can bring their own sauces, oils, vinegar, starches and meat to spice up the healthy dishes, but the meal will be cold, not cooked, said Taidghin O’Brien, marketing manager for The Land Connection.

The onstage event runs from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Saturday at the downtown Urbana festival. Competitors need to arrive at least 15 minutes ahead of start time.

Winners move on to another test.

“This is sort of a precursor competition to our annual chef competition Sept. 21, the Artisan Cup and Fork fundraiser,” O’Brien said.

“We wanted to get some home chefs onstage for a fun way to engage the audience,” he added.

Each participant will be given an identical basket of local produce and prepare a dish that uses all of the ingredients in the basket.

No reheating or cooking is allowed, O’Brien emphasized.

Contestants must bring their own equipment, such as knives, cutting boards and utensils.

The Land Connection will provide tables for participants and dinnerware and utensils for serving the dishes.

They’ve got 24 minutes, O’Brien said.

At the end of the competition, a panel of three judges will choose the best dish.

The winning dish gets a basket of kitchen goodies and two tickets to the Artisan Cup & Fork.


Paul Wood is a reporter at The News-Gazette. His email is, and you can follow him on Twitter (@pvawood).