By Mike Schuh

BALTIMORE (WJZ) — The explosion of television shows about food, chefs and competitions has caused a whole new industry to spring up.

As WJZ’s Mike Schuh reports, some of the best chefs vie for prizes and prestige in a Baltimore-specific competition.

This morning, they gave me a really big fork for some tasty food.

Chef Melissa Fordham has lost count of the meals she’s prepared

But what’s going into her pan at the Inn at Colonnade has her complete attention.

“You get like a rush. You get really really nervous,” Fordham said. ” No matter how many times I do it, I still get butterflies in my stomach.”

She’s competing against 16, well now 8, other chefs at the Mason Dixon’s Chef’s Challenge for rpizes and maybe more importantly, the black winner’s chef’s jacket.

“It looks like an NCAA bracket doesn’t it? 8 weeks, 16 chefs and it culminates on Aug. 16.

A hot competition dreamed up by Sysco Food salesman Eric Folkart.

“The chefs get exposure. The restaurants get exposure. The beautiful venue gets exposure,” said Folkart. ” The tournament each year, we try to build the brand so the tournament gets exposure. And that’s why we built the tournament, for it to get everyone exposure and do something that’s super trendy and people love to come out and watch.”

Under the beautiful dome in the lobby at the Inn at the Colonnade, the conference was an easy sell as it gets over 100 new potential customers in the door.

“That’s the beautiful part about this competition, they come for the competition and then I see them for dinner one week later,” Folkart said. “So having this competition and having people from the outside coming to see us, that’s great. ”

Meals on Wheels is also a winner. They get 10 percent of the ticket sales.

There are both spectators and VIP tickets available for tonight’s cook-off at the Colonnade.

 

 

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