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Local chefs compete in cook-off for a cause

24nochefs - Area chefs Brian Santos, David Titus, and Michael Pantano competed in Catholic Charities' Hunger Chopped event. (Handout)

Chefs Brian Santos, David Titus, and Michael Pantano competed in Catholic Charities' “Hunger Chopped.”

An audience watched as three chefs stood at their stations, waiting for the competition to begin. When the secret ingredient — rutabaga — was announced, a clock was set for 30 minutes. They grabbed their pans and fired up their burners.

Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Boston’s cooking competition, Hunger Chopped, raised $48,000 that will go toward building a new food pantry in Lynn. The event, held at the DoubleTree hotel in Danvers, featured the cook-off inspired by “Chopped,” the Food Network show.

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“It’s an event people can have fun at, but still bring attention to an important cause,” said William Southall, a Catholic Charities advancement officer who organized the event.

Catholic Charities aims to open the food pantry by early 2018, according to Southall. He said up to 400 people came to the mobile food pantry during the summer when Catholic Charities brought it to Lynn.

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“It really shows the need for having this pantry,” Southall said.

David Titus, clubhouse general manager of the Corinthian Yacht Club in Marblehead, Brian Santos, executive chef for the Questrom School of Business at Boston University and competitor on Season 13 of “Hell’s Kitchen,” and Michael Pantano, regional head chef of The Cheesecake Factory, competed in the event. They could only use items commonly found in Catholic Charities food pantries, such as chicken, bacon, potatoes, and carrots.

Titus won the title with a potato scallion bacon cake, topped with a sautéed chicken breast. He sliced the rutabaga and fried it in olive oil to make chips as a side dish.

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“I thought it’d be nice to maybe come in third,” he said. “It was really fun to do, but it made it better that it was for such a good cause.”

Those interested in volunteering at Catholic Charities food pantries, located in Boston, Brockton, Dorchester, Lowell, and Somerville, can contact Southall at 781-380-4778.

Laura Elyse King can be reached at laura.king@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @lauraelyseking.
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