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A boost for kids: Chefs, food trucks, breweries compete to benefit children’s home

Steel Bender Brewyard co-owner Shelby Chant, left, and some participating chefs take a break during a Duke It Out planning meeting. Proceeds from the event benefit El Ranchito de los Niños. (Courtesy of El Ranchito de Los Niños)

Duke It Out is best known for its chef challenge, but this year organizers are adding food trucks to an area showcasing four local breweries.

“We are doing a food truck challenge as well this year,” said Abby Eden, special events coordinator. “It’s going to be in the same area as the craft beer competition. In our refreshment tent there are going to be four breweries that are sampling beer, and you get to vote for the People’s Choice awards, and in that tent we’re also going to have food trucks that will bring their signature sample bites as well.”

Participating breweries are Albuquerque’s Canteen Brewhouse, Bombs Away Beer Co. and Steel Bender Brewyard and Santa Fe’s Second Street Brewery.

“Each brewery will have at least one beer they’re going to be sampling,” Eden said. “… It’s kind of the breweries’ choice how many beers they bring, so you get to try different beers from the breweries and then you get to vote for which is your favorite.”

Competing food trucks Royal Empire Catering and Nomad’s BBQ will not be the only ones cooking up some savory edibles. Nine local chefs will be creating either an entree or a dessert in 30 minutes to impress a panel of judges. Each of the chefs will provide food samples for guests to try. Attendees will then vote for their favorite entree from six of the chefs and desserts from three participating chefs.

“The second half of the competition is the live cooking competition where the chefs get a basket of ingredients and from the basket of ingredients they have to create a plate for the panel of judges and then the judges score that food and award a chef in each category the top entree or top dessert award,” Eden said.

Competing chefs are 2018 Best Entrée winner Israel Rivera from The Shop Breakfast and Lunch, 2018 Best Dessert and People’s Choice winner Michael Fram from Standard Diner, Raul Maestas of Ohana Hut, Brent Moore of Pueblo Harvest, David Ruiz of Paako Ridge Golf Club, Myles Lucero of Prairie Star Restaurant & Wine Bar, Ernesto Duran of Corn Maiden, Noe Gomez-Medina of Santa Ana Café and Tracy Lind-Johnson of Slate Street Cafe.

Attendees have an option to purchase a VIP or Premium ticket. VIP ticketholders early entry as well as an upgraded gift bag that includes a bottle of wine and a raffle ticket for a chance to win appliances, hotel stays, restaurant gift cards and more. Raffle tickets can be purchased for $10 each or 15 for $100.

Proceeds from the event benefits El Ranchito de los Niños, which does not receive state or federal funding and heavily relies on events such as Duke It Out to raise money. The organization has been in operation for 19 years. Builders Source, which is hosting the event, will be donating 5% of its sales that day to El Ranchito de los Niños

“We help kids who for some reason or another can’t be with their families,” Eden said. “We are meant to be a long-term or permanent placement, so we are not an 18 and out program. They can stay with us as long as they need to until they finish school. We focus on keeping brothers and sisters together. Our main goal is to help siblings grow to adulthood in a loving, stable environment with one another.”

The home can accommodate 16 children at a time.

“We don’t have a school on site,” Eden said. “They go to a regular school. We try to send our kids to private school just so they have a smaller class size. There’s a little bit more belonging and family connection in smaller private schools, so we try to provide that. And education is one of our top priorities. It’s the one thing that can build a foundation for these kids, and it’s the one thing no one can take away from them. Most of the kids that come to us typically come to us behind in school, so we want to get them at grade level or above, so we focus a lot of our time on that.”

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