- BC Games
Burnaby seeks best post-disaster chef
The ground's stopped shaking, you've managed to reunite safely with your family and regroup at home.
You're tired and hungry after surviving an earthquake, or other such disaster. The next question is likely, what's for dinner?
It's just that sort of practical thinking that the City of Burnaby wants to encourage through its Disaster Chef competition which is accepting entries until Sept. 9.
Burnaby residents are asked to enter recipes for a day's worth of meals for one adult using only non-perishable food items from their emergency kit and no more than two litres of water.
The grand prize is a chef experience dinner for four at EBO Restaurant and a one-night stay at the Delta Burnaby Hotel with runner-up and honourable mention prizes of chef's table dining experiences and gift certificates respectively at Riverway Clubhouse.
The contest is a way to inspire people to start thinking about the nitty-gritty details of of how they'll cope in the 72 hours after a disaster, the period emergency kits are meant to supply a family with what it needs.
"We're finding a lot of people are thinking about being prepared but are not actively getting prepared," said Charmaigne Pflugrath, Burnaby's emergency program coordinator.
She noted that recent flooding in Alberta, the train derailment tragedy in Quebec and the wildfires threatening homes in the Okanagan are all reminders of the need to be ready in case of a disaster.
The cooking competition came about through sharing ideas in the local emergency planning community, said Pflugrath, who organized it following a suggestion from a colleague in Richmond.
Figuring out meals is all part of an overall planning exercise people should undergo, which includes understanding the risk, making plans to contact and reunite with family in a safe place, and putting an emergency kit together.
Along with non-perishable food items and other supplies, it's recommended the kit include two litres of water for each family member per day. Burnaby encourages people to increase that to four litres per person a day to provide for food preparation and sanitation.
Water purchased pre-sealed in bottles or jugs should be replaced every two years or by the best-before date it's stamped with, she said. But water people bottle themselves should be replaced every six months and only stored in clean jugs that have only ever held water, to prevent bacterial growth from old milk jugs for instance.
She suggests that for people living in condos or townhouses that the kit be stored in a wheeled backpack in an easily accessible place such as a front hall closet. People living in houses could repurpose their old garbage cans or buy new ones, the kind with wheels and lids, allowing the kit to be stored outside in the backyard.
As for the cooking competition, while freeze-dried or ready-to-eat meals are fine for the emergency kits, they're not permitted as ingredients in the recipe contest.
Pflugrath said her own family's kit includes non-perishable foods that match what's in her pantry. That allows her to use them in her regular cooking when she needs to refresh what's in her kit. It also allows for post-disaster meals that her family is familiar and comfortable with.
"Remember that you will be in a highly anxious state … The likelihood of encouraging a four-year-old to eat something that's unfamiliar, it's already difficult on a daily basis, so why give yourself that extra anxiety?"
Contestants will be expected to include recipe directions using camp stoves and other equipment available to them after a disaster. The five finalists will also be using that equipment at the Disaster Chef cookoff outside Burnaby city hall, with no electricity provided, on Oct. 17, which is also the date of the Great British Columbia ShakeOut, the annual provincewide earthquake drill.
A judging panel will choose the finalists and the winner of the live cookoff will be chosen by EBO executive chef Dan Craig and Riverway Clubhouse executive chef Hugh Izumi.
Pflugrath said it's all about thinking through the emergency planning process and being prepared with everything that's needed to survive, from pots, pans, dishes and cutlery to fuel for the campstove.
It's common for people to include canned goods in their emergency kits but forget the can opener, she noted.
"They also put in the cans and the food and all that great stuff and forget the toilet paper."
• Entries must consist of three original recipes, one each for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Each must feed one adult, and use only non-perishable food ingredients typically found at a supermarket and no more than a total of two litres of water for all three recipes.
See the official contest rules at http://bit.ly/174zCJ5