One of the things I love about blogging is discovery organizations and local businesses. Enter the Baltimore Community Toolbank. I have to admit, I become acquainted with them when I went to the Made In Baltimore Launch Party this past July. I remember Dave asking me if I ever heard of the Baltimore Community Toolbank. He pointed out the chairs we were sitting on belonged to them. Since we were only seeing each other at that time, I wanted to play it cool and impress so I told him I’ve heard of them before hahaha.
Later that evening, I secretly googled what they were all about while I was hanging out with Dave haha. In case you want to impress your significant other just like me, the Baltimore Community Toolbank is a non-profit organization that assists and aids the community with the tools and equipment the community needs for whatever project they’re trying to do. The Baltimore Community Toolbank has been up and running for five years now, and I was so happy and honored that I was able to attend and celebrate their 5th anniversary fundraiser!
The Baltimore Community Toolbank’s fundraiser took place the 1st weekend of October. This year, the organization decided to add a twist to their anniversary fundraiser: they invited six executive chefs from all different types of restaurants and catering business from Baltimore City to compete against each other in a cook-off! So, what does the winner get? The winner gets an honorary Baltimore Community Toolbank shovel trophy and a shit ton of bragging rights, but hey, when you can say you’re the shit, at least you can back it up, right? Oh yeah, other than this being an awesome competition, you know what else was awesome? I was one of the three judges! The other two were John and Scott. John is a host on the Rouxde Cooking School Podcast (instagram here), a Baltimore based podcast, and Scott is the owner and one of the teachers at the Baltimore Chef Shop (instagram here) located in Hampden.
So, what were the rules of the competition? Each competitor had to choose and use a tool from the Baltimore Community Toolbank to make their dish! I’ll go down and list each competitor and what they made! You’ll be able to see on their picture their tool of choice.
They had these delicious pork steam buns. The bread was soft, and the meat was not dry. The chef also included pickles that added a nice crunch against soft textures of the steam bun.
Next up, Culinary Architecture (instagram here)! They are a market, and they cater food! The chef made baked potatoes, but she added a toppings bar so you can make the loaded stuffed potato of your dreams. I kept topping of my baked potato with bacon jam… and we all I know how I love to jam with bacon (like my play on words?).
Another restaurant competing in the throwdown was Brewer’s Art (instagram here). They made these bone marrow pates. The smokiness from the bone marrow combining with the sweetness from the figs were nomz. Textures were fantastic too. The rye cracker had a great crunch against the creaminess of the bone marrow pate. I thought it was a great balance.
Lastly, Au Jus Solutions (instagram here) had these amazingggg tacos. Very bright flavors from the salsa and the lime. The cilantro made the tacos taste so fresh along with the rockfish. I am totally guilty of this, but I went back five times… maybe more.
After an hour and 45 minutes of taste testing, all the judges came back together and decided who was the winner for the judges choice. Drum roll please! …. The winner was Au Jus Solutions!
Chef Beej made one of the best rockfish tacos I’ve ever had. And they were presented in a very clean way too! I would like to note that Au Jus Solutions also won the peoples choice. Looks like everyone that night was on the same page. Let’s see those tacos one more time!
Other than the awesome chef throwdown, there were silent auctions and live auctions going on. They had some really good stuff. I was eyeing the Black Label bottle initially, but I decided to not go for it haha.
Random cute fact, ever year, one of the board members gets her daughter to make Irish Soda Bread for one of the auctions. I got a taste of the Irish Soda Bread and man… it was so good!!! I can understand why people bid over $40.00 for this deliciousness.
The event was also held outside and inside. Although it was hot inside, seeing all the tools on display gave off a really cool ‘this is the Baltimore Community Toolbank’ vibe.
And although the live band was playing inside, you could hear them when you were outside. I caught myself jamming and dancing from time to time.
Other vendors that were at the event:
La Cakerie (instagram here) served up dessert with these cute little cupcakes at the end of the night. The whiskey cakes, following the picture of the cupcakes, were donated by Rack House Bakers (instagram here).
So, how was being a judge at at this event? Uhm. Freakin awesome. Not only was I helping out an amazing non-profit organization by judging (you mean eating all the food? haha), but I was happy to celebrate the success of the Baltimore Community Toolbank and its impact on the Baltimore community. I could tell that all the board members I met put their heart and energy into the anniversary fundraiser. It ran smoothly, and if there were bumps, I didn’t notice them at all.
The Baltimore Community Toolbank hosts an anniversary celebration every year (no duh), so if you thought this event looked fantastic, consider going next year! Or if you just want to volunteer with them, check out their website!