‘Chopped at Church’ Feb. 4 fundraiser in Rancho Santa Fe showcases culinary talent to benefit food pantries

Talented cooks from across San Diego are taking on a formidable challenge next month – creating mouth-watering meals from the simple ingredients offered at food pantries that serve low-income residents. Teams from six Presbyterian churches will be armed with just a two-burner hotplate and cooking utensils in an effort to transform basic food staples at the first-ever Chopped at Church competition on Saturday, Feb. 4, at the Village Church in Rancho Santa Fe. The fundraising event aims to raise awareness for the work of Presbyterian Urban Ministries (PUM), an outreach mission of the Presbytery of San Diego. PUM assists the marginalized who live on few resources with little room for cooking meals.

“We took a cue from the popular cooking series Chopped where the cooks don’t know what’s in their bag of food items until they open it, just like the poor who receive donated goods at food pantries,” explained the Rev. Dr. Jan Farley, associate pastor of the Village Church. “Free food is crucial for those without resources to eat daily and churches are vital to meeting that need.”

Teams of four will have a limited number of items to work with and prizes will be awarded for best main course, best dessert and best team spirit. Judges include the Rev. Michael Mudgett of the San Diego Presbytery and Pascale Vignau who served as executive chef for the Four Seasons Hotels, Hilton Cape Rey, Pacifica Del Mar and Savory Casual Fare.

Participating churches include: Village Community Presbyterian Church, Rancho Santa Fe; First Presbyterian Church, Oceanside; Lakeside Community Presbyterian Church, Lakeside; Palisades Presbyterian Church, San Diego; Point Loma Community Presbyterian Church, Point Loma; and La Jolla Presbyterian Church, La Jolla.

The event starts at 5 p.m. and features a buffet dinner, raffle prizes and entertainment for a cost of $45/person with children 12 and under free. Tickets can be purchased at the door or online: For more information contact Jeanie Spies at 619-232-2753 or email The Village Church Fellowship Center is located at 6225 Paseo Delicias, Rancho Santa Fe, CA, 92067.