The long-running Iron Chef Turlock competition will not be held this year, as the Turlock Rotary Club has decided not to host the annual Pitman High School vs. Turlock High School culinary challenge.
But the event will likely return in 2014, run by new hosts: the Turlock Education Foundation.
While the Rotary Club of Turlock hosted the event for the past three years, the fundraising aspect of the Iron Chef auction and dinner was not cost effective for the Rotary Club, according to club president Ron Hillberg.
“We’ve been very disappointed with the fundraising portion of the event,” said Hillberg. “It has nothing to do with the high schools, we just need something completely different.”
Each year, the Turlock Rotary Club set a $25,000 fundraising goal for the Iron Chef Turlock dinner and auction. Last year’s event brought in just under $10,000. The event failed to reach its fundraising goal in 2011 either.
“The meal portion was not very satisfactory,” said Hillberg. “We were charging $45 for a dinner that was horrible. The efforts of the individuals at the facility where the competition had been held was below our expectations.”
Hillberg also said that at last year’s event the catering company did not provide servers. High school students were forced to step in as servers for the night.
“It was just a disaster on the catering side,” said Hillberg. “It was embarrassing.”
With its less-than-satisfactory track record, the Rotary Club decided to abandon the Iron Chef competition to pursue an entirely new fundraiser.
“Instead of the Iron Chef dinner and auction this year, the Rotary Club will be hosting a garden party in June that is truly just focused on fundraising,” said Hillberg. “It will be much more focused on the generosity of the members of the club, and promoting the different activities that we do.”
Although the Rotary Club of Turlock will no longer host the Iron Chef Turlock dinner and auction, the event still has a future with the Turlock Education Foundation, which is hoping to take over the event. But the Turlock Educational Foundation will not host the event until 2014 at the earliest.
“By the time we found out about it, it was too late to get the teams together (for this year),” said Turlock Education Foundation President Barney Gordon. “We will be hosting it next year though.”
Hillberg said that he was happy to hear that the Turlock Education Foundation would be taking over the event.
“If continued at the high school level, the event would make more sense and would be more workable,” said Hillberg, in regards to the Turlock Education Foundation continuing the event. “It could be a great event, if the total focus is on the ‘Iron Chef’ portion of the event. It just didn’t work out financially for us as a fundraiser event, and it was time for us to try something different.”