Champions for Charity

Local First Responders Compete for Charity

The "Champions for Charity" challenge features teams of local first responder heroes (including active or retired firefighters, police officers, EMS professionals, and military) competing in a three-round cooking challenge to win a $3,000 donation to the charity of their choice.

This year's competition kicks off at 11:00 am on Friday, July 26 on the Challenge Butter Cook-Off Stage and will be hosted by MasterChef Season 9 Winner Gerron Hurt. The winner will be announced at 1:30 pm.


  • Mike Benson | The Claddagh Pub and Restaurant, Gilroy
  • Adam Sanchez | The Milias Restaurant, Gilroy
  • Mark Segovia | Segovia Catering, Gilroy
  • Chef Eddie G. | Food Network's The Great Food Truck Race


  1. This competition will include up to four teams of two active or retired Law Enforcement, Fire Department, EMS professionals, and military personnel.
  2. Each team will create dishes in three elimination rounds: Appetizer (20 minutes); Entree (30 minutes); and Dessert (20 minutes).
  3. Garlic must be used in all courses of this competition.
  4. Each round will be judged on taste, appearance, creativity, and use of garlic by a panel of three judges and the Emcee.
  5. One team will be eliminated after each round until the final winners are determined based on their dishes from all three rounds.
  6. The winners will be announced the end of the competition and presented a check for $3,000 to their charity.
  7. Each team must select a designated 501(c)3 Non-Profit Charitable Organization prior to the competition.
  8. During the competition, the Emcee will be speaking with the teams, learning about their dishes/methods/techniques, their agencies, and their charities of choice.
  9. Ingredients will be provided to the teams at the beginning of each round, as well as the garlic that is to be featured and highlighted in each course. The festival will provide fresh whole garlic, jarred minced garlic, jarred pickled garlic and jarred chopped garlic (no other types of garlic will be permitted).
  10. A pantry will be available with a variety of spices, condiments and staples. No outside food items will be allowed in this competition.
  11. Two gas-powered cooking ranges will be provided for each team, complete with two four-burner cooktops & two ovens. Open flame, charcoal-type BBQs are not permitted.
  12. Teams are required to bring any specialty cooking equipment, plating, and serving items. Each team must be prepared to serve three (3) total courses to a panel of four (4) Judges, one (1) VIP plate, one (1) Emcee plate, and one (1) plate which will be used for display after each round which is a total of seven (7) dishes per course.

2018 Winners Morgan Sanders and John Campbell with host Shaun O'Neale