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Two chefs facing off with a spatula and whisk

Food fight at the Twin Cities Salvation Army

Added on Friday, March 1, 2013

Roseville, Minn. – The cooks from the three Twin Cities Salvation Army hot meal programs will square off in a competition Thursday March 7, 7 p.m. at Kitchen Window in Uptown to show off their culinary skills and hopefully win money and food for their programs.  Sullivan’s Supervalu and Jerry’s Foods are putting up 200 pounds of food for the winner and an anonymous donor is adding $5,000.

“This isn’t your grandma’s soup kitchen,” said Major Jeff Strickler, Twin Cities Salvation Army Commander. “We’ve got talented people cooking and caring for those less fortunate who come to us for perhaps their only hot meal for the day. Not only do we get to show off our dedicated chefs’ cooking prowess, we get to educate others about the kind of food we are serving at The Salvation Army.  Much of it because of donations from local businesses.”

Those donations range from bread, on an almost daily basis, to a recent donation of lobster, which chef Jeff Ansorge, head cook at The Salvation Army Payne Ave, St. Paul, turned into Paella.  Ansorge understands how to create great cuisine as he is a former chef at Capital Grille in Minneapolis.

The other competitors for top chef are Dennis Appleberry who heads up the kitchen at The Salvation Army Harbor Light in Minneapolis.  Appleberry got his cooking chops while feasting on soul food at his mother and grandmother’s restaurant in Ohio.  James Green rounds out the cookery contest as the man in charge at The Salvation Army West 7th, St. Paul. Green is a self-taught cooking whiz who pulls off amazing dishes with a twist.  Thursday he will prepare Karate Chicken and Smack-n-Cheese.

Thursday’s event begins when the three men shop (donated) for their ingredients at Sullivan’s Supervalu, 30 W Lake Street, Minneapolis at 4 p.m. and then on to Kitchen Window, 3001 Hennepin Ave S, Minneapolis, to begin preparations.

Four celebrity tasters will evaluate each dish for the audience of 50 donors who will taste and then vote for the winning dish with cash.  The distinguished palettes are: Pat Evans, anchor at KARE 11 News; Doug Huemoeller, president and owner of Kitchen Window; Stephanie Meyer, food blogger and local chef challenge judge (; Landon Schoenefeld, owner and chef at HauteDish Restaurant (

Read below for a brief biography of each competing chef.

Dennis Appleberry, 47, is a cook supervisor at The Salvation Army Harbor Light Shelter in Minneapolis, which serves three meals a day to about 1,400 people. Food is not only in Appleberry’s last name, it’s in his blood: He grew up in Dayton, Ohio gobbling up soul food at a restaurant owned by his mother and grandma. He left Ohio seven years ago to enroll in a Harbor Light rehabilitation program. He beat his alcohol addiction and has been cooking at Harbor Light ever since. “The most important thing to me is the people of The Salvation Army – they give me the strength to get up and be a servant to them and the Lord,” he said.

Jeff Ansorge, 39, is the head chef at the Payne Avenue Salvation Army in St. Paul, which serves a free hot lunch to about 100 people every weekday. Before landing at The Salvation Army last October, he spent eight years cooking at the critically acclaimed Capital Grille in Minneapolis. He’s a career chef with associate and bachelor’s degrees in culinary arts and food service management, respectively. After becoming a Christian two years ago, he felt compelled to work for a faith-based nonprofit. “I wanted to do something with my culinary skills to serve the Lord,” he said.

James Green, 33, is the head chef at the West 7th Salvation Army in St. Paul, which serves a free hot breakfast to as many as 300 people every weekday morning. The Chicago native took the job seven years ago and hasn’t looked back. “I love cooking and ministering to the homeless community, so this was a perfect fit for God’s calling in my life,” said Green, who is currently finishing up college. His favorite food to eat is Thai cuisine. His favorite foods to cook are – no surprise – pancakes and French toast, followed by ribs and fettuccine alfredo.

About The Salvation Army

The Twin Cities Salvation Army serves more than 288,000 people a year through its 25 local centers of operation. Daily it serves 2,500 hot meals and shelters 970 people. More than 33,000 local volunteers help The Salvation Army provide these and other services, from child daycare to senior housing. Learn more about Salvation Army volunteer opportunities or click on “Donate” in the main menu to make an online donation.