TAKING THE MUDDY CHEF CHALLENGE
10 AUGUST 2016
Since 2008, Land Rover enthusiasts in the North East have been having fun cooking and camping in the annual Land Rover Muddy Chef Challenge.. This year’s challenge at Lime Rock Park, CT was a culinary overload, says Bill Gonyea, General Manager at Prestige Land Rover, the event’s title sponsor.
What is The Muddy Chef Challenge?
This is passionate, die-hard Land Rover enthusiasts getting together in the picturesque grounds of Lime Rock Park in Lakeville, Connecticut for three days of cooking, camping and a lot of fun. It’s been going on since 2008 and this year there were around 110 Land Rover vehicles with owners, families and friends attended, over 350 attendees in total. They hold lots of off-road adventures, seminars, fancy-dress parties, vendor displays and plenty of sampling of adult beverages around the campfire. It really is a fun event. The organizers like to describe it as Top Gear meets Top Chef.
Why the big focus on cooking?
The guy who founded it, Eric Yohe, is a passionate Land Rover enthusiast and an equally passionate foodie. I think it started out as a few friends taking their Land Rover vehicles camping and having fun cooking out. It has grown from there. Now, over the Muddy Chef Challenge weekend, there are two major cooking competitions with teams having to prepare gourmet meals using only locally-sourced ingredients, and only using cooking equipment they can carry in their Land Rover vehicles. It was amazing how elaborate some of the kitchens were, with huge tents and grills.
Who takes part in the event?
Passionate Land Rover enthusiasts, first and foremost. These are mostly Heritage enthusiasts who brought along their Defender, their 110s and 90s, their Series II, their LR3 and Discovery vehicles. It also draws in owners with newer LR4 and Range Rover vehicles. They come along with their families and friends, set-up their tents and focus on having a great time.
Prestige Land Rover was the title sponsor. Why does the dealership get involved?
This was our first year as title sponsor. The main attraction for us is the opportunity it gives us to increase exposure for our new models. We trucked-in twelve new Land Rover vehicles – Discovery Sport, LR4, Range Rover Evoque and Range Rover Sport. We also provided a few LR4 vehicles for the organizers to use as shuttle vehicles to move people around. We had test drive opportunities during the weekend and on the Thursday before the challenge, we held an off-roading event for customers at the nearby Orvis Sandanona clay-shooting grounds in Millbrook, New York.
You were also a judge in the cooking contest. How was the experience?
Both myself and Chris Turner, who is President of the Prestige Group and owner of a restored Land Rover Defender 110, were judges for the Saturday night contest. You have to remember that over 90 teams take part, that’s a lot of food to taste. Then there’s the added dimension that they pair most of the meals with a different beverage from some of the event sponsors, like Hillrock Estate bourbon or Thomas Tew rum. It was a long night.
Will you be back next year?
Most definitely. We’ve already had meetings with the organizers talking about ways the event might grow and how they might widen the appeal. I really do think it has the potential to be a much larger event in the future.