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Restaurant Notes: Local cooks to compete in League for Blind & Disabled fundraiser

Christine Ha, who is blind and who won the third season of the TV show "MasterChef," will speak.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014 - 12:01 am

The League for the Blind & Disabled is planning a food-related fundraiser for Sept. 7 that sounds like fun.

"Cooking Blind with Fox MasterChef Christine Ha" is the title of the event. Ha, who won the third season of the TV show "MasterChef," is blind. She will tell her story at the event.

The fundraiser, which supports the League's Youth Services Program, includes a cook-off with four local finalists who won a preliminary contest in July at Ivy Tech Community College. Those four home cooks are Kent Castleman of New Haven; Nancy Ake, who is blind, of Fort Wayne; Michael Walters of Hoagland; and Dawn Kelley of Fort Wayne.

In the July preliminary contest they were required to use apples as the main ingredient in their dish; at the finals they again will be required to use apples in their dish. They'll be competing on stage for a $1,000 prize.

Additionally, professional chefs from regional restaurants will compete in a separate contest onstage, but they will be cooking blindfolded.

Ha and three others will be judges.

The cost is $45, or $25 for students with IDs. The event begins at noon Sept. 7 at the Rhinehart Music Center, Auer Hall at IPFW, 2101 Coliseum Blvd. E. Food trucks will be parked outside for those who work up an appetite watching the others cook. Food and food-related vendors will be set up in the lobby.

For ticket information, call 481-6555 or go to

Food truck app

Now there's a free app called "Dash n' Dine" that helps foodies track down the location of local food trucks. The Apple and Android versions of the app were built with input from Fort Wayne Food Trucks Inc. Links to the respective app stores can be found at

Use the “Dash n' Dine” app, to pinpoint each truck's location, read daily specials, find out what's on the menu, and see what time each truck will be open. Location and menu information is updated by food truck operators.

The app includes information from all current members of Food Trucks, Inc. – Affiné, Bravas, Jimmy Ray's, Sol Kitchen, Getaway Grill, Pizza Bomba, Ragin' Cajun, Rigatony's, Spicer's, Wise Guys and Whip & Chill.

Big (Brand Innovation Group) introduced “Dash n' Dine” at the Foodstock event on July 26, and the app was downloaded nearly 700 times during its first weekend.

Bakery outlet

An Aunt Millie's Bakery Outlet opened Monday where the Hostess outlet store used to be at 1912 Bluffton Road. The store will sell bread, buns and English muffins among other products. The phone number is 209-6134. Hours: 9 a.m.-6:30 p.m. Monday-Friday; 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturdays; and 10 a.m.-3:30 p.m. Sundays.

Changes to Red Lobster

Red Lobster is no longer affiliated with Darden Restaurants, having been sold to Golden Gate Capital. In a letter to Fresh Catch Club members, the CEO says the change "brings Red Lobster back to where we started in 1968 — as an independent, entrepreneurial, private company that's solely focused on serving you great seafood."

However, the CEO promised not too much would change. For more information, go to And yes, they still will honor Darden gift cards.

Olive Garden manager honored

Speaking of Darden Restaurants, which still owns Olive Garden, Catherine Soellinger, general manager of the Olive Garden in Fort Wayne, has attained Darden Restaurants' Diamond Club status for showing strong and inspiring leadership while also achieving top financial performance in the company's previous fiscal year.

Fast food updates

*The Burger King at 324 E. Jefferson Blvd. has been closed for a major remodeling.

*The McDonald's in Auburn is closed and is being rebuilt.

Something happening at your eatery? Call Cindy Larson at 461-8284, fax 461-8817, email or write Restaurant Notes, C/O The News-Sentinel, PO Box 102, Fort Wayne, IN 46801. This column is the personal opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views or opinion of The News-Sentinel. To read other columns, go to