Alnwick/Haldimand fire Chief Dave Dawson crowned king of the kitchen at Disaster Dining Challenge

No bad dining experiences here — only good eats prepared by community emergency management co-ordinators (CEMCs) as they faced off in a "Disaster Dining Challenge" in recognition of Emergency Preparedness Week.

Hosted at the Baltimore Recreation Centre May 11, the CEMC participants — including fire chiefs and staff from five fire departments in Northumberland — were tasked with creating culinary masterpieces with no electricity, using only non-perishable food typically found in a household emergency preparedness kit, explained officials.

Each participant was provided with the same assortment of groceries to work with and had about an hour-and-a-half to prepare three dishes for their meal, including an appetizer, an entree, and a dessert.

At the end of the competition, Township of Alnwick/Haldimand fire Chief Dave Dawson emerged victorious. Dawson captured first place with his pinwheel beef jerky wrap appetizer, an entree featuring pasta with spaghetti sauce and chicken, and finished it off with a pastry with chocolate sauce for dessert, it was announced after the competition.

All dishes were taste-tested by three emergency preparedness experts and scored by taste, smell, presentation, and creativity. The judging panel included:

  • Ken Stubbings: Former (retired) CEMC for Northumberland County.
  • Colleen McCabe: CEMC for Northumberland County.
  • Eric Everett: Director, exercises, education and training, Emergency Management Ontario

Based on the judges’ scores, the results of the friendly competition were:

  • First place: Dawson, with Alnwick/Haldimand.
  • Second place: Township of Hamilton fire Chief Mike Robinson.
  • Third place: Municipality of Trent Hills fire Chief Shawn Jamieson.
  • Fourth place: Municipality of Brighton fire Chief Gene Thompson and deputy fire Chief Shawn Hutchinson.
  • Fifth place: Town of Cobourg fire Chief Ellard Beaven and assistant Heather Monsma.

Terra Boddy, Northumberland County’s emergency planning co-ordinator, noted the Dining Disaster Challenge was a fun way to recognize Emergency Preparedness Week, raising awareness of the importance of having a fully-equipped emergency preparedness kit readily available in case of an emergency, and to be creative with how citizens can use the items in the kit.

“Emergency Preparedness Week is an opportunity for all Northumberland County residents to take action and ensure they are prepared to protect themselves and their loved ones during an emergency,” said Boddy, in a recent release.

She thanked all those who competed in the event and offered congratulations to Dawson for winning the 2023 Disaster Dining Challenge crown.

Every household should have a kit readily available with enough supplies to be self-sufficient for at least the first 72 hours of an emergency, including non-perishable food items; and this was the message area leaders were trying to drive home in a unique new way with this challenge.

To learn more about how to assemble an emergency preparedness kit and for other preparedness tips, visit


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