About Morsel Combat - Morsel Combat | Food Event Fighting Hunger | Iowa

About Morsel Combat

A food event fighting hunger - feeding people in Iowa and around the globe                                        

Morsel Combat is a unique culinary event showcasing premier chefs and restaurants from central Iowa’s thriving food scene. Each chef team will create and present a small-plate menu item for guests to enjoy. Local celebrity judges will determine their favorite dish to decide who is named Morsel Combat’s Top Chef.

The event provides funding to battle hunger in Iowa and around the world, designating all proceeds to Meals from the Heartland, a West Des Moines-based non-profit organization that packages and distributes meals to feed the starving and hungry.

Participating chefs will prepare a small-plate menu item to compete for Morsel Combat's Top Chef prize - an all-expenses paid trip to participate at Cochon555's Heritage Fire event at Charles Krug Winery in St. Helena or Grand Cochon in Chicago.

This year’s chefs include:

  • Diego Critelli, Trellis Café & Catering and Port of Des Moines
  • Matt Drennan, Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar
  • Bruce Dunseith, Louie’s Wine Dive
  • Alex Gabrielson, Strada 8 and Baru 66
  • Tag Grandgeorge, Le Jardin
  • Aaron Holt, RoCA
  • Peter Makens, The Fletcher
  • Armando Trejo and Jonny Cheek, +39 Italian Restaurant
  • Jay Wang, Wasabi

Awarding Morsel Combat’s 2017 Top Chef Prize include the following honorary judges:

  • Chef Robert Anderson, executive chef and program chair, Iowa Culinary Institute
  • Brian Taylor Carlson, food and dining reporter, Des Moines Register
  • Jessica Dunker, president and CEO, Iowa Restaurant Association
  • Kris Maggard, publisher, dsm Magazine
  • Nick Lucs, food blogger, Des Moines Foodster

The event’s design and décor will be provided by Stuart Alexander Productions. KCCI’s Cynthia Fodor will serve as the evening’s emcee, while guests enjoy an evening of live music from Eddie Arndorfer and opportunities to win raffle prizes, including: a $3,200 one-half carat princess-cut diamond pendant with 32 small diamonds from Bruce Owen Jewelry & Design; Dinner for ten at Django restaurant; gift certificate from K Renee; 10-class yoga package from Shakti Yoga; massage and facial package from The Spa at West Glen; and more.

Two local bakery chefs—Echo Boland with Echo’s Cookie Shop and Janine Knop of Miss NiNi’s Desserterie—will sweeten the evening with specialty dessert samples. Johnson Brothers of Iowa will provide wine, beer and cider sampling, including:

  • Wine: Selections from Constellation Wines: Meiomi Rose, Cali Pinot Grigio, Kung Fu Girl Riesling, Franciscan Chard, Ravage Cabernet Sauvignon and Prisoner Red Blend
  • Beer: Toppling Goliath, Decorah Iowa - Pseudo Sue IPA and Dorothy’s Larger
  • Cider: Wilson Orchard Cider, Solon Iowa - Cherry Crush and Goldfinch


The West Des Moines Leadership Academy class of 2012 ambitiously started a community event by inviting Central Iowa chefs to compete in a friendly competition to fight hunger both locally and globally.   
Nearly 20 tossed their Chef’s hat into the ring – and Morsel Combat was born.
The Leadership class was also motivated to address another food related issue, that is food insecurity. A growing issue in Iowa and around the globe, the mission to raise awareness and assets to feed the hungry and starving became the flip-side of Morsel Combat’s dinner plate. The Morsel Combat event provides funding to battle hunger in Iowa and around the world, designating all proceeds to Meals from the Heartland.


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