Detroit chefs showcase bar skills at 'Cheftail' cocktail competition

Melody Baetens
The Detroit News
Lady of the House in Corktown.

Notable chefs from around town will put down the knives and step behind the bar for the first-ever "Cheftail" cocktail competition Monday at Lady of the House. 

Nine chefs will submit a craft cocktail, and the first-, second- and third-place winners will get money to donate to the charity of their choice. Attendees select a people's choice winner based on which is purchased the most throughout the night. 

Hosting chef Kate Williams says she wanted to create an event to get chefs out of the kitchen and hanging out with each other for a good cause.

"Just a fun night, flipping to the other side of the restaurant and getting to support and highlight causes that are near and dear to each of us," she said. "Chefs get a lot of 'celebrity' but these organizations and the folks behind them are doing the really incredible work in our communities."

Dave Arnold and Nastassia Lopez of Booker and Dax Lab in New York City and Dave Kwiatkowski of Detroit's Sugar House and Bad Luck Bar will pick the winners. More familiar with drinking craft cocktails rather than creating them, the judging panel is rounded out by me, The Detroit News restaurant critic. 

Arnold is also the owner of Existing Conditions and Williams said he was her teacher at the French Culinary Institute in NYC for her Sous Vide technique class. 

"He, his show, and his book, 'Liquid Intelligence,' have gained a huge food and beverage industry following over the last few years and we thought it would be really incredible to introduce him to our great cocktail scene here in Detroit as well," said chef Williams. 

The whole party is hosted by effervescent, bow-tied cocktail blogger Nick Britsky. 

Good Cakes and Bakes chef April Anderson is one of 15 chefs chosen to participate in the James Beard Foundation's Chefs Boot Camp for Policy and Change.

Participating local chefs include April Anderson of Good Cakes and Bakes, who is hoping to win money to donate to the Corktown Health Center. Brad Greenhill from Takoi and the forthcoming Magnet is playing for the James & Grace Lee Boggs School, Gold Cash Gold's Brendon Edwards' charity is St. Vincent and Sarah Fisher Center and Lumen's Gabby Milton has chosen HAVEN. 

Dog-lover James Rigato of Mabel Gray will play for Detroit Dog Rescue. Jennifer Jackson and Justin Tootla of Voyager's charities are Alliance for the Great Lakes and the Bear Hug Foundation, respectively. Bacco, Bigalora and Pernoi chef Luciano DelSignore has chosen the CDS Foundation, and host chef Williams is hoping to win for Alternatives for Girls. 

For those attending, the $35 ticket that partially funds the charity prizes for the winners is available in advance through Once inside, the drinks can be bought from the bar and there will also be food from Big Boy's on hand for purchase. 

The party is Monday, June 24, 6-10 p.m. at Lady of the House, 1426 Bagley in Detroit.

Twitter: @melodybaetens

Takoi and Magnet executive chef Brad Greenhill.