Buehler’s chefs cook off for a cause

Kick off your NFL football weekend by attending Buehler’s Fresh Foods Battle of Ohio Chili Cook-off.

Huddle up and join in the fun from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 10, 2016, at the Buehler’s Jackson store, located in Canton, as six of your favorite chefs at Buehler’s go head-to-head for their chance at winning the first locally sourced chili challenge.

For a donation of only $5, participants will have the chance to vote for their favorite chili. Beer sampling of local beers will also be on site for 50 cents each. Complimentary water and soft drinks will be available. All of the food proceeds will be donated to support the Akron-Canton Foodbank, who provides food and essential items to 500 food pantries, hot meal sites, shelters and other hunger-relief programs in eight Northeast Ohio counties.

The chefs will be bringing the heat dressed in their favorite NFL jerseys. Buehler’s invite all participants to show up and support their favorite NFL teams, so we can all celebrate as the Browns play against the Bengals on Sunday, Dec. 11.

The tailgate party will feature chili made with fresh ingredients from our Grow Local selection. The Fresh Harvest Market features more than 200 fresh products from local producers within a 50-mile radius of all local Buehler’s stores.

The chef roster includes:

Executive Chef – Mike Merritt [Mike Merritt] – Office (Kansas City Burnt End Chili) (New York Giants)

Growing up in a kitchen at the young age of 11, Mike started understanding how a kitchen and a family business work. Mike was a kitchen manager at a Philadelphia hotel at the age of 16. Once deciding this was his passion, Mike attended and graduated from Johnson & Wales University. Mike earned best in class honors, as well as Presidents Culinary Club.  Professionally, Mike ran a 34 unit high-end grocery store chain, Genuardi’s, that operated in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware. Mike was the youngest executive chef (merchandiser) that Genuardi’s ever had. After Genuardi’s was acquired by Safeway, Mike spent a lot of his time traveling around the country teaching young chefs new programs in the culinary world.

Mike is currently the executive chef and director of Foodservice for Buehler’s Fresh Foods, where he operates 11 in-store Foodservice departments, nine full-service restaurants, full-service catering and a central kitchen facility where everything is made from scratch. He resides in Wooster with his amazing wife, Shanon, and three children: Mikie, Tyson and Cali.

Adam Smith
Medina River Styx (Cleveland Browns)

Born raised and still lives in Akron, Adam is a 1995 graduate of Ellet High School. He continued his schooling and graduated from the Pennsylvania Institute of Culinary Arts in 1997. His professional career includes being the executive sous chef at Pucci’s in the Valley from 2000 to 2003; opening executive chef at Bricco from 2003 to 2005; executive chef at Bistro on Main and Mangiamo from 2005 to 2008; being a chef consultant from 2008 to 2012; being a chef DBA from 2011 to 2013; being a sous chef at Press Wine Bar from 2013 to 2014; and currently serving as the head chef at Buehler’s since 2014.

Chef Luann Keith Nacho mommas chili – Wadsworth (Tennessee Titans)

Luann has worked at Buehler’s Fresh Foods for 27 years. She has worked at several different locations through the years, and currently works where she started, at the Wadsworth location.

Luann has always enjoyed cooking. Helping her grandmother and making chicken and dumplings is one of her fondest memories.

Luann has been married for 32 years and has two boys. This makes her an expert at cooking “I don’t know,” “I don’t care” and her favorite, “whatever you want.”

Her favorite dishes to make are anything that she can put on the grill. Even during the winter, you can find her grilling.

Luann said they always go out for Mexican cuisine. She said she has worked her way through the whole menu at their favorite spot, always trying everything. How would you know that you liked chocolate if you didn’t try it.

Chef Aaron Gnap – Spicy Carne Asada – Wooster Milltown (Indianapolis Colts)

Aaron started his culinary career at the Portage Lakes Career Center. While in high school, he worked for the Portage Country Club. He then moved to Charleston, S.C., and attended Johnson and Wales University. After graduating with honors, he moved to Orlando, fla., with his soon-to-be wife, where they both worked as chefs at Walt Disney World in the Magic Kingdom and the Disney Resorts. He then moved to Indiana and was a chef at Ball State University, where he cooked for the sports teams and in the dorms.

Aaron has been with Buehler’s Fresh Foods for three years and is the head chef at their Milltown location.

Chef Dane Main – Southwest White Chicken – Jackson (Dallas Cowboys)

Dane graduated from Johnson and Wales University from the Charleston, S.C., campus in 2000. He then continued to Advance Baking and Patisserie Arts from the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, N.Y. He has owned and operated his own bakery in Northwest Arkansas, has a fine dining chef background in both classical French and French Mediterranean Bistro style restaurants and was voted one of the Top 10 Fine Dining Chefs in Northwest Arkansas. He competed in “Chopped in the Ozarks” in Fayetteville, Ark., and loves to create things using food affinities (contrasting flavors and textures) to set himself apart from others.

Steve Dunfee – Pulled Pork Chili – Office (Carolina Panthers)

Steve graduated from Pennsylvania Institute of Culinary Arts in Pittsburgh, Pa., in 2002. He then went on to work at a fine dining restaurant, Austin’s Wood Fire Grill Steakhouse, in Brecksville, continuing to work alongside other chefs from his school to produce fresh, made in-house American cuisine. After moving back to his hometown of Dennison, he went to work at Chef Ernie’s Restaurant and Lounge, a local establishment that has now been in business for more than 40 years. Working alongside Chef Ernest Porco from Italy, who cooked for presidents such as, Richard Nixon and John F. Kennedy, he learned authentic Italian cuisine.

He started working for Buehler’s Fresh Foods in 2007 and moved to the Wooster area in 2008. He continues to work with Buehler’s executive chef creating new foods appealing to the younger generations of shoppers, and working on policies and procedures to make the foodservice area of Buehler’s Fresh Foods operate more efficiently.


Spike – Bengals Steak Chili – Office (Bengals)

Spike will be bringing the heat to the competition with his chili titled, “Bengals Steak Chili.” Spike, Buehler’s current mascot, was born and raised at Buehler’s in Wooster, Ohio. He graduated from the University of Hawaii with a major in mascot community relations. Spike is the life of the party, and can be seen dancing at local community events, such as the Healthy Kids Day event. He loves kids, produce and sunbathing in his spare time. Spike has a sweet disposition. He plans to celebrate his big win by throwing down the football with a celebratory “spike.”

Buehler’s invites everyone to come out and celebrate, and support a great cause. Give your taste buds the game-winning touchdown.

©2016 Baker Creative

Battle of Ohio Chili Cookoff, NFL Browns vs. Bengals game

Lets get ready to rumble on Saturday, December 10 at Buehler’s Canton location from 11 am to 2 pm.

Come out to vote for the best chili! Your $5 donation includes chili, soft drinks and water. Local beer samples are 50¢ each.

100% of all food proceeds are donated to support the Akron-Canton Foodbank.

Fun Facts about the Akron-Canton Foodbank:


  • It was founded in 1982.
  • In 2014, 26 million pounds of food was distributed.
  • Their mission is: Feed people. Fight hunger.
  • Awards they have won include: Feeding America’s Food Bank of the Year, Four Star Rated Charity by Charity Navigator, Accredited Charity of the Better Business Bureau of Akron, Northcoast 99 Northeast Ohio’s best places to work.

Source: Akron-Canton Foodbank