Chef Takashi Ito of Inn at Laurel Point took home the Hungry Hearts Top Chef trophy.

The business and philanthropic community came together last weekend for Hungry Hearts, a unique fundraiser aimed at raising both awareness and funds for Our Place to serve the most vulnerable citizens of Greater Victoria.

Six top local chefs used their culinary expertise and imagination in a fierce competition to see who could create the most popular savory bite.

We are overwhelmed by the generosity of the community,” said Don Evans, executive director of Our Place, “This strong support will enable us to continue with many of our life-transforming programs and services to assist people in crisis.

Guests were invited to “vote with their heart” in crowning their favourite dish. In a finger-licking finish, Chef Takashi Ito of Inn at Laurel Point took home the Hungry Hearts Top Chef trophy by creating a gourmet Aura Sushi of torched Albacore tuna, side stride shrimp, soy onion salad and togarashi mayo.

Once people learn of all the wonderful ways Our Place helps the impoverished in our community, they really step up to help,” said Lori Angelini, Senior Development Officer. “That couldn’t have been made more clear when the philanthropic and business community truly came together in a fun and unique way to help make our signature fundraiser a great success.

The event, presented by PwC Canada and hosted at the Inn at Laurel Point, raised $117,135.

This generosity couldn’t have come at a better time as Our Place continues to experience a significant increase in demand for services.

The other competing top chefs were: Nicholas Waters of Toque catering, Morgan Wilson of The Fairmont Empress, Jason Clifford of Table 21, Brad Holmes of Olo, and Dan Cunningham of Truffles Group.

Renowned local philanthropist Eric Charman conducted the live auction of amazing prize packages. His light-hearted humour charmed the bidders and inspired a generosity among the crowd. The silent auction was also busy with competitive bidding on fabulous items.

Our Place is a unique inner-city community centre serving Greater Victoria’s most vulnerable: working poor, impoverished elderly, mentally and physically challenged, addicted and the homeless.

Individuals and businesses provide the majority of financial support for its programs and services. Our Place provides over 1,500 meals per day, hot showers, education, job skills, free clothing, counseling and outreach services, plus 45 transitional housing units.