For 24 years the annual Gourmet Guys to the Rescue event has been one of the biggest fundraisers for the Utica Rescue Mission. Now, a decision made between The Rescue Mission, the Oneida County Health Department and the Harts Hill Inn has put a damper on the plans for the 25th Silver Anniversary.

According to a letter to past participants from Executive Director, Jim Haid, the Celebrity Chef element of the event has been taken out of the equation. Typically, local celebrities and public officials would prepare their dishes at home and bring them to the Harts Hill Inn in Whitesboro for the public to enjoy. The health department now says that can no longer happen.

It was determined that all dishes must be prepared in an Oneida County Health Department certified kitchen. As a result of the decision, the celebrity element of the Gourmet Guys event has been eliminated, but The Rescue Mission still plans to hold the event.

The Oneida County Health Department responded with the following statement:

Oneida County Health Department has always permitted Harts Hill Inn as a restaurant. The Rescue Mission always held this event with Harts Hill Inn, and their permitted kitchen. The Rescue Mission changed their focus this year, and we began working with them to accommodate their program. We have not yet heard back from them as a follow up. They have chosen to go in a different direction.

We have offered to assist them going forward to make their program work and be in compliance with NYS regulations.

In the letter to past participants Haid writes, "The plan going forth is to recruit professional chefs to prepare samplings for our guests and celebrate our past celebrity chefs for their 24 years of faithfulness as a Gourmet Guy." In order to meet their budget of $25,000 the event will also consist of a "Chinese Auction" and Mark Bolos, a past celebrity chef, will provide music for the event with his band and plans to donate a guitar signed by all celebrity chefs for the auction.

The staff at The Utica Rescue Mission will look for creative ways to use their valued Celebrity Chef's for the event in 2018.

The Gourmet Guys to the Rescue event will be taking place this year on Sunday, October 29th, 2017 at Harts Hill Inn in Whitesboro.