Kitchen athletes

If food were an Olympic sport, we’d have some serious contenders for the gold right here in Maine. Bangor’s next Ultimate Chef will be crowned later this month, after the final two rounds of the Chamber of Commerce-sponsored competition are held Sept. 15 and 22. The first dinner, set for 6:30 p.m. at Opus on Broad Street in Bangor, features last year’s champ Chef Roger Gelis, who in the first round wowed the judges with his take on his secret ingredient — goat cheese. The second dinner, also set for 6:30 p.m. at River Drivers Restaurant in Millinocket, will give challenger Ryan Campbell the chance to one-up his win in the first round, in which he used various forms of his secret ingredient, citrus. Tickets for both meals are $90, and can be purchased by calling 947-5205. Let the (delicious) games begin!

Dinner in slo-mo

The rapid growth of the locally produced food movement belies its popular name — slow food. The menu will be anything but slow at the second annual Producer’s Dinner, set for Wednesday, Sept. 10, at Havana in Bar Harbor. Made up entirely of ingredients grown, caught, harvested or gathered from within 100 miles of Mount Desert Island, the five-course dinner combines Havana’s unique take on Latin food with a few regional favorites. Seatings are at 6:30 and 7:30 p.m., and tickets are $69 plus alcohol and gratuity. To make a reservation, call 288-2822. Havana is located at 318 Main St., Bar Harbor.

Tray innovative

Economic and environmental concerns are on everyone’s minds, and as the school year begins, many colleges and high schools look for ways to cut down on waste. In one shining example of common sense, the University of Maine at Farmington stopped using trays in its cafeterias back in 2007 and has since reported a reduction in food waste of 65,000 pounds and the conservation of 288,288 gallons of water. According to a study by Aramark Higher Education Food Services, one of the nation’s leading suppliers of food for colleges and universities, students waste 25-30 percent less food when they aren’t carrying a tray. Since dining halls don’t have to wash them, they save hundreds of thousands of gallons of water a year. And studies have also routinely proved that plate size makes a huge difference in the amount of food people actually eat — so perhaps if more schools stopped using trays, they’d see the dreaded “Freshman 15” drop to a Freshman 10. Or maybe a Freshman –5.

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