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Competitive field carved out for Surgeons vs. Chefs

Competitive field carved out for Surgeons vs. Chefs

Sure, Dr. Gary Sherman brought in the most money and won the People’s Choice Award for his creation at last year’s Surgeons vs. Chefs Pumpkin Face-off to benefit Discovery Station. Sure, he was crowned, granted a trophy and officially designated “Pumpking.”

But during a phone interview, fellow Surgeons vs. Chefs competitor Alan Redding said he can’t remember what Sherman carved.

“It was not impressive,” Redding said playfully.

This year, contestants will battle it out yet again in the 6th annual Surgeons vs. Chefs Pumpkin Face-off on Monday, Oct. 14, at 7 p.m. at The Barn at Springfield Farm in Williamsport. Contestants will carve one-of-a-kind jack-o-lanterns to be auctioned off. The pumpkin that receives the most votes from event attendees will be named the 2019 People’s Choice winner. The pumpkin that receives the highest auction bid will be named the grand prize winner and its creator named the 2019 “Pumpqueen” or “Pumpking.”

In addition to Redding of Desert Rose Cafe and Catering and Sherman of The Centers for Advanced Orthopaedics at Robinwood, competing this year will be Zach Greenlee of Zach Greenlee’s Trackside Steak & Seafood; Dr. Aaron George of Meritus Health; Jeremy Jones of 104 B Street Restaurant & Lounge; Kateri Fikar of Volvo Group Trucks Operations; Dr. Kristen Schupp of River City Dental; and Dr. Salvatore DiMercurio of Cosmetic Plastic Surgery Center.

Redding, who has competed at three past events and was the 2017 Pumpking, has been sizing up the competition.

“I would like to mention that Dr. Sherman, my arch-nemesis and Facebook friend, has beat me too many years. I’m hoping to win something this year,” he said.

Redding’s past creations have included a pumpkin carved to look like an old woman wrapped in bandages following plastic surgery, and another equipped with a fountain apparatus with red-dyed water to look like blood running down its face.

“I made one heck of a mess with that one,” he said.

It was a roughly 4-foot scarecrow creation that earned him the 2017 Pumpking title.

This year, Redding said, contestants are permitted to have an assistant.

“I am bringing a baker with me. She bakes at Desert Rose Sweet Shop. It’s going to be like a (Food Network) ‘Halloween Wars’ episode where there are a bunch of different elements, not just one,” he said.

Redding has an idea in mind for his carving this year, but “it could all change.”

“I fly by the seat of my pants so it could change at any second,” he said.

As a chef contestant, he likes to keep the competition lively by “throwing shade” at the doctors.

“Last year,” he said, “I dressed up as a dead patient with a sign that said, ‘Can you guess which doctor killed me?’”

Redding said he appreciates that proceeds from the event support Discovery Station in its mission to spark children’s curiosity for discovery, exploration and investigation.

“I am one not known for my skills with children,” he said. “However, I’m going to get really old one day and someone is going to have to be there to take care of me. I need some smart kids out there. I think the work of Discovery Station helps ensure the future for me and everybody else that’s aging.”

It will be DiMercurio’s first year participating in the event, but not his first stint with a knife.

“You know, I am a surgeon,” he said. “I am pretty good with a knife. I think this will be more fun than surgery.”

He has heard that other competitors go “gung-ho” practicing their carving skills in hopes of creating the perfect pumpkin, but he has not done so.

“I just want to have fun. Obviously I’ll try to make something appropriate for the situation. I’ll do something appropriate for the season using my surgical skills,” he said.

While he has a design in mind, it will not be unveiled until the event. He disclosed only that “People will look at my pumpkin and say, ‘Oh! That one was done by the surgeon.’”

DiMercurio said it is a great idea to raise funds for a community organization with a little friendly competition amongst professionals.

“You have chefs and you have surgeons, doctors, people who take a lot of pride in what they do. I think it brings a lot of people together for a good cause. It will be a little competitive and very entertaining,” he said. “People are far more likely to support Discovery Station if I say, ‘Come and see what I’m going to carve’ than if I just say, ‘Come and make a donation.’ It’s a smart event.”

Top photo: Dr. Gary Sherman, right, will defend his “Pumpking” title at Surgeons vs. Chefs Pumpkin Face-off 2019 to benefit Discovery Station. (Submitted photo)

If you go ...

WHAT: Surgeons vs. Chefs
WHEN: Monday, Oct. 14, from 7 to 9 p.m.
WHERE: The Barn at Springfield Farm, 2 Springfield Lane, Williamsport
COST: Tickets $15 for adults including one free drink; $15 for children ages 9 to 17 including one free soft drink or water; free for children 8 and younger.
CONTACT: Visit Surgeons vs. Chefs on Facebook or go to

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