By WARREN DILLAWAY - firstname.lastname@example.org
ASHTABULA — Wives were relegated to the status of helpers Saturday night as area men took center stage during Men Who Cook night at Mount Carmel Community Center.
For one night men took to the kitchen and cooked up a variety of delicacies from cod to chocolate chip cookies.
The money benefits Catholic Charities of Ashtabula County’s assistance program for those down on their luck. The money goes to help people pay for rent, utilities and food, said Lynn Zalewski CCAC executive director.
“The need is great we continue to see people seeking this kind of assistance,” she said.
More than 300 people attended the event that included 23 chef stations, some partnered up at one station, cooking their favorite dish.
“They (those in attendance) get to sample all 23 dishes,” Zalewski said.
A tip jar is prominently displayed at each station and the people with the most money in their jar win the people’s choice award. “Then there is a panel of six judges. They sample all 23 dishes,” Zalewski said.
The dishes range from soup to desert.
“This is our seventh year,” Zalewski said. She said the chefs tend to come back year after year.
“We have 20 repeat chefs and three new ones,” Zalewski said.
“They decorate their stations, some are dressed up. They take great pride in the presentation and serving,” she said.
Dusty Dyches of Austinburg Township said he wasn’t sure if he would make it to all 23 stations. “Maybe (but) I don’t know if I have enough room” he said with a laugh.
Bill Howe and Dr. Jeff Brodsky enjoyed some good-natured bantering while dishing up their food. “This is our third year. I like meeting all the people and preparing the dish. It (the proceeds) goes to a good cause,” Howe said.
Ryan Loncur, a member of the 2011 Kirtland Comets state championship football team, made his way to Ashtabula to make his championship pizzelles.
“I had family out here who asked me to come,” Loncur said. He said he has been making the pizzelles since he was 8.
Dr. Jerry Privitera dressed as a Pilgrim to balance his friend John Decker in Indian garb as they created a Thanksgiving dish.
“We ordered these (the costumes) online and we made a couple of dry runs (on the turkey dish),” Privitera said.
“It’s an all-day endeavor. A couple of beers and a couple of subs,” he said of what it took to make it through the cooking day.
Don Rapose, principal of Lakeside High School, created mini-pulled pork sandwiches with interim Ashtabula Area City Schools Superintendent Pat Colucci.
“It’s my homemade barbecue sauce. I make it all the time. My kids love it. I don’t even measure. I just pour it and taste,” he said. He said Portuguese seasonings are a critical component to the sauce.