21 years of dining with men

Dining with Men 21, featured

BY ALLEN A. BUCHANAN, Staff Writer

ST. PETERSBURG —Bethel A.M.E. Church celebrated its 21st annual Dine With Men Who Cook last Sun., April 17 at the Thomas “Jet” Jackson Recreation Center.

Rev. Kenneth Irby complimented the cooks as well as the community for making this yearly tradition a success.

“It has been a great joy and contribution to the community to bring folks together to fellowship and see that there are some men who can cook, burn, and throw down,” he said.

This yearly event offers a delightful and healthy competition between male cooks as they highlight their culinary abilities and contribute to community development. Part of the proceeds will help offset expenses for Bethel AME’s Breakfast Feeding Ministry.

For close to two decades the ministry has been feeding members of the community, including the homeless, with a free breakfast every Sunday morning. Donations of clothes, personal care items and holiday gifts are also given freely to needy families and individuals during certain weeks out of the year.

The NCAA sized basketball gym was transformed into a mega banquet hall, and surrounding the dining area were numbered chef tables. The cuisine ranged from soul food to Caribbean dishes with decadent desserts including of pies, cakes and cookies to boot.

Even WTSP-Channel 10’s lead anchor Reginald Roundtree got in on the fun. He showed off his cooking skills with shredded pork with black beans and yellow rice, a dish he ate frequently while growing up in Miami.

Close to 1,000 hungry residents got to see Roundtree in a totally different light, behind his chef’s apron as opposed to a jacket and tie.

A special table close to the entrance featured four pint-sized chefs: Aaron Lestor Jr., Jaquez, Kaleif and Morris McCray. These four young men teamed up to exhibit restaurant-level culinary skills.

“Me and my friends cooked fettuccini with shrimp, sausage, crabmeat and Alfredo sauce,” said Jaquez.

The future chefs also created a salad medley and a choice of deserts featuring brownies topped with orange-flavored icing.

Close to 60 chiefs participated in this year’s gastronomical delectation. Sam Pruitt came in third place, Bernard King placed second and this year’s top chef was James Lawson.

To reach Allen Buchanan, email abuchanan@theweeklychallenger.com

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