BY JEANIE BLUE, Staff Writer
It’s that time of year again! Bethel African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church presents its 19th Annual Dine With Men Who Cook event to be held Sun., April 27 from 2-4 p.m. at the Wildwood Recreation Center, 1111 28th St. S.
Stephen Scruggs, 2013 2nd Place Winner
This yearly event offers 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 the past 15 years 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.
This signature fundraiser also raises money for the church’s annual Calendar Tea event, which is a friendly competition of the member’s birth months. Each member has a birth month chairperson to coordinate their fundraising efforts in hopes of beating all the other 11 months.
Chefs prepare a variety of dishes including collard greens, fried chicken, yams, seafood, Cajun fare and pasta dishes just to name a few. There is a requirement of the amount of food each chef is asked to prepare said Larry Walker who, along with his wife Faith, is the chairperson for the event.
“My wife keeps track of the men who have already signed up and she has the information on which chef signed up to bring what dish for this year,” Walker said.
Chefs are asked to prepare enough food so that at least 100 people can sample a small portion. Not everyone participating wants their dish entered into the competition, so not only is joining in on the fun free, contributors will also receive two complimentary tickets, a Dine With Men apron and a chef’s hat.
“We had about 65 chefs to participate last year. A lot of them were returning cooks and most of them were happy with this year’s call to participate. They have so much fun and it’s an event that many of them have witnessed grow in attendance,” said Walker. “They enjoy seeing people enjoy eating their food and they stick their chests out for being recognized for having some outstanding dishes.”
Kids in Men Who Cook Competition
Since every dish is not a judged dish, there is no pressure to compete for prizes. The standard prizes are first, second and third place trophies for the top three dishes and honorable mentions for others participants.
For 17 out of the 19 competitions, Walker participated as a chef, but since he and his wife now chair the event, administrative duties keep him from showing off his talents.
“I always enjoyed seeing people come back for more of my food. The men also sample each other’s food and enjoy being around other men who cook; it’s a good time to fellowship with each other,” said Walker. “Men have a competitive nature about them and we like to brag about how good we can cook. You can have bragging rights.”
Men of all ages enter the competition. Last year, Ben Hughes, perhaps the oldest chef in his 80s, prepared field peas and corn bread, and won second place finisher. He plans on making a triumphed return this year. Their youngest chef to enter the competition so far this year is a precocious little six-year-old.
If you would like to parade your best dish or just want to support the effort, please call 727-481-2999.