Calling all chefs

Assumption B.V.M. Church will host first Men Who Cook charity benefit and cooking competition

By Samantha Bambino

The Times

Turning up the heat: Members of the Men Who Cook charity benefit committee took a moment to pose during a planning session for the black tie-optional cooking competition. Pictured are (back row, from left) Nancy Lynch, Ed Shannon, Father John Kelly, William F. Wiegman Jr., (seated, from left) Maria Leszczyszyn, Rich Spencer, Colleen Schwartz, Rosemarie and Bill McCafferty. Source: Stu Coren

It’s not every day we get to break out the crisply-ironed tuxedos and glittering ball gowns. But Feasterville’s Assumption B.V.M. is giving locals that chance. Father John Kelly, Assumption B.V.M. priest, and Ed Shannon, Lower Southampton Township supervisor, recently announced the church will host its first black tie-optional charity benefit, Men Who Cook, on April 28.

As its name suggests, the event will first and foremost be a competition among local men who enjoy creating a hearty meal or tasty dessert. Competitors must be amateur chefs who pursue cooking as a hobby, not as a profession.

For those looking to participate, entries are now being accepted. According to Kelly, a number of applications have already been received from amateur chefs of various fields, including a funeral director and construction manager, with one planning to make frozen chocolate mousse sorbet. The first 25 chefs to register will be entered into the live food competition, so Kelly encourages those interested to reach out sooner rather than later.

Chefs will be required to prepare 100 to 150 bite-size versions of one item, which are divided into six individual categories for judging — appetizers, soups, salads, entrees, side dishes and desserts.

So who will be critiquing all of these delectable dishes? Since it’s an all-male competition, it only made sense to call on some of the fiercest females in the local food industry. On the judges’ panel will be Maureen Fitzgerald, former food editor at the Philadelphia Inquirer and founder of My Daughter’s Kitchen, a program that teaches cooking to kids; Cindy Ruhling from the Buck Hotel; Michelle Mulholland from the Yardley Inn; Becky Gurzo from Lamberti’s; and Joanna Gouak from Erwin’s Country Kitchen.

The winner of each category will receive a trophy to commemorate his accomplishment.

A variety of freshly-prepared dishes isn’t the only thing Men Who Cook attendees can look forward to. In addition to an open bar, there will be music and dancing as well as silent and live auctions, the latter of which will be hosted by auctioneer Tom Wahely of Stephenson’s Auction in Southampton.

To date, a number of prized items and once-in-a-lifetime experiences are slated to be auctioned off at the event. These include an emerald and diamond pendent donated by a generous parishioner; accomodations at the Philadelphia Airport Marriott; tickets to a Notre Dame basketball game; dinner with James R. Fitzgerald, the FBI agent who helped solve the infamous Unabomber investigation; and tickets to see LIVE with Kelly & Ryan in New York.

“We’ve planned a wonderful, fun-filled evening for everyone in our area to come and enjoy,” Kelly said.

Proceeds from Men Who Cook will be put toward renovations of the church’s auditorium, which hasn’t had a revamp in more than 30 years. The project, which includes an upgraded sound system, will provide the dedicated parishioners of Assumption B.V.M. with a modern hub for gatherings and future events.

Tickets are now available for purchase at the rectory, as well as several sponsorship opportunities for local businesses interested in securing a space in an ad book. The event’s committee is also looking for additional items to be auctioned.

Overall, Kelly promises an enjoyable, classy evening. According to him, it’s the perfect excuse to dust off those suits, fancy dresses and “special occasion” jewelry.

“It’s much different than a beef and beer,” he said. ••

If you go…

Men Who Cook will take place on Saturday, April 28, beginning at 6:30 p.m. at Assumption B.V.M. Church, 1900 Meadowbrook Road in Feasterville. Tickets are $50 per person. The public is invited to attend and the event is black tie-optional. Chefs who wish to compete should contact Father Kelly for a registration form at 215–357–1221, ext. 29 or email him at ABVMMenWhoCook@comcast.net.

Samantha Bambino can be reached at sbambino@newspapermediagroup.com