Men show they have what it takes in the kitchen
By Jaime Angio Correspondent March 23, 2013 10:14PM
Bryan Gallup, of Wilco Fools of Will County, works on his smoked meatloaf in the Men Who Cook competition at the Pipefitters Training Center in Mokena. | Jaime Angio~For Sun-Times Media
Updated: April 25, 2013 7:33AM
Foods from around the world in the form of appetizers, entrees, desserts and side dishes were on hand for the hundreds of people who turned out Saturday for the fifth annual Men Who Cook culinary competition at the Pipefitters Training Center in Mokena.
The fundraiser sponsored by the Will County Children’s Advocacy Center and State’s Attorney James Glasgow benefits the center, a nonprofit agency that helps children who are victims of sexual and physical abuse.
Sue Bloch, executive director of the center, said this is its major fundraiser of the year.
“It’s been highly successful all these years, so we just keep doing it, people love it,” said Bloch. “The men who are cooking really get excited. There is a lot of trash talking between each other about my dish is better than yours and that type of thing, so we like that excitement.”
Trash talking, indeed. Nearly 50 amateur chefs did their thing.
They cooked. They sweated. They sized up their competition.
First year amateur cook Bryan Gallup of Wilco Fools of Will County served up 16 pounds of his smoked meatloaf, which is about 350 pieces.
“It’s a different meatloaf with my own special things inside,” Gallup said. “Instead of baking it in the oven traditionally, we put in a smoker, because everyone knows everything turns out better when you put in a smoker, so when it comes out you get this deliciousness, as I like to call it.”
Five-year amateur cook Michael Stiff of the Spesia & Ayers law firm in Joliet definitely was feeling the pressure with his 25 pounds of smoked buckaroo beef brisket.
“We won last year in the dessert category, not only for presentation but also for apple pie,” Stiff said. “We always try to go to the wall with presentation.”
All was for the cause regardless of winning or not.
“The children’s advocacy center is something that we can all get behind,” Stiff said.
Cathy Rodeghero of Joliet came out to Men Who Cook for the second year in a row.
“This is a great fundraiser, and it’s lots of fun,” Rodeghero said.
“All this food we get to try and that you wouldn’t be able to try by yourself, so it’s a great opportunity. It’s a wonderful cause — anything to help — and I love seeing all the support,” she said.
Patrick O’Brien of New Lenox said that normally he cooks, but this year came out for the support.
“I came out to support the child advocacy center. It’s a good cause to help the children that are abused,” O’Brien said.
“I’ve had the pulled pork, I did the lasagna, which is probably my favorite,” he said.
Dan Pohtre of Homewood is an architect and amateur chef. He whipped up his corned beef with pickled jalapeno slaw to show his support.
“My sister-in law Jackie works for the county with the kids that are not treated so great, so I love to come out and do what I can to help and support and do what we can for kids,” Pohtre said.
Is it a guy thing?
“It’s a total guy thing,” he said. “We are all competitive enough that we are all smiling but hoping to win.”
Jay Healy of the Goldstine, Skrodzki, Russian, Nemec and Hoff law firm in Burr Ridge came out with 10 trays of carmel-banana pudding.
“We’re supporting Will county and hope everybody has a good time, it’s for the kids,” Healy said.
“It’s really tough but we’re trying to generate as many votes as we can,” he said. “Our biggest competition might be right next door to us, which is some banana thing as well and it’s fried. So usually fried anything is pretty good.”
Attendees were given chips to place in containers on the tables for voting. Glasgow handed out first- through third-place medals to the winners in their respective categories.
The No. 1 entree was Jack Tacos made by Duffy Blackburn. The top dessert was Healy’s carmel-banana pudding.