foodie b’eat: Men Can Cook…and We Love It!

Foodies, let me let you know about an organization that is near and dear to my heart. SECU Family Home. A couple of weeks ago, I had the pleasure of attending the SECU Family Home’s Men Who Can Cook Fundraiser. Actually, I’ve been working with them over the past 9 months in preparation for this signature event, coordinating judges, assisting in the judging criteria, naming categories, etc. It was a great event and I really had a lot of fun being a part of it.

This was published recently in my Chow article in YES! Weekly.

Keep an eye out for 2017 and you can be a part of the 2nd annual event. It is a great time. And…you’ll want to come hungry!

The signature Men Who Cook benefitting SECU Family House was held Saturday, March 5 and more than 250 “friends of the house” were in attendance at the Historic Brookstown Inn to lend support to local amateur chefs. Amateur chefs? Only in the kitchen, but not really by the looks and taste of the delicious dishes prepared by these local movers and shakers in the Triad. Competing were local dignitaries, organizational leaders, and CEO’s competing as celebrity chefs who wanted to wow attendees’ tastebuds. The participants/teams were: Angelo Adamo (Walter Robbs architectural firm), Steve Berlin (Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton LLP), Jeff Clous of (Gwyn Electrical Plumbing Heating & Cooling), Tom Ferrell (Courtyard by Marriott), Harry Fitzgerald (VP of BBT Insurance Services)/Cameron Kent (News Anchor WXII), Gary Hauser/Gib McEachran /John Hardy (HMC Partners), Peter Juran (Blanco Tackabery), Kevin Kampman (Publisher of Winston-Salem Journa)l, Michael Lalor (CMO Hospice of WS), Jeff Lindsay (COO Novant Health), John McConnell (CEO WFMBC), John McPherson (Coldwell Banker Triad), Stanley Morgan /Tom Kenny, Robert Nichols (Wells Fargo), Elwood Robinson (Chancellor WSSU), Jose Rodriguez (KPMG LLP), Winston-Salem Police Chief Barry Rountree, Rick Smothers (Senior VP Reynolds American), Jim Sparrow (Pres. WS Arts Council /Joe Logan, and Trent Wall (Exec. NewBridge Bank). Those without teams were allowed to have a sous chef on hand. You could tell they were all having fun and they were definitely serving up some deliciousness.

The SECU Family House serves adult patients and caregivers traveling to Forsyth County for healthcare by providing supportive care and affordable family-focused accommodations. Proceeds from the event allow the Family House to continue serving those in medical crisis. In total, the Family House surpassed its goal in raising $75,000 including sponsorships, ticket sales, donations and raffles.

The event was the inaugural fundraiser for the five-year-old organization. SECU Family House executive director Kathy Carr said the mix and mingle party went well beyond their expectations. “We couldn’t have had this party without the food and talent of our chefs. It’s a lot of work. It really means a lot to not only have a good party but to meet the mission of providing affordable lodging and care for these families who, really….are just like you and me. They just have to travel to get their medical care. We’re all in this together. We appreciate that very much.”

Organizers thought it only fitting to invite a few “lady chefs/culinary professionals” to weigh in on the “pro” vote where the contestants dishes were judged and balloted for a few fun trophies.
They were: Claire Calvin of The Porch Kitchen & Cantina; Mary Haglund of Mary’s Gourmet Diner; Janis Karathanas of Providence Kitchen; Lynette Matthews-Murphy of Spring House Restaurant, Kitchen & Bar/Quanto Basta; and Lynn Warlick-Wells, Thyme Well Spent Personal Chef. Matthews-Murphy said she enjoyed being a part of it. “It’s interesting to see all the passion in these dishes. We work in this industry and it’s just so amazing to see that folks who aren’t in the industry find that passion that we also have.” She adds, “You know, people work all day and they come home and they get to be creative and cook for their family. And that’s how we started too…just creating in the kitchen and it’s wonderful to see that here.” Wells agreed, “Being the only judge from Greensboro, it was great to see all the folks here, meet some new people from all walks of life…. and the food was really good!”


The “Ladies” Judges Panel: L to R: Mary Haglund (Mary’s Gourmet Diner); Claire Calvin (The Porch Kitchen & Cantina; Lynette Matthews-Murphy (Spring House Kitchen, Restaurant & Bar/Quanto Basta; Janis Karathanas (Providence Restaurant); Lynn Warlick Wells (Thyme Well Spent Personal Chef)

After the judges ballots were tabulated, the winners of the categories were:

Arts and Innovation Award (Most Creative): McConnell’s BBQ Green Beans
Dive Right In Award (Best Appearance/Presentation): Wall’s Spicy Apricot Glazed Chicken
Bonafide Award (Most Authentic): Chief Rountree’s Cops Chili
Yummy Award: (Tastiest): Hauser/McEachern/Hardy: Guacamole with Smoked Chicken

A “People’s Choice Award” was presented to the top chef who, in addition to donating their time for the event, raised the most tips in their tip jar. All donations support the Family House Mission. The SECU Family House only charges $35 a night to stay, but some folks may be in a financial crisis and those funds go to offset their stay. Winners of the People’s Choice Award was team Fitzgerald and Kent with their Pork Tenderloin. Kent said upon winning, “Events like this is what make Winston-Salem great. People see this turnout and they want to be a part of it. It’s a great cause and we’re so happy to be here.” In total “tip donations” the 20 chefs together raised over $10,000.

The event was such a resounding success that organizers know that they’ll be looking for a larger space for next year. For more information about SECU Family House, its mission, to learn how your organization or business can provide meals, and to learn more about Men Who Cook, visit



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