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Dining A La King: First 100 Men Who Cook shaping up as popular event

Nearly 100 men are going to put on aprons and goofy hats and work together to help the Boys & Girls Club of Elkhart County. The inaugural 100 Men Who Cook, being planned for Oct. 24 at the Northern Indiana Event Center, will feature cooking, auctions and a lot of fun. 

100 Men Who Cook

When: 6 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 24

Where: Northern Indiana Event Center, 21565 Executive Parkway, Elkhart 

Tickets: Sold out, though volunteers still needed. Call 574-534-5933

Attire: Casual

To see the chefs and leave tips:

Men from across the community are plotting what food they’ll prepare for the event, at which they’ll serve small portions of it. They’ll collect tips based on popularity, how good the food is and how much they sell whatever they’re doing. 

RELATED: 100 Men Who Cook event brings together prominent professionals to cook for a cause, Sept. 23

This is the first time the event is happening in this community, though Old National Bank has made it happen in Bloomington, Terre Haute and other places. Alex Strati, Michiana regional president for the bank, wanted it to happen here. Bank employees, as well as those from the Boys & Girls Clubs of Elkhart County and other volunteers, have been working together for months to plan the evening.

It’s been fun to help. I’m excited about the event. I’ll be one of the guys wearing that floppy chef’s hat and an apron. I’m making flourless chocolate cake from an Emeril Lagasse recipe I’ve used a bunch of times for special occasions. It was published before he was famous and each cake has a pound of chocolate and plenty of butter, sugar and cream.

Kevin Deary, president of the Boys & Girls Club, said he’s making clam chowder. Attorney Mike Pianowski said he’s making shrimp ceviche. Pete VanBaalen, general manager of The Elkhart Truth, is making ham roll-ups. Insurance agent Rocky Enfield said he’s making roasted veggies on naan with a roasted red pepper hummus spread and topped with freshly grated parmesan cheese. Cam Snyder of Chubby Trout and Flippin’ Cow is making Filet Oscar with crab, asparagus and a hollandaise infused with Hefeweizen. Merle Anderson of Cappy’s and Pete’s Simonton Lake Tavern will be making frog legs with the “happy Cappy” sauce.

You can see the full list of chefs and leave tips at

There will be plenty of good food. I expect there will be meatballs and chicken wings, but some fancier stuff, too.

Anderson is thrilled about the event because of how he benefited from the Boys Club in his California hometown of Buena Park. He was a literal poster boy when the club raised money for a new building in the 1950s.

“It was a great time in my life,” he said. He and neighbor friends would hang out at the club and do activities. Those fond memories made him eager to help with this event.

Since this is a first-time event, let’s answer a few questions.

How’s this different than other fundraisers? There are a bunch of fundraising events in Elkhart County at which people donate big money to community causes or nonprofits. That often happens through auctions and ticket sales. This one tries to pull in 100 men from the community to step forward to help. Tipping is underway online now and will continue at the event.

Asking 100 men to cook and prompt tipping generates competition. There are challenges and side-bets already to see who can raise more money.

Who’s the honorary chairman? Father Edward “Monk” Malloy, former president of the University of Notre Dame, is the honorary chairman. He’s on the national Boys & Girls Club board and is offering an auction item that’s very cool. It’s lunch with him and a private, behind-the-scenes tour of Notre Dame. He’s excited about the event, Deary said.

What else will be in the auctions? There will be big-ticket items, including trips and use of cool properties, in the live auction and smaller items in the silent auction. I’m offering a four-course progressive dinner for a group of six through Elkhart restaurants. Deary and I will host a group for a great evening sometime in the future.

Why is this event a big deal? “Boys & Girls Club” has so much opportunity to grow here,” Strati said. But growth often takes money and this fundraiser will help raise funds so that can happen. Right now, the Elkhart club has about 270 young people every weekday at three school sites. This winter, that could approach 350 young people daily, said director James Taylor.

Can I still get tickets? That’s a tough one. Because sponsors have already given generously and family and friends of the 90-plus men want to come, the event is essentially sold out, though a few $75 tickets might fall loose. There might be as many as 700 people at the event. Volunteers are still needed, which could be the way you get in the door. Call the Boys & Girls Club’s main office at 574-534-5933. 

Marshall V. King is food columnist for Flavor 574 and community editor for The Elkhart Truth. You can reach him at 574-296-5805,, and on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.

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