Men Cook! event returns to Marietta Saturday

MARIETTA — The first year of Washington County Men Cook! was successful so they’re dishing it up again.

A benefit for United Way of Washington County, the event features 29 prominent businessmen, law enforcement officials, public servants and community members cooking up their favorite meals. It will be held from 5 to 7 p.m. Saturday at Quality Inn on Pike Street in Marietta.

“Last year was way more successful than we thought it would be,” said Shauna Cornwell, director of marketing for United Way. “We had about 30 cooks and a couple hundred people attending. This year we are preparing for 250.”

Tickets are $20 for adults, $10 for children 12 and under and $15 for students. The money raised at the event goes to 2-1-1, a free and confidential service provided by the United Way and Pathways. The program helps people across Washington County find the local resources they need by connecting them to an information and referral specialists who will assist them with identifying social services to meet their needs.

“It has been really useful for people of Washington County to get help with anything, like finding employment, free community meals, clothing giveaways…you talk to an actual person and they inform you of the programs available in our community,” said Cornwell.

The menu Saturday will no doubt be vast and varied, with main dishes, appetizers and desserts that range from OSU-Michigan Chili to Oxtail Soup and Vietnamese egg rolls to Bananas Foster.

Bill White, CEO of Offenberger & White, will be trying to retain his title of People’s Choice winner with his popular New Orleans-inspired dessert.

“I’m looking for anyone who thinks they’re up to the challenge,” White joked. “I think a lot of why I won is because I came prepared. I had enough for about 220 when others were running out. (The cooks) know to be prepared for more people this year.”

White incorporates Whit’s custard, provided by Bernita Freimann, and bananas from Food 4 Less into his rum and cinnamon flambeed dish.

“There’s a little drama, a little excitement,” he said.

While the people will choose in one category, a team of professionals will decide Chefs’ Choice.

Patrick and Richard Christy, owners of 134 Bistro, and Henry Leimkuehler, owner of Smokin’ Pigs Ash BBQ, will judge everything from Cajun Jambalaya to macaroni salad.

“I saw the event on Facebook, contacted the organization and volunteered,” said Leimkuehler, a 46-year-old Reno resident. “I thought it was a great way to give back to the community. When I was first diagnosed with cancer in 2012, the community really rallied behind me and still does.”

Leimkuehler was diagnosed with Stage 3 Multiple Myeloma in 2012, shortly after he married wife Barbara. The couple began competing in Kansas City Barbecue Society sanctioned events prior to their wedding and Henry’s diagnosis.

“I have been a certified KCBS judge now for six years and have judged many barbecue competitions all over, from Ohio to West Virginia, Virginia, Indiana and North Carolina. I also own my own food truck and catering and barbecue sauce company,” Leimkuehler said.

Picking a winner will be simple, according to Leimkuehler, as long as three simple things are adhered to: “Is it done? Does it look good and does it taste good?”

For more information about this event, visit facebook.com/UnitedWayofWashingtonCounty.

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