Bloomingdale's 50 Men Who Cook event benefits schools

Forget the image of dad making hot dogs and burgers on the grill.

The participants in Bloomingdale's 50 Men Who Cook know their way around a kitchen. They will be serving up dishes such as stuffed shells, barbecue pork sliders and corned beef when the annual cook-off returns 6 to 8 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 28, to the Hilton Chicago/Indian Lakes Resort, 250 W. Schick Road.

Hosted by the Bloomingdale Chamber of Commerce, the event brings together local male residents, community leaders and dignitaries to prepare their favorite recipes for attendees to sample and judge. There's also going to be live entertainment and raffle prizes. The result is an evening of great food that helps raise money for public schools in Bloomingdale.

“It's a foodie haven,” said Jane Hove, president and CEO of the chamber of commerce. “It's really good stuff.”

The Bloomingdale cook-off was modeled after 100 Men Who Cook events in Chicago and around the country. Participants compete in several categories, including appetizer, entree, side dish and dessert. The winner of each category gets a chef's jacket and bragging rights.

Mayor Franco Coladipietro has participated in each of the Bloomingdale cook-offs since they began in 2009.

“It's a great community event that supports our schools,” Coladipietro said. “I love to cook. And it's fun to be out there with other guys who like to cook.”

Like last year, Coladipietro is going to make pork, steak and chicken tacos. He'll be competing in the crowded entree category.

“I'm trying (to get a win),” he said. “But there's a lot of good food. The competition is tough.”

Another returning cook is Stan Poplonski, whose cake balls were declared the best dessert during last year's competition. Thirteen other competitors are expected to vie for this year's tastiest dessert title.

The event draws food lovers from throughout the area, with about 450 people attending last year. Organizers expect a larger turnout this year.

“There's great buzz in the community about it,” Hove said. “Ticket sales are going well.”

Tickets are $25 each. But with so many food options, Hove said, attendees get their money's worth.

“It's basically a 50-course meal for $25,” she said.

In fact, Hove recommends attendees pace themselves while eating the samples. “You want to try everything because you vote at the end,” she said.

And don't make dinner reservations for after the event because you won't need it.

“You come away very full,” Hove said.

For those who want to make some of the dishes at home, a cookbook will be sold at the event. It will contain about 30 recipes, including several award-winning entries from past years.

Proceeds from the event will support wellness activities at all three schools in Bloomingdale Elementary District 13, as well as at Winnebago Elementary School in District 15 and Stratford Middle School in District 93.

Fifty men from the community will prepare their favorite recipes during the 50 Men Who Cook event in Bloomingdale. Among the cooks returning this year are Patrick Ranallo, left, and his son Dominick. They plan to make Italian hamburgers. Courtesy of the Bloomingdale Chamber of Commerce

If you go

What: Bloomingdale's 50 Men Who Cook

Why: Proceeds benefit schools serving Bloomingdale

When: 6 to 8 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 28

Where: East pavilion tent at Hilton Chicago/Indian Lakes Resort, 250 W. Shick Road, Bloomingdale

Details: Attendees get to sample the entrees, sides and desserts and vote for their favorites

Cost: $25 per person


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