Dining With Denise Neil

Dude food: When 100 Wichita men are cooking at once, you’re sure to be stuffed

Alan Banta was the big winner at last year's 100 Men Who Cook fundraiser.
Alan Banta was the big winner at last year's 100 Men Who Cook fundraiser.

If every dad in Wichita whipped up every plate of ribs, every pot of chili and every batch of salsa he'd become famous within his family for making and invited everyone in for a tasting, the result would likely be quite similar to 100 Men Who Cook, a fundraiser for the Pando Initiative now in its second year.

The event, which happens Saturday night at the new Mark Arts building at 1307 N. Rock Road, is a giant tasting that features recipes prepared by Wichita men — some city councilmen, some members of law enforcement, some restaurant owners, some just regular husbands and fathers.

"It's kind of like the favorite family dish that they're well known for," said Nancy Hinten, the Pando Initiative's executive director, who helped recruit the contestants. "Some of them have been experimenting with different dishes, trying to tweak them and make them better."

The chefs, including well-known Wichitans like City Councilman Bryan Frye, County Commissioner David Dennis and local attorney Gary Patterson, will be stationed all around the venue, and attendees will travel from station to station, sampling the recipes. Last year, those who attended were stuffed on tacos, ceviche, barbecue and a whole lot of dips. This year, there will be all that plus more desserts.

"We'll have salmon, seafood, barbecue — all kinds of stuff," Hinten said. "It's going to be just as good if not better than last year."

Ticket holders also will get two alcoholic beverages of their choice, and each person will leave with a cookbook listing all the recipes from the evening. Organizers raise money not just through ticket sales but also with chef “tipping.” Each of the cooks has been asked to encourage his supporters to tip him online in advance of the event, and tip jars will be set out at each table that evening. The men who raise the most money will be named the top chefs at the event.

This year, attendees also will vote for the booth with best decorations and for the one that serves the most delicious dish. The evening also will include a live auction, where several dinner packages prepared by local celebrities, chefs and restaurants will be up for bid.

Tickets are $75 a person. To buy tickets and to see a list of the chefs (and to offer them tips in advance of the event), visit thepandoinitiative.org.

The Pando Initiative, formerly Communities in Schools, is a group that helps nearly 2,000 students attending 23 area public schools become better engaged in school with tutoring, mentoring and more.

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