By Rebecca McDonough
The College Station ISD Education Foundation will host the 9th Annual 50 Men Who Can Cook Fundraiser at the Brazos County Expo Complex, February 5, 2016. This event, which features community leaders and representatives from each of the local schools as celebrity chefs, allows guests to go from booth to booth, sampling original recipes provided by the chefs.
“[50 Men Who Can Cook] is unlike anything else that most people have ever attended,” says Teresa Benden, director of the CSISD Education Foundation. “People come, and they don’t really sit down. We don’t have a formal presentation. It’s really about the guests coming to visit with friends, seeing people in the community, and supporting our local public schools while having fun.”
The atmosphere is among the event’s trademark characteristics, including gung-ho celebrity chefs and elaborate themes. Notable appearances include Elvis impersonators, Duck Dynasty characters, and Pirates, complete with pirate ship, as well as fiesta, Italian, and hunting themes.
“The guys are really creative, and that’s what makes the event so much more fun,” says Benden. Although the fundraiser is not technically a contest, guests are allowed to vote, and awards are given out at the end for best entree, best appetizer/side/soup, and best dessert, as well as an award for the best decorated booth.
In addition to getting to taste the various chefs’ dishes, guests have the opportunity to purchase a cookbook containing all of the recipes. Some of the featured chefs for the 2016 event include Dr. Clark Ealy, the Superintendent of Schools for the College Station Independent School District, State Representatives John Raney and Kyle Kacal, as well as KaBoom, the mascot of the Brazos Valley Bombers.
Despite the light-hearted themes and costumes, the event is adult-focused, as the $50 tickets include access to the bar and alcoholic beverages.
A silent auction and raffle are also part of the fundraiser, with all proceeds going to the foundation. The money raised is then used to fund teacher grants, student scholarships, and a newly launched initiative the ISD is implementing called Success 24/7.
Success 24/7 is an online learning website offering students help with the core subjects in grades 7 through 12. This site is designed for students taking regular classes or who have missed class and need extra help, and includes video lectures and notes given by the teachers at the school.
50 Men Who Can Cook, which has grown to encompass 1,500 guests and 68 celebrity chef booths, has become the main fundraiser for the CSISD Education Foundation. The 2015 fundraiser raised $178,000, providing $120,000 in teacher grants and $50,000 in student scholarships for college and technical schools. The goal for the 2016 event is to raise $200,000.
“This is a great community event,” says Benden. “Our community is so generous when it comes to supporting the local non-profits here, and we really appreciate their support. We couldn’t do it without them.”
50 Men Who Can Cook
When : February 5, 2016 6:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.
Where : Brazos County Expo Complex, 5827 Leonard Road, Bryan
Tickets are $50. Sponsorships are available. Visit givetokids.csisd.org