Pro-To Cook-off spotlights men’s culinary skills

Tony Casey • Sep 10, 2013 at 10:55 AM

So, gentlemen, you think you can cook? Now you have a chance to show off your best dishes.

The Pro-To Club is having a Men’s Cook-off on Sept. 21 at Carver Recreation Center, 322 W. Watauga Ave. Judges will try dishes from contestants, entered in three categories. The winners of each category, meats, vegetables, and desserts, will walk away with the victory and $100.

The proceeds are going to the club’s scholarships program and student development workshops for local community children.

Walter Buford, committee chairman for the cooking competition, gives all due respect to the female chefs out there, but says this contest is for the kitchen-inclined men of the area.

“Often, the men don’t get a chance to showcase their cooking,” Bufford said. “This gives a chance for them to show the community their culinary skills.”

He said it’s in the works to have this cooking contest develop into a competition including women, too. The idea originated from a friend of Buford’s in North Carolina, who told him how great of a fundraiser it was.

“We figured we’d bring it over the mountain,” Buford said.

The difference between this competition and the one in North Carolina is the use of judges to pick a winner.

Members of the committee said there should be about 10 judges to decide the cooking fates of the contestants. One such judge is Boyce Turner of Peerless Restaurant. Turner had received culinary training from Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College, and will be presenting a few dishes from his restaurant and some dishes of his own, including Greek meatballs with marinara, prime rib with barbecue sauce and five-layer carrot cake. When it comes to judging the competition, Turner makes no bones about what he’s looking for from contestants.

“I’m looking for a combination of uniqueness, presentation, and originality,” Turner said. “I don’t want to see that someone used a bottle of Heinz, I want to see that they used their soul.”

Another of the announced judges for the cook-off includes local food columnist Fred Sauceman.

The competition costs $15 to enter, and contestants should be prepared to have enough food to serve around 25-30 people. There are no restrictions or recommendations on the style of the cuisine, and this is something committee members see as the best part of the competition.

Hugh Collie Jr., a member of the Pro-To Club, which stands for Progressing Together Club, referred to the entry as “all you can eat for $10.” The $10 price is for adults, and children, ages 5-17 get in for $5, with those ages four and under getting in for free.

The cook-off is slated to run from 1-5 p.m. Tickets can be purchased from club members or at Taste Buds.

For more information about the competition, call Angelo Newman at 483-4542 or Evelyn Debro at 929-1888.

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