Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Community Notebook

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Community Notebook

Article excerpt

Byline: John Carter, Staff writer

Urban Ministries of Springfield has come up with a tasty plan to raise funds for its mission, which is to provide after-school activities for inner-city children and other social services for downtown folks in need.

The non-profit group calls it "Jacksonville Men Cooking for the Children" -- and the name pretty much says it all.

It's set for 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday at the Gateway Center, 5184 Norwood Ave.

Several men have volunteered to show off their culinary skills by preparing a favorite dish, which the public -- for a small fee -- will be allowed to sample. Each man will be assigned a two-hour shift.

The men will prepare a favorite dish from one of these categories: baked goods, casseroles, meat dishes, pasta, salads, seafood, soup or vegetables.

The public will be asked to purchase coupon books that contain five $1 coupons. The hungry attendees can then use a coupon to sample any dish they fancy.

Even though the main purpose of the event is to provide financial support for Urban Ministries, the men "tend to be very, very competitive" and seem awfully anxious to compete for bragging rights, according to one of the event organizers.

"These men take their cooking very seriously," said Carolyn Ball-Pride, an Urban Ministries volunteer and event coordinator. "They're doing all this for a good cause, of course, but they really like to show off their specialities. I'm afraid there's always a bit of bragging that goes along with men cooking. But then again, many of these dishes are pretty terrific."

The male cook who gets the most coupons for a dish will be declared the winner and receive an apron signed by all the competitors.

Ball-Pride knows a bit about male culinary competitors because she also helped organize a similar event for the United League's United Negro College Fund a couple of years ago.

Some of the same men will compete in Saturday's event, and Ball-Pride says to be sure to sniff out a couple of dishes their creators believe can't be beat. Kenneth Cook, she said, prepares a Mediterranean spicy chicken he's convinced is a sure winner. …

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