The Kappa Psi Omega Alumnae Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc. is hosting their 23rd annual Men Who Cook to bring families, friends, and members of the Madison community together over a variety of food while fundraising for a scholarship fund for Madison’s high school seniors.
Men Who Cook gathers prominent men of different occupations in the Madison area to compete in a cook-off where they make their own original dishes. This year, Men Who Cook will be held at Kromrey Middle School in Middleton on Saturday, March 11, 2-5 p.m.
This fundraiser was first brought to life by two members of the chapter, T. Ella Strothers and Theresa Sanders, who were inspired by a chapter in Philadelphia that held a similar event. Since its conception in 1994, the Men Who Cook event has been fundraising for the scholarship fund which gives a total of $7,000 to $10,000 in college financial aid to economically disadvantaged minority students in the Madison area.
The men who participate in the cook-off choose from three categories (main dish, side dish, and dessert) to make one dish and generously fund their own resources to cook for about 250 to 300 people as donations for the cause. The attendees who come pay a $25 entrance fee to sample dishes that the men cook and vote on what they think is best. There will be 25 cooks and four judges who are professional chefs this year, and for each category there are awards and prizes for the top dishes.
Many of the men participate in Men Who Cook for the friendly competition, camaraderie, to give back to their local community, and to support the fund. Several of them come back to Men Who Cook every year, but new cooks also come to participate. There is a variety of cultural food that is being made this year including American, Asian, and Hispanic food.
This year will mark Derrick Smith’s fourth year participating in Men Who Cook. Smith, director of strategic planning and special projects at Catholic Charities and president of Madison’s Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity Inc. Alumni Chapter, was reigning dessert champion for the past two years and believes the event is a great opportunity for men like him to show off their culinary skills as well as raise funds for scholarships for those in need.
“I think it’s a great event and a worthy cause to raise scholarship funds for kids who are in underappreciated and undervalued homes,” Smith said.
Jose Madera, assistant dean and director of SySTEM (Synergy in STEM) at College of Letters and Science of the University of Wisconsin-Madison and one of the founding members of the popular Madison musical group MadiSalsa, has participated in seven or eight consecutive Men Who Cook competitions.
“The brotherhood generated among participants is really something,” Madera says. “Throughout the years I have become close friends with many of the participants. Personally, and for very selfish reasons, MWC is one of the most anticipated events of the year.”
The Men Who Cook attendees love Maderas’s arroz blanco con habichuelas coloradas, consistently voted as one of the best side dishes of the event.
“It has become a signature dish and expected by many at the event,” Madera says. “What I really love about this competition is that all the proceeds go towards scholarships making college a reality and affordable to many.”
The fundraising event is sponsored by CUNA Mutual Group, the Middleton-Cross Plains School District, and Kromery Middle School this year. There will also be local vendors and representatives at the event from organizations and companies such as the PEOPLE Program, a Fund for Women, Savanna Beauty Supply, and the Foundation for Madison’s Public Schools.
Enid Glenn, event chair and active member of the chapter for 11 years, said in an interview with Madison365 that Men Who Cook is a great community event for local residents and families to rekindle and connect over delicious food. Although doors open half an hour before the event start, there is often a line of people that wait at the door to come to the cook-off.
This piece was produced by a student reporter in the Madison365 Academy. To learn more and support our educational programs, visit madison365.org/academy.