NASCAR fans don’t often find duck confit quesadillas on the menu at racetracks, but visitors to last year’s Men Who Cook presented by CITGO were pleased to discover that Joliet Golf Club Chef Rick Jerding entered them into the competition. They easily won First Place in the Professional Chefs category at the annual event hosted by Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet.
With more than 1,100 attendees last year, Men Who Cook is widely recognized as the largest and most popular, single-day fundraising event in Will County. All proceeds benefit the Will County Children’s Advocacy Center, a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization founded in 1995 by Will County State’s Attorney James Glasgow to provide hope, healing, and justice for abused children.
The event is a fun and casual cook-off competition featuring over 50 local men – leaders in business, construction, accounting/finance, law enforcement, healthcare, manufacturing, real estate, government, education, and media – serving samples of their favorite dish for public judging. The event also welcomes local and regional restaurants to participate, as well as individuals or teams of men.
VIP Sponsors of the event include Presenting Sponsor CITGO, Superhero Sponsor Leopardo Charitable Foundation, Premier Sponsor Waste Management and Partner Sponsors D Construction, Sewer & Tunnel Miners Laborers’ Local #2, Midland States Bank and the Czerkies Family.
Will County State’s Attorney James Glasgow invites the public to taste the home-cooked dishes offered by local chefs. After sampling the cuisine, guests are able to vote for their favorite dishes.
“Our amateur chefs outdid themselves last year with amazing dishes that enthralled the largest and hungriest crowd in the history of Men Who Cook,” said State’s Attorney Glasgow. “I have never tasted so much great food in one location. Each year I find it more difficult to decide which dishes I enjoyed the most.”
Jerding grew up in Frankfort and is a graduate of the Culinary Arts Program at Joliet Junior College -- one of the most highly respected culinary programs in the nation. He is looking to repeat last year’s win by offering shrimp and chorizo tostadas this year.
“The professional chef category was just introduced last year,” Jerding said. “I don’t want to discourage participation from home chefs. The majority of people who enter this competition are just regular folks who like to cook. We actually only had 8 professional chefs out of 50 last year. We’re all here to support the CAC and the tremendous service they provide to our community.”
Sandy Churchwell, Director of Sales & Marketing at Joliet Golf Club, agrees.
“It’s a very important cause,” Churchwell said. “Unfortunately, in today’s society, kids witness things they never should witness. Thank God the CAC is available to provide comfort to abused children and to be an outlet for them to speak freely and find support.”
Although the CAC’s work is a very serious subject, Churchwell says the Men Who Cook event is a lot of fun.
“The atmosphere is great,” Churchwell said. “All the chefs are talking to each other and it’s in the garage of a NASCAR track. How cool is that?”
The competition is divided into four categories for amateur cooks including Appetizer, Side-Dish, Entrée, Dessert, and a fifth, newly created Professional/Commercial Chefs category. Last year’s winners cooked up some incredibly diverse menus.
First Place in the Appetizer category went to the joint entry of Channahon Police Department and Mahoney, Silverman and Cross for their NASCAR Nachos. Second Place was awarded to Will County Sheriff’s Detective Jim Jones for Mini Sweet Peppers. Third Place was a tie between Aaron Janik for Bacon-Wrapped Dates Stuffed with Chorizo and Jeff See for Smoked Prime Rib Sliders.
The Side Dish category saw The Marcum Family consisting of brothers Patrick, Brett, Tyler and their grandfather Jim taking First Place for Fried Corn Cakes. Second Place was awarded to Make Pasteris for Potato Soup. Third Place went to Kris Chernaichit of TIAA Bank for Lao Fried Rice.
First Place in the Entrée category went to Joe Garbin of Farmers Insurance with for his Roasted Pork Tenderloin with Homemade Apples Fennel Slaw. Second Place was awarded to the Shorewood Police Department for Paul Hulbert’s Hawaiian Pulled Pork Sandwiches. Third Place went to Richard Kuczkowski from the Sewer and Tunnel Miners Laborers’ Local 2 for BBQ Beef Bris.
The Dessert category saw Joliet Police Chief Al Roechner take First Place for his Baklava. Second Place was awarded to Will County Executive Larry Walsh for Irene’s Famous Caramels. Third Place saw a tie between Daniel Crane’s Tailgate Sandwiches and Shawn Filipiak of the Joliet Police Department for his Tiramisu.
The State’s Attorney also presented winner medallions to winning chefs in the newly created Professional Chefs Category. First Place went to Rick Jerding from the Joliet Golf Clubfor his Duck Confit Quesadillas. Second Place was awarded to Geoff Tryon and Levi Ealding from Silver Cross Hospital for his Wild Berry Short Rib Skewers. Third Place went to Thomas Moreno from The Blue Taco/United Way of Will County for Chipotle Shrimp with Banana Salsa on a Tortilla with Sweet Potato Chipotle Au Gratin.
“Our talented chefs are raising the stakes this year in what’s going to be the toughest competition in ‘Men Who Cook’ history,” State’s Attorney Glasgow said. “We can never guess who will go home with the winning ribbons. But we know for certain our guests won’t leave hungry after sampling the many fine dishes that will be offered that evening.”
In addition to the variety of food, the event also includes kid’s activities, music, raffles, a cash bar and dining in and around the NASCAR garage area at Chicagoland Speedway.
Pre-sale tickets are available online for $40 per person or $75 per couple. Kids age 6 through 12 are $10 per child, and kids age 5 and under are free.
The Will County Children’s Advocacy Center was established by Will County State’s Attorney James W. Glasgow in 1995 as a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization so that it would not impact Will County taxpayers. As a result, the Will County CAC relies on private and public grants, donations, and fundraisers like the popular Men Who Cook to provide its important services.
When children make an outcry of sexual abuse, a trained and compassionate interviewer obtains an accurate statement in a neutral, non-suggestive, and child-friendly environment. Forensic interviews recorded at the Will County CAC have been used in the successful prosecution of hundreds of child predators. In addition, the staff provides children and families with advocacy services and trauma-informed therapy, to enable the healing process to begin.
To participate as a sponsor or a cook, or to purchase tickets, visit menwhocook.info.