The sweet aroma of home cooking wafted through the air at the Julian M. Carroll Convention Center on Saturday, but it wasn't women who were doing the cooking. This year, 32 men stepped up for the ninth annual Men Who Cook fundraiser, and the competition was fierce.
Making goodies such as Swedish meatballs, ham and cheese sandwiches, barbecue delicacies and intricate sliders, the men took the reins to raise money for the Purchase Area Sexual Assault and Child Advocacy Center. Men Who Cook is the center's largest fundraiser of the year, bringing in about $20,000 annually. This year, executive director Lorie Brown said the event set a record for the number of corporate sponsors, so Brown said she hopes for a higher total.
"The money goes to support the center, which serves victims of all ages with everything from crisis response to recovery efforts," Brown said. "Some of these guys have cooked all nine years. Others have been recruited along the way."
The convention center was buzzing with people, many who took turns sampling table to table and listened to live music as they dined. City Commissioner Richard Abraham, who has cooked all nine years of the event, created an Asian chicken slider this year, served on a coconut bun with cucumber. He said the event has grown, and with it the competition has grown as well. While men do vie for the four awards available - appetizers, entrÃ©es, desserts and a Taster's Choice - the bigger picture isn't lost, Abraham said.
"The work they do is incredible," Abraham said. "Women go there under the worst circumstances.
"With that agency, there's not a lot of opportunity for a man to help. So this is how we do it, and we give back this way."
Contact Corianne Egan, a Paducah Sun staff writer, at 270-575-8652 or follow @CoriEgan on Twitter.