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LH cooking contest raises funds for Children’s Museum

By Leonardo Romero
La Habra Journal

The Children’s Museum at La Habra held its 24th annual Gourmet Guys Raise “Bread” For Kids fundraiser on Sunday at the La Habra Community Center. Planning for the event began in July by the non-profit organization Friends of The Children’s Museum at La Habra, and the museum staff and guild assisted with coordinating and working the event.

Miguel Pola/La Habra Journal   Local Gourmets: Whitney Sitter, Travis Russell, Brian Reed and his daughter Sydney Reed share their recipe at the La Habra Children's Museum's annual Gourmet Guys event at the La Habra Community Center last Sunday.
Miguel Pola/La Habra Journal
Local Gourmets: Whitney Sitter, Travis Russell, Brian Reed and his daughter Sydney Reed share their recipe at the La Habra Children’s Museum’s annual Gourmet Guys event at the La Habra Community Center last Sunday.

The fundraiser featured a silent auction and a cooking contest with 85 local chefs that entered their dishes into one of the 14 food categories.
Professional chefs judged their entries on preparation difficulty, originality, taste, and presentation.
The chefs that volunteered donated their time and own money into cooking their creations for those in attendance. They were asked to cook a meal that will serve 24 people, because each person willing to taste a chef’s dish was given a sample tablespoon serving.
Besides the best overall awards in each food category there were three special awards, which included most outstanding individual presentation, best group theme, and the people’s choice award.
The dishes were judged before the public was allowed to enter the event, and the medals were awarded once the attendees had a chance to taste the entries.
A few of this year’s winners included Chuck Morse who won first place in both the best bread category and best presentation for his monkey bread, and Sal Failla won first place for the people’s choice award and second place in the beef entrée category with his filet mignon tacos.
Morse is a chef currently writing a cookbook.
This was his tenth year entering the contest and third time winning first in best presentation for his entries. He discovered his monkey bread recipe after one of his granddaughter’s made it for Thanksgiving one year, and he expanded on it by adding walnuts, cashews, and Jack Daniel’s whiskey.

Miguel Pola/La Habra Journal Winning recipes:  Sal Failla (left) won first place for the people’s choice award and second place in the beef entrée category with his fillet mignon tacos. Raymond Phan took second place for his "Wings of Fury" and third place winner Ron Chatman and his "Mr. C's Straight outta Compton dressing and turkey wings."
Miguel Pola/La Habra Journal
Winning recipes: Sal Failla (left) won first place for the people’s choice award and second place in the beef entrée category with his fillet mignon tacos. Raymond Phan took second place for his “Wings of Fury” and third place winner Ron Chatman and his “Mr. C’s Straight outta Compton dressing and turkey wings.”

Failla is the Director of Community Services for the city of La Habra, and deserved winning the people’s choice award since he had the longest line of people waiting to get a taste of his dish.
“All of my brothers have won a gold medal before, so I had been getting nothing but grief. Now I won my gold medal, so they have to be quiet,” said Failla.
According to the Executive Director and Chief Development Officer of the Friends of The Children’s Museum at La Habra, Roy Mueller, they raised around $45,000 at last year’s fundraiser. Starting last year the non-profit began targeting food blogs to garner a grander online presence.
“What we’d like to do in the future is gain more visibility via social media to increase the attendance from local La Habra residents, because I think there’s a lot of people in La Habra that don’t even know about this event that would really love to participate in it,” said Meuller.
This year was the first to feature a student chef category of high school students interested in pursuing a career in the culinary industry.
There were a total of nine students present and seven food entries on their behalf, and they collectively won the first place medal for best group theme.
All of the proceeds from the fundraiser are used to fund the Children’s Museum at La Habra’s current exhibits, upcoming exhibits, scholarships for Title I schools to visit the museum, and special programs, according to the museum’s director Lovely Qureshi.
“The whole purpose of the event is to bring the community together, but mainly so that we can continue operations and have new exhibits coming to the museum,” said Qureshi.

Started in 1995, the La Habra Journal is an independent community news source serving the cities of La Habra and La Habra Heights.