Food and community come together at 25th annual Gourmet Guys fundraiser – La Habra Journal

By Jared Hardy
La Habra Journal

Members of the La Habra community as well as surrounding cities came to the La Habra Community Center on Sunday, October 15 for the 25th annual Gourmet Guys Fundraiser. The event takes place to raise funds for the Children’s Museum at La Habra, and all proceeds from the tickets, auctions, and donations are for the museum. Food is the main draw of the event, and upon entry, guests are overwhelmed with the appetizing scents of the various foods being kept warm. The dishes are all brought in by volunteers that are part of different community organizations, such as the Lion’s Club, Chamber of Commerce, and the School District, among others. What makes this event unique from other potluck style fundraisers is that, by tradition, all of the cooks who volunteer to bring a dish for the event are men (except for students).

The event gives a place for men to showcase their cooking talents and recipes, all while raising money for the Children’s Museum.

The event also is a friendly competition. Each food brought in is registered in one of 14 categories, and is judged before the event opens to the public by professional food judges. Some of the first prize winners were Bobby Wyse and his “Island Abelskivers” that won the bread category, John Creed and his “Bacon Street Tacos” that won for pork, and Jack Gregg’s “Jack Hammered Pie” that won cakes and pies. In the student category (separate from the others), Lydia Marquez took home first prize with her “Amish Friendship Bread”. This bread is prepared over the span of 10 days, having the dough kneaded over and over again each day.

“I wanted a chance to bake and be able to share it with others to make them happy,” Marquez said.

Second place went to Matthew Gunderson’s “Mud Pie Masterpiece” and third place was Zane Drew and Manuel Garcia’s enchiladas. Another aspect to the competition of the event was that each organization had a theme to design their tables and even their food if possible. The Lion’s Club won first for presentation with their theme “Men At Work” as they put up caution tape around the table and were dressed in safety vests and hard hats. The Chamber of Commerce had a circus themed table for second place. The La Habra School District won third with their themed table of Jimmy Buffett’s “Margaritaville” and had appropriately named dishes such as “Come Monday, It’ll Be Alright Cupcakes” and Jeff Snyder’s “Pulled Pork In Paradise”.

Some of the cooks shared why they take the time to prepare food as volunteers for the event. Leon Lesa, whose “Italian Seafood” soup won first place in the seafood category.

“I was asked to volunteer a few years ago and I’ve been doing it ever since. I love what the museum does for the kids as well,” Lesa said. Bradley Davis, who took home third place in pastas with his delectable “Not Your Momma’s Meat Sauce” stated, “I had a friend mention it to me about 10 years ago, and I’ve been a part of it ever since. I liked the concept of showcasing the cooking skills of some of the guys in the community.” The event was coordinated by Roy Mueller, the Executive Director and Chief Development Officer for the La Habra Children’s Museum, and Lovely Qureshi, the Managing Director of the museum. “The funds raised will help fund new exhibits for the museum. We have a new STEAM lab coming in this month, and we have kids’ programming that reaches out to schools,” Qureshi said. “Right now we have a program called ‘Little Innovators’ that helps preschoolers get an early start on STEM learning.”

In her address at the event, Mayor Rose Espinoza said, “The children’s museum has done so much for our community in keeping kids out of trouble, it is such a good thing.”

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