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January 28, 2014

Full house at CASA fundraiser

MT. VERNON — —

Delicious food — from soups to fine delicacies — were enjoyed on Saturday evening at the annual Men Cooking for CASA fundraiser.

CASA is the acronym for Court Appointed Special Advocates. CASA volunteers are a voice for children in the juvenile court system.

Becky Whisenant, executive director of CASA, reported Monday no totals from the fundraiser are available yet, although the organization is grateful for the community support it received at the fundraiser.

"We had the room set for 300, and we had very few empty seats. It was packed," Whisenant said.

One change from previous years proved to be beneficial — chefs were placed in a circle in the Holiday Inn's atrium, rather than in the ball room.

"We did that to make it more roomy, and I think it was a good decision," Whisenant said. "We had a lot of compliments from our guests — they were full and ready to make recipes from our cookbook." Whisenant said the third annual event also had representation from both the city police and fire departments.

"We had several new chefs, and they all had on their matching aprons and chef hats. That's always a nice touch," Whisenant said.

Troy Heitmeyer and Tony Mezo repeated as the People's Choice winners — selected by the participants by placing tips at their table. The duo made smoking cheese competition ribs.

Other winners named at the event include: Ryan Swan, main dish, tompomodoro crostini with parmesan cream and balsamic reduction; Drew Millwood and Adam Robinson, best soup/chili; Dan Knox, best dessert (doodle cake); Brandon Mandrell, best appetizer (crab stuffed mushrooms); and Mark Spence, best table decoration, which included a South African theme.

Whisenant said the silent and live auctions went well, with lively participation.

"People were generous with their bids, and for that, we're thankful," she said.

About 35 vendors — all men — participated in the cooking. Souvenir cookbooks were provided to those purchasing tickets.

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