100 Men Who Cook began in 1984 as a fundraising event for the United Negro College Fund. Over the years various non-profit organizations also hosted the black tie gala. In 2013 a small group of individuals decided to incorporate the event as a 501(c)3 organization and began fund raising for multiple grassroots non-profits. Their goal is to support the education and development of Denver’s youth.
I sat down with the Vice President of 100 Men Who Cook, Inc. Norma Paige, who has been with the organization since the beginning. In meeting with her I gained a better understanding of what this event is about and why is it so important for local companies to support.
Kari: What brought you to 100 Men Who Cook?
Norma: My sister. She started this event 34 years ago and brought me on as a volunteer. This was my first introduction to volunteerism. I started by answering phones at a telethon and now I am the Vice President.
Kari: How many people are involved in putting this event together each year?
Norma: There is Chuck Moss the President. I am the VP. Larry Beard is our Chief of Staff. Samir Paige and George Parrish are Chairs of the Chef Committee. We call our volunteers ambassadors because without them we wouldn’t be able to host this event. Including the chefs, there are about 200 volunteers. Together we are what I like to call a rag-tag bunch. We’re passionate about the community.
Kari: Speaking of the community which non-profits will benefit from this year’s event?
Norma: We have two main non-profits that will benefit from this year’s event Jazz C.A.F.E. (Cultivating A Future of Excellence); and the Struggle of Love Foundation. We look to help grassroots organizations that are dedicated to helping to better our children’s future. When we decide on a non-profit we dedicate 3 years to them. This year our goal is to raise $10,000 for each organization.
Kari: Let’s talk about the event. How would you describe the night?
Norma: An elegant experience with gowns, tuxedoes, live entertainment, casino royal and men cooking. It’s who’s-who of Denver, ranging in age from 21-101. I like to call it a party with a purpose (with 650 of your closest friends).
Kari: Sounds like fun! Tell us a little about the food for this year.
Norma: This year we are focusing on healthy dishes. We will have a couple of chefs demonstrating how to make healthy dishes. There will also be some of the family heirloom recipes we all love.
Kari: Who are the chefs that are cooking up all these great meals?
Norma: We have a mixture of chefs from professional, to well-known Denver figures (like Mayor Hancock and local Radio DJ’s), to your nextdoor neighbor who just loves to cook. Our guest professional chefs are Chef D and Chef Scott. We also like to hold the People’s Choice awards where we give out awards to the top chefs in six different categories.
Me: Anything else you would like to add about the event?
Norma: We are still taking entries for chefs. So if you are interested or know someone who is please have them sign up. There are still tickets available for both individual and reserved tables of 10. Please come out and enjoy live entertainment, wonderful food and best of all it is all to help the youth of our community. There are a few surprises we have planned as well.