Merced County Times Newspaper
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Lions host world’s best Cioppino dinner for good cause

Times Photos by Jonathan Whitaker


The Merced Breakfast Lions Club held its 43rd annual Cioppino Dinner last Saturday at the Atwater APC Hall, and the place was packed with enthusiasm.

Known as the Grand Daddy of all Cioppino Dinners, the all-you-can-eat event features a Lions Club time-tested secret Cioppino recipe. Though the details are closely guarded, here’s what the County Times could gather from top chefs David Silveira and Ray Wenham: The cooking for the 7 p.m. dinner starts at 8:30 a.m. and it’s all about “low and slow” — they don’t put the seafood in until the last half hour before they are ready to serve. In all, they use 1,000 pounds of seafood, including about 500 pounds of crab. There’s also about 25 gallons of Italian base sauce too.

The event serves to fund the club’s Legacy Projects that support the greater Merced community with lasting investment. Last year, the Breakfast Lions raised more than $20,000 for their Legacy Projects. These funds are helping the local Love Inc. organization add another Shower Module for use by those who are experiencing homelessness in the community. The Lions are also providing matching funds for a cargo trailer for Cub Scout Pack 96. Last but not least, the Lions are donating funds for new furniture and shelving at the new Teen Center under construction on the second floor of the Merced County Library. These Legacy Projects are not part of the club’s annual budgeting, but a direct result of the Cioppino feed, along with another annual fundraising event the Lions put on later in the year.

Last Saturday’s Cioppino feed also included numerous Raffle prizes and a Dessert Auction.

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