Merced County Times Newspaper
The Power of Positive Press
John Miller

Local celebrity chefs compete for area students

The scents of fresh made food filled the Merced Civic Center on Sunday as the 25th annual Concerned Men Cook for Education brought the community together for a culinary extravaganza.

The food tasting festival brings together the area’s best chefs, both professional and those with a knack for cooking, to help provide scholarships and support educational activities for the youth of Merced.

Each year the event brings together a wide range of professionals, ranging from local politicians and executive directors, to business owners and up and coming young chefs looking to show off their culinary talents for a good cause and win a top prize for their dish.

Concerned Men Cook is organized by Multicultural Connections, Incorporated. Scholarships generated from the proceeds are available to full-time students of 2 or 4-year colleges who are involved in community service, hold their GPA in the upper-half of their class, and engage with the community to create a positive impact.

This year’s scholarships were awarded to Makayla Jones McClune, Alyssa French, Lajae Riley, and Breann Edwards. In total, the organization has awarded 44 scholarships that have provided college-bound seniors with a stipend for living and personal expenses.

This year’s event brought together over two-dozen chefs who had prepared appetizers, seafood, casseroles, gumbos, chili, entrees, and desserts for hungry participants. One of the most awarded chefs of the night, Chef Rafael Melendez, captured both event judges and participants attention in particular. Cooking for his third year at the event, the chef said he wanted to use his talents to help his community.

“I think this is one of the most important events for kids because it helps keep kids out of trouble and off of the streets,” Melendez said.

He went on to prepare and serve a turkey chili, macaroni pasta dish, and chili verde empanadas.

Those who would like to learn more about Multicultural Connections, Incorporated or receive more information about opportunities to sponsor events and support the scholarship fund are encouraged to contact the organization at 358-3636.

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