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21 chefs highlight Big Brothers Big Sisters event

The "Chefs Cooking For Kids" committee gathers at the Englewood Event Center message board. Front row, from left: Danica Harris, Ruth Killinger, Loren Mayo of the BBBS staff, Jean LaRussa, Brenda Peckham and Mary Beth Harris, BBBS staff member. Back row: Jim Laurent, Sheriff's Deputy Dan Cotton, Al Killinger and Don Mahon.

The “Chefs Cook­ing For Kids” com­mit­tee gath­ers at the Engle­wood Event Cen­ter mes­sage board. Front row, from left: Dan­ica Har­ris, Ruth Killinger, Loren Mayo of the BBBS staff, Jean LaRussa, Brenda Peck­ham and Mary Beth Har­ris, BBBS staff mem­ber. Back row: Jim Lau­rent, Sheriff’s Deputy Dan Cot­ton, Al Killinger and Don Mahon.

By Don Mahon

ENGLEWOOD, Fla. – A ded­i­cated group of vol­un­teers for Englewood’s Big Broth­ers Big Sis­ters is work­ing to fill the hall at the Engle­wood Event Cen­ter for its sig­na­ture fund-raiser, “Chefs Cook­ing for Kids.”

Fes­tiv­i­ties get under­way at 6 p.m. Sat­ur­day, Oct. 25, and 21 chefs from local restau­rants and the com­mu­nity will offer their spe­cialty dishes.

One par­tic­i­pant is Linda Bon­will, who brings strong cre­den­tials to the event as a world cham­pion cook. She has entered the World Food Cham­pi­onships in Las Vegas for the last two years and will again in Novem­ber. Some 450 chefs, mostly pro­fes­sion­als from around the world, enter the event. Two years ago, Linda was crowned world cham­pion in her ‘side dishes’ cat­e­gory. Her offer­ing was Cobb Potato Salad and she took home $10,000.

Linda Bonwill will be on hand to offer her specialities at "Chefs Cooking For Kids.' She's pictured here with Jim Laurent, a Big Brothers Big Sisters Director and committee member.

Linda Bon­will will be on hand to offer her spe­cial­i­ties at “Chefs Cook­ing For Kids.’ She’s pic­tured here with Jim Lau­rent, a Big Broth­ers Big Sis­ters Direc­tor and com­mit­tee member.

I learned to cook from my grand­mother in Con­necti­cut at a young age and enjoy com­pet­i­tive cook­ing,” Linda said. “Rais­ing four kids chal­lenged my cre­ativ­ity around the kitchen,” she added. “Now, my kids love cook­ing and my two young grand­daugh­ters are learn­ing.” Both her hus­band and four kids encour­aged her to try com­pet­i­tive cook­ing and it’s led to her success.

For “Chefs Cook­ing for Kids,” Linda will offer a vari­ety of home­made gourmet choco­late desserts.

When not cook­ing or look­ing after her kids, Linda helps Mike run their store, Pro Marine Sup­ply Store in Nokomis.

While Linda’s recipes con­tain hun­dreds of dif­fer­ent ingre­di­ents, her recipe for suc­cess boils down to hard work, ambi­tion and an undy­ing love for food.

Besides a large array of culi­nary delights, atten­dees will be enter­tained by Rick Krieger and Henry Monzello with their musi­cal selec­tions. Also fea­tured will be a silent auc­tion with dozens of valu­able items donated by local mer­chants. A lucky win­ner will take home a wheel­bar­row filled with cheer.

Tick­ets are $30 and may be ordered by call­ing Mary Beth Har­ris at 941−764−5812, or email­ing her at mharris@bbbssun.org..

The event ben­e­fits the Big Broth­ers Big Sis­ters pro­gram in Engle­wood. More than 140 school-age chil­dren are cur­rently matched with men­tors and 28 boys and girls are wait­ing for a Big. For more infor­ma­tion, or if you would like to become a Big, please call Natalie Ander­son, Engle­wood Men­tor Man­ager, at 941−473−4003 or email her at nanderson@bbbssun.org.

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