By Megann Horstead | For The Bugle
The Will County Children’s Advocacy Center turned down the heat and allowed it to simmer and marinade at its annual March 25 Men Who Cook.
The event, held at Pipefitters Local 597 in Mokena, was meant to please attendees by serving up smiles one plate at a time, with the goal of raising funds to help abused children.
Will County State’s Attorney James Glasgow said the event is designed for everyone to enjoy.
“Because of the atmosphere here, food… stimulates conversation,” he said. “If somebody’s going, ‘wow, this is really good.’ You’ll say, ‘well, where did you get that?’ Then, you’ll say, ‘well, you got to try this, too.’ People are talking to each other who had never talked to each other at a normal event.”
Men Who Cook typically features 50 cooks who prepare selections of food for attendees to sample. From macaroni and cheese and meatballs to chili and brisket, a host of dishes were served.
Tom Grotovsky, of Mokena, was preparing beef tenderloin bits au poivre for attendees to try.
“I’ve been doing this nine years ever since it started,” he said. “I started doing it because of what the cause is all about. It’s fantastic for the children right here in our county.”
Grotovsky turned up the heat and let the flame roar across his cooking pan and said everyone seemed to be enjoying what he had to offer.
“Everybody says it’s wonderful,” he said. “I started out with about 50 pounds of this before it’s all trimmed. Then, I seasoned it and [made] my sauce… [I] flame it with cognac, and it turns into a heavy cream.”
Attendee Edward Ronaowski, of Mokena, said he enjoys what the event offers.
“I’ve been to most of them,” he said.
Ronaowski noted that he sampled many different items and said his favorite dish, though, is “the chili.”
Ronaowski said he’s been most surprised by how wonderful the food is.
“It goes from good to great to wow,” he said.
Kathy Hilton, of New Lenox, said she’s glad that she decided to drop in.
“It’s as I remember it,” she said. “I liked it so much last year I came back to it.”
Hilton was mingling while sampling food with her husband.
“It’s a good date night,” she said.
Hilton said she couldn’t believe how many different dishes were featured.
“The variety that these creative chefs constantly come up with [is surprising,]” she said. “Every year, it’s more and more creative.”
Glasgow said he’s pleased by this year’s turnout.
“The pre-sold tickets, I think it was  or 600 on the internet,” Glasgow said. “For a local event, that is truly amazing. I think that people understand that children who are the victims of sexual abuse are special victims in our criminal justice system, and the people who do it are extremely dangerous and must be convicted and punished.”
But that doesn’t end there for abused children, Glasgow said.
“They’re scarred, and it’s critical they get the right intervention psychologically and counseling-wise,” he said. “We also have our [therapy] dogs that are present for the interviews, which really helps to relax the child, lower their stress level so that we get a complete and truthful statement.”
The children are interviewed by trained forensic interviewers who work to build trust with them to obtain the information needed to support a case.
Glasgow said it’s wonderful seeing the way the community comes together for Men Who Cook.
“We’ve been very fortunate,” he said. “Each one has been better than the one before. Last year, we brought in about $75,000, and we’re already pass that.”
Glasgow added that the organization was hoping to reach six figures with the funds received.
This year’s event was sponsored by, in part, by D Construction, Midland States Bank and Ed Czerkies.