Peekskill men have been in the kitchen long before television turned male chefs into celebrities. This Saturday, the city’s Youth Bureau hosts the 16th Annual “Men Who Cook” event, which both raises funds for youth programs, and highlights the positive role Peekskill men play in the community.
Forty local chefs—men who either work for the city, own businesses, or live in Peekskill—will cook their favorite dishes for the benefit, which takes place at the Youth Bureau at 828 Main Street in Peekskill from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. The event is open to the public; admission is $20, with discounts for seniors and children taken at the door. This year the event is dedicated to the memory of Roger Hamilton, a prominent Peekskill business owner, community volunteer and an annual participant in the program who died late last year.
Proceeds from the event will be used to purchase commercial cookware, according to Valerie Swan, Director of the City of Peekskill Youth Bureau. “Our kitchen provides a place where young people become engaged with healthy food by preparing and eating nutritious snacks,” said Swan. “It’s also a general fundraiser for our programs, which serve over 100 youth in the community.”
Several youth program participants will prepare their own dishes—using the bounty from the Youth Bureau’s garden—and serve them alongside the adult chefs, gaining cooking, organization and leadership skills along the way, she added.
Justin Rice, 22, a Peekskill resident and father of two who spent time in jail before joining the bureau’s Youth Build program, is among those participants.
“The Youth Bureau is like my home,” said Rice, who recently earned his G.E.D. and is learning construction skills through the Bureau. “Everyone here is so incredibly positive and that has really helped me turn my life around.” Rice is preparing sautéed spinach and a stuffed pork loin for the “Men Who Cook” event.
Local chefs include Anthony Ruggiero, Peekskill's City Manager; Brent Van Zandt, Peekskill’s Director of Public Works; and Arnie Paglia, owner of the Division Street Grill. The event also features the music of the Kenny Lee Jazz Band Trio. The evening’s tribute to Roger Hamilton will honor his contributions to the community including his work with the Hudson Valley Gateway Chamber of Commerce, the Business Improvement District, the Peekskill Celebration, and his award-winning recipes at Men Who Cook.
The Peekskill Youth Bureau aims to provide the city’s children and youth ages 5 through 24 with the tools and skills to become good citizens and competent leaders in the 21st century. Programs address issues including poverty, hunger, unemployment, education and social and emotional development and include leadership training, summer employment and the opportunity to earn a high school diploma.