Turning Up the Heat

By Lisa Northrop, SECU Family House

A new version of the SECU Family House’s signature Men Who Cook fundraising event, presented by Wake Forest Baptist Health, is on the front burner for March.

Typically, Men Who Cook brings together local male amateur chefs and their cooking teams who battle it out to please the tastebuds of nearly 400 hungry attendees.  Participating chefs come from all sectors of the Winston-Salem community from banking to clergy, lawyers to realtors, higher education to local media, and everything in between.

Leigh Cameron-Atkins has attended the event every year since its inception. “The first year, my friends came to support me as a member of the Family House board. Since that first evening, they now ask me when tickets will go on sale each year because they don’t want to miss it. We enjoy the fellowship with each other and the amazing food, but it’s more than that. The room is filled with giving hearts and a genuine love for the Family House that is unlike any other event I’ve attended. Men Who Cook has become one of our favorite social outings of the year.”

The coronavirus pandemic iteration of Men Who Cook will entail an auction of private dinners provided by some of your favorite Men Who Cook chefs plus some new venues and chefs. This year, people will bid on their own personalized dining experience. Whether it be an outdoor barbeque with ten friends, an intimate in-home three-course meal, or a casual picnic and wine pairing at a local winery, there will be a safe option for you and those in your pandemic bubble.

“I expect the 2021 Men Who Cook event to be just as successful this year, if not more so. My friends and I have already talked about the new format and are eager to see what options might be available for us to bid on as a group. Hint…we’re partial to a picnic and wine pairing option,” says Cameron-Atkins.

She may have a couple of experiences to place her bid on. Peter Mikeal is returning as a chef with his partner, realtor Jason Bragg, to auction off a 5-course wine tasting with food pairings for up to 10 people at his urban farm. Kevin Kampman is returning to serve his show-stopping paella dish at the tasting room of RayLen Vineyards.

“Anyone who likes new experiences and has a love of food and wine, will enjoy this culinary journey,” says Mikeal. “I have always enjoyed finding wines that are diamonds in the rough and virtually unknown. This meal was driven by those unknown gems paired with food that creates something better than the sum of its parts.”

The Family House, which is conveniently located near Winston-Salem’s two major hospitals, has served as home base for folks from 95 North Carolina counties and 45 states and has welcomed more than 41,000 overnight guests since opening its doors in 2011.  When families come to our area with their loved ones for medical treatment – whether planned or in emergency situations – the Family House provides a welcoming, comfortable atmosphere for rest, food, community and more. There is a small overnight fee for guests, and a Family House assistance fund is in place thanks to faithful donations and events like the Men Who Cook fundraiser. In typical years, Men Who Cook events raise an average of $140,000 for the SECU Family House.

“While I’d rather be together with all my friends and neighbors at our typical in-person event, I think this version will create some really unique memories!” says Kathy Carr, executive director of the Family House. “I encourage you to bid on the experiences and support our wonderful families.”

In addition to Mikeal and Bragg, returning chefs include Dr. Michael Lalor, John Elster, Dr. Michael Lischke, Phil Roethle, and Joey Skelton, Kimberly and Eric Stone, Bill Adams, David Barksdale and John Millican, Trent Wall, Peter Juran, John Mann, Kevin Kampman, Chris Lyon and new this year, chef Jeff Bacon along with a few other surprise venues and chefs!

Generous sponsors include presenting sponsor Wake Forest Baptist Health, as well as Novant Health, Publix Super Markets Charities, Garner Foods, Allegacy Federal Credit Union and Forsyth Magazines. There are still openings for sponsorships and chef teams.

Make plans to choose your own personalized experience when bidding is open March 15-20 when Winston-Salem’s own will don their aprons and grab their whisks for a great cause! Other ways to participate other than bidding include making a tip donation to your favorite chef, or purchasing one of our fun meal-themed items. $40 helps one family for one night and all tips support Family House families!

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Bidding Open March 15 – 20, 2021


Contact Tracy Geiger at the SECU Family House at 336-793-2822 or tracy.geiger@familyhousews.org for more information.


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