Greater Harrisburg's Community Magazine

Chew on a Cause: Food Fundraisers make, then rake in, the dough.

Kings Who Cook

Raising money is tough, even for a good cause.

So, organizations try everything from giving out awards to running 5Ks to get people to support their groups and good deeds. Over the years, some have built fundraisers entirely around food—not as an add-on, but as the main event.

So, we set out to get the skinny on a few of the most popular food fundraisers around Harrisburg.

Central PA Superchef
If you attend the annual Central PA Superchef event at the Hershey Lodge, you can expect larger portions than the traditional sample size. Samples are demi-sized—about the size of a traditional appetizer.

The majority of sponsoring restaurants are standalone establishments, with only a few franchises.

“Superchef gives guests the ability to sample fine dining restaurants at an affordable price,” said event planner Abeer Srouji Allen, co-owner of Events by Eye Candy. “Some of the chefs have appeared on cable TV cooking and restaurant makeover shows.”

Superchef, which just took place last month, creates awareness and raises funds for various local nonprofits.

“A committee chooses different recipient charities each year—those that will have the greatest impact in the local community,” Allen said.

For 2018, the Alzheimer’s Association benefits, with special emphasis on early onset awareness. Past recipients have included Salvation Army, Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, Mission Central and Project CURE.

In 2017, 660 people attended the event, dramatically increasing its turnout since its inception in 2010. From the beginning, Superchef has raised $182,000 for those non-profits, with 100 percent of proceeds donated after expenses.

In conjunction with HACC, Eye Candy is spinning off an amateur version called Homemade Superchef on June 3, in which 12 home cooks will compete for bragging rights and promote farm products. A percentage of proceeds will be split between New Hope Ministries and The Peyton Walker Foundation.

Taste of Central PA
There may be no more natural pairing than the Taste of Central PA and its beneficiary, the Central PA Food Bank.

Jennifer Powell, the food bank’s director of development and communications, described this synergy.

Restaurants, she said, “provide premiere fare to the community while promoting their restaurants, and the food bank receives revenue from ticket sales and sponsorships.”

For the annual October event, local chefs and bakers spread throughout Strawberry Square with their food samples. Ticket-holders help themselves to as much as they like. Powell said that people enjoy the opportunity to sample signature fare and interact with the chefs.

“The community has welcomed, supported and promoted these events,” she said.

Over the Taste’s 30 years, participating restaurants read like a history of Harrisburg dining. In fact, Passage to India, the stalwart Indian restaurant on the river in Shipoke, has been with the event since its inception.

Funds raised from the Taste of Central PA tie directly back to the organization’s mission, its many programs, and are distributed to more than 1,000 program partners. Funds have gone to providing full backpacks for children, to meals for food-insecure children and to an elder share program.

There is also a fairly new program to provide food for veterans and active-duty military. Central PA Food Bank partners with VFWs, the Veteran’s Administration, American Legions and other military organizations.

“We work through our network to provide food discreetly, preserving their dignity,” Powell said.

Kings Who Cook
Kings Who Cook is another food sampling fundraiser held in Strawberry Square.

Instead of professional chefs, though, male amateur cooks—called “kings”—gather each April to make the food. Members of Harrisburg Alumnae Chapter, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, use their extended networks to find and recruit their kings.

“For the most part, our kings cook their food,” said event co-chair Dorothy Guy. “They don’t just serve something their wives made.”

Some notable kings have participated over the event’s 20-year tenure, including Harrisburg Mayor Eric Papenfuse, who has served up his signature chicken salad.

“We get politicians, legislators, secretaries within state government,” Guy said. “One was even a chef for the White House.”

This is an event that annually packs them in, with hundreds of guests.

“This event has become so popular, it has outgrown five venues already,” Guy said. “But we’re pleased with our current venue, and so are our guests.”

She is also pleased with the help her sorority has provided to area students through its competitive scholarship program.

“This allows us to assist students in achieving their career goals,” Guy said. “We’ve awarded over $250,000 to students for college or technical school. We’re very proud of that.”

The community interest and involvement also is important, as Kings Who Cook aligns with the sorority’s goals of community outreach, sisterhood and service.

“Years later, we get to see ladies we’ve awarded scholarships to, and they’re coming back as [sorority] sisters,” Guy said.

Time for a Taste
Food fundraisers occur around central Pennsylvania all year long. So, mark your calendars for these annual events, which is just a sampling.

When: January
Beneficiary: Keystone Human Services

Central PA Soup Cook-Off
When: March or April
Beneficiary: Schleroderma Foundation

Kings Who Cook
When: April
Beneficiary: Student Scholarships
Facebook: Harrisburg Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.

Central PA Superchef
When: April
Beneficiary: Various nonprofits

PA Flavor
When: April
Beneficiary: Scholarships for hospitality students

Harrisburg Beer Week
When: April
Beneficiary: Harrisburg River Rescue

A Taste of Jazz
When: May
Beneficiary: Ministries of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church

Harrisburg Cupcake Cup
When: October
Beneficiary: Central PA Food Bank

Taste of Central PA
When: October
Beneficiary: Central PA Food Bank

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