Phoenixville residents compete during PAPA's ‘Males Cooking For You” event

Photo by Virginia Lindak
Neal Saunders, surprise dish of spaghetti
Photo by Virginia Lindak Neal Saunders, surprise dish of spaghetti

Last Friday night community members showed their skills at Phoenixville Area Positive Alternatives’ “Males Cooking For You.”

The third-annual cooking competition was held at Franklin Commons with close to 20 chefs participating. The event was open to the public and proceeds benefited PAPA’s youth programs.

Attendees dressed up for the night, wearing black and white attire. Attendees enjoyed music and dancing. The night’s activities also included a raffle, and auction items.

“It’s for a good cause, to support and help fund our after school programs,” said event organizer Dolores Windston.“It’s a good opportunity for people who want to enjoy themselves come to an event that is a good cause and they can have a good time. It’s an opportunity to network.”


Phoenixville resident Neil Thomas was a participating chef. He made Caesar salad with chicken mixed in it as well. He wanted to make something light and healthy.

”It’s something that America loves...salad. You can’t go wrong,” Thomas said.

He shared what he thought about the event.

“Tonight brings everyone together,” Thomas said.“Everyone is here tasting food and enjoying themselves. A lot of people just have the same old thing everyday. This brings them out to taste different food, and to try something different. Maybe they can make it at home.”

Another chef, Juan Melendez, Jr., made rice with Pegin beans and roast pork. He got involved when his friend Ken Winston, who is the executive director of the film center and community center in West Chester, asked him to sign up. He also loves to cook.

“I learned a lot from my mom,” Melendez said. “This is a traditional plate that we usually cook for Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s.” Melendez was happy to be a part of the community event.

“I’m trying to help integrate the community center with the Latino community,” he said.“This is how I am starting off. The community center needs more Latinos, more integration with the community so they can help out with events. I’m trying to do that with my friend Ken Winston. It’s a great opportunity to put out the Latin community, so they can come out and support.”

PAPA board member Anita Cardoza was also in attendance.

“This is my first time for this event,” Cardoza said.“We like to help out in anyway we can. I obviously am partial to this because it’s a great cause.”

Cardoza remembered why the night was important, and how funds directly support programs for the area youth.

She said, “Instead of seeing the youth running around just doing nothing, they actually take pride in having something of their own. They have ownership.This is their thing.”

“I have youngsters that age, so it means something personal to me that kids have somewhere to go (PAPA programs),” she said.“I always see it as an investment. Let’s not wait until this generation gets older. We need to start getting them to give their civic duty now. This is their Phoenixville. I believe in this. I really do. You’re never too young. We want what we’re dong today to reverberate.”

Jay Winston, another town resident, made a fried cabbage dish. He got involved with the competition through his sister, Dolores Winston.

“It’s so nice to come out and network, see people in the community. And you get to taste a lot of good food.”

Neil Saunders, contributed a surprise dish which was spaghetti. He was glad to be a part of the evening.

“It brings people together. When everybody can eat, people are happy,” Saunders said.

Saunders joked, “I like to cook but I don’t like the cleanup.”

Ralph Beardon made turkey meatballs and garlic bread. He heard about the competition through his church where event organizer Winston is a member. He likes to cook a little bit on his own time. “It’s good cause. Anything for the kids that can help the community, I’ll be a part of it.”

Phoenixville resident Sarah Bozzelli attended the event. Her husband was also a participating cook.

Bozzelli said, “We donate to the PABA basketball league every year. It’s a good event, it brings everybody together and its fun. It’s a nice evening out.”

The winner of the chef competition was Phoenixville Area High School PrincipalDr. Craig Parkinson whomade meatballs.

Dolores Winston asid, “They were delicious. They had a different taste...tangy, almost like a barbecue a twist to it. You don’t expect meatballs to have a barbecue sauce taste. It was delicious.”

Winston would like to thank all the sponsors and chefs who participated in the event. The sponsors were Franklin Commons, Drexelbrook Catering, Phoenixville Community Education Foundation, Phoenixville Area School District, Phoenixville Gateway Pharmacy, Kimberton Whole Foods, Phoenixville Massage & Bodywork, Bridge Street Chocolates, Collegeville Movie Tavern, Great Clips Hair Salon, Chick-Fil-A, Texas Road House, Country Nail’s Salon, Roseann’s Hair Studio, Phoenixville YMCA, Grace Works, Sylvia Foreman, Nancy Gray-Lee, Sherry Davison and Phantom TV & Tom Ramsey.