ATTLEBORO - More than 30 men in aprons, many of them local dignitaries, manned 35 food stations at the 26th annual Gourmet Guys fundraiser for New Hope, Inc. at the Elks Lodge on Friday night. More than 300 people dined in support for the cause of the area's victims of domestic and sexual violence.
From Swedish meatballs served by Rep. Joe Kennedy III to Literacy Center volunteers dishing out spicy macaroni and cheese, there was no shortage of variety to be loaded on to the dinner plates. Many people even went back for second helpings, although by that time, many of the selections, such as the baby back ribs and roasted root vegetables, were long gone.
Whether the male volunteers were professional chefs or not, the love of cooking and support for New Hope's cause bound them together.
"I want to give back to any charity I can help with," said Domenic Martelli of Brockton, who has been volunteering at the event for five years. Martelli, who "loves to cook," served chicken with ziti and broccoli.
Across from Martelli was Sensata Technologies employee John Ramsden of Providence, R.I., who served Moroccoan meatballs in a cucumber yogurt sauce.
"It's a really great cause, and you get to show off your talents to a lot of people that you normally wouldn't," said Ramsden.
It was the first year of participation for Attleboro Mayor Kevin Dumas, who served seafood stuffing and stuffed mushrooms.
"I loved it, and I thought it was a great way to interact with people," Dumas said. "It's a fantastic opportunity and I look forward to being able to do it next year."
New Hope executive director Marcia Szymanski smiled proudly on the turnout and the men who volunteered their time and culinary talents.
"For many of them, it's a labor of love, and they feel the mission is important," Szymanski said. "It really warms my heart so see so many men do something for this cause...it says to me, the community really feels this is important work. I couldn't be more thrilled."
The event is expected to raise $15,000.