The sixth annual Grapes & Gourmet Guys drew 250 people to Roses Run Country Club in Stow on Tuesday evening.
Jean Geopfert chaired the benefit for the GriefCare Place. Guests sampled food prepared and served by celebrity chefs, danced to the Get Back Band and placed bids at the food-related silent auction while Janice Sims sold raffle tickets for a Wall of Wine.
Lou Ann Redmon, who founded the GriefCare Place in 1997, said it has served more than 10,000 people in 58 communities in Northeast Ohio, providing counseling and support for those surviving the death of a loved one. “But we couldn’t do it without our volunteers,” she said as she greeted guests.
Emcee Tom Stephan kept the event moving, assembling judges and chefs for photos. Judges included Stow Mayor Sara Drew, Joyce Lagios, Doris Stewart and two real-life judges, Linda Teodosio (Summit County Juvenile Court) and Lisa Coates (Stow Municipal Court).
Summit County Common Pleas Judge Tom Teodosio, assisted by Katherine Kneeland, served a creamy corn soup.
“I thought it would be a cool fall night,” he explained.
Kurt Reed assisted by Kate Carver offered vegetarian meatballs made with lentils, while the Rev. Carl Wallace served vegetarian chili, which Lynn Brown pronounced excellent.
Four handsome guys from Hitchcock Fleming & Associates — Kevin Kinsley, Matt McCallum, Keith Busch and Dale Elwell — combined beer, bacon and brats into Four Man Mac & Cheese. They were following in the footsteps of their leader, Jack DeLeo, who won the cooking contest for three years straight.
Steve and Nikki Hawk, Ed and Patt Combs, Stephanie Kinsley and Sharon Rouse were among the guests who stepped outside on the patio to enjoy the music of the jazz trio from the Hudson School of Music.
Stow Municipal Judge Kim Hoover said all of the vegetables on his Brochette with Tomato and Basil were grown by community service workers at the courthouse. Ron Antal got the idea for his Caramelized Bacon while he was out jogging. Ron Coleman and Austin Gilchrist of Olive My Heart offered a different type of sundae — ice cream topped with flavored balsamic vinegar. Dick D’Antonio served a French dessert, Sweet Clafoutis, and Tom Loepp was a hit with his Cream Cheese Flan.
Honorary Chair Riley Lochridge thanked everyone for supporting GriefCare Place, and introduced Joyce Swords, who gave a moving account of her grief journey following the death of her daughter, Angie.
Redmon presented Olympic- style medals to winners: Five-year-old Gavin Scott Davis won the All American Award; John Prebonic, the Marguerita Award; Ron Alexander, the Almighty Award; Larry Conti, the Sopranos Award; Jim Riter, Mike Jones and Craig Cline, People’s Choice; and Tom Teodosio, Judges’ Choice.