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Open Arms’ Cook-a-Thon was A’peeling

Executive Director Leah Hebert and Open Arm’s chef cut the carrot to announce the grand opening of its annual event.

TEAMS had names like Go Fig or Go Home and Bok Choy Chop Joy and Surly Gives a Damn who cooked and packed 11,000 meals in 24 hours, all while raising more than $135,000 for Open Arms’ clients living with a life-threatening disease. 

Open Arms’ Cook-a-Thon is an annual event that enables the nonprofit to get a week’s worth of meals in the freezer, as we enter the holiday, as well as bad-weather, season. To keep things interesting for the volunteers, staff had games and witty repartee and snacks. And as in every event at Open Arms over the two years Foodservice News has been on board with the Charlies, they executed flawlessly, ushering in new groups every two hours, trained, hair-netted and hands washed and gloved. Open Arms, in case you didn’t know, is the official charity of choice for the Charlies. 

Abbi Nawrocki, event planner for the Charlies, volunteered, along with her children, Ellie and Charlie (dressed as a banana) for a two-hour shift with the Charlie Awards’ team, Charlie’s Angels. 

The Charlies/Foodservice News team  consisted of Attorney and Charlies Sponsor Dennis Monroe of Monroe Moxness Berg; Sponsorship Director Bob Warner and his wife Mary, Charlies Event Planner Abbi Nawrocki and her children, Charlie, 8, and Ellie, 11, and myself. (It’s purely a coincidence that Abbi’s son is named after the Charlie Awards.)

We started out with the plum assignment: Placing muffins in plastic bags and then sealing them with a label. After a break, we were reassigned to cookie bagging duty. Ellie and Charlie gazed longingly at the turkey station, where volunteers were using their gloved hands to pull turkey meat off the carcasses. Another station had knives. We had cookies—and kind people like Executive Director Leah Hebert, who “accidentally” broke a few cookies so the kids could eat them. I was touched that as we sat waiting to be debriefed that Charlie reached in his pocket and pulled out a cookie for Dennis and me to share. (Dennis was in the other room and never saw Charlie’s generosity nor the cookie.)

Proceeds from the Charlie Awards, January 27, go to help Open Arms’ work. We hope you’ll all be sitting in the audience cheering on your peers at the Pantages Theater, starting at 3:30 p.m. and continuing at Seven Steakhouse, next door, for the afterparty. 

And yes, there will be cookies at the afterparty, and I’ll share. 

Charlies host

The Charlie Awards is welcoming back the all-star food-reporting team of Jason DeRusha and Joy Summers as hosts of the 2019 Charlie Awards, Sunday, January 27, at the Pantages Theater in Minneapolis. They were last seen on the Charlies stage for the sixth annual event in 2016. In addition to a number of separate reporting gigs, Jason and Joy work together as food critics for Minnesota Monthly magazine. A busy man about town, Jason is the anchor and food reporter for WCCO-TV, as well as anchoring its morning show, and serving as a host on WCCO radio. Joy, currently editor of Eater Twin Cities, is a former blogger at Heavy Table and City Pages. In her bio for Eater, Joy claims she learned to cook with bacon grease and to braise road-kill pheasant in heavy cream. 

Buy your tickets to the show at charliesexceptionale.com. This is going to be fun! 

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