Local chefs cook up cash for March of Dimes - November 11, 2016

Courtesy of The Times of Northwest Indiana • November 11, 2016

By Damian Rico Damian.rico@nwi.com, (219) 933-3248

HOBART —Eric and Rachel Best know just how important the work of March of Dimes can be to babies as their three children combined spent more than 150 days in the NICU and they lost another at 35 weeks.

“Premature birth is something nobody should ever go through,” said Rachel Best. “At 35 weeks, we lost our baby Erin. It was devastating. We know our beautiful children wouldn’t be here without the help of the March of Dimes and hope and pray that additional research helps others like it has helped us.”

The March of Dimes Northwest Indiana hosted An Evening to Benefit Babies and Families at Avalon Manor in Hobart and raised $46,000 with a live auction, raffle and celebration of chefs.

“This night has been great and we are so thankful to all the chefs who volunteered their time to make this a very special evening,” said Lisa Carpenter, March of Dimes NWI executive director.

One of those chefs included Methodist Hospitals Gary-raised and Cordon Bleu-trained sous chef Pamela Ward. Ward began cooking with her mother, Maxine Staples, and was determined to learn how to cook her “amazing” Southern chicken.

“It’s an honor to participate in this event for such a great cause,” Ward said. “I love the kitchen and it’s about families and friends sharing a meal and company. I’ve learned so much over the years.”

Ward, also is the author of “Three Generations Cooking with Sole” and has been featured on The Food Network and cooked for the Jackson Family on a visit home to Gary.

This year’s event was sponsored by Certified Electricians, The Times Media Co., Methodist Hospitals and Community Healthcare System Community Hospital. It featured chefs Tammy Pham, Asparagus; Benito Gamba, Gamba’s; Brian Rance, Byway Brewing; Brent Bashier, Doc’s Smokehouse; Diego Burgos, Horseshoe Casino; Pamela Wark, Methodist; Harry Karahalios, Patrician; Jarrrod Storbeck, Stracks; Ugel Haro, Theo’s/Prime; Bayas Sed, Umi and John Erb, Majestic Star Casino; and celebrity chefs Jeff Strack, Josh Halpern and Spero Batistatos.