Stephen Mitro’s hamburger soup was a dish born of necessity.
“I have three kids — 14, 15 and 16 — and it was a way of stretching things out,” Mitro said.
But they also love it. Even if they say they’re not hungry, if he tells them that hamburger soup is for dinner, suddenly their appetites return.
Cooking, said Mitro, is his passion, but by day he works as a family advocate for YWCA’s Aid to Victims of Violence.
Friday night, he got to combine the two roles, as he served up his soup at the second annual “Chefs Take a Stand: Men Against Domestic Violence” event at the YWCA at 14 Clayton Ave.
This year brought in at least 125 people, said Mary Coffey, director of events for the YWCA, who came up with the idea two years ago.
Last year’s event sold out, packing the room with 150 people.
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The event featured 27 local male cooks who prepared and served their own signature dishes, ranging from smoked pepperoni saturated in bacon drippings to eggplant Parmesan.
The smoked pepperoni was the brainchild of John Gaynor, who happened to be smoking both pepperoni and bacon one day, only to wonder what would happen if he put the pepperoni beneath the bacon and let it absorb all the bacon drippings.
“I thought, Why not?” Gaynor said.
The result was a delicious cardiologist-disapproved treat served on a Ritz cracker. The eggplant Parmesan came courtesy of Cortland Police Chief F. Michael Catalano, who said he learned the recipe from an old
woman in Italy.
Mayor Brian Tobin’s red, white, and blue macaroni and cheese (red: hot sauce, blue: blue cheese and white: sharp cheese) was gobbled up halfway through the event, and village of Homer Mayor Hal McCabe’s crawfish Monica, made with crawfish that McCabe had flown up from Louisiana, almost got him the coveted purple apron, which was bestowed on the chef who received the most votes from the night’s ticketholders.
First: Beanie Koegler, executive chef at Kendal at Ithaca, for smoked duck crostini.
Second: Ty Marshal, executive director of Center for the Arts of Homer, for his reuben eggrolls. Last year, Marshal came in third for warm cheese dip and crackers.
Third: Hal McCabe, for crawfish Monica. McCabe said he had the crawfish flown in from Louisiana.
The event raised money for the YWCA’s Aid to Victims of Violence, which helps victims of domestic abuse, rape, child abuse and child sexual abuse, is the only such center in Cortland County.
The program offers a safe house, temporary housing, crisis intervention, counseling, support groups, educational programs and accompaniment to police station, court and hospital.