Thank you for attending the 50 Men Who Cook: Iron Chef-Style Competition on August 8!

Save the date for the 17th annual 50 Men Who Cook on August 14, 2021.

50 Men Who Cook Digital Cookbook — now available for purchase!

Click here or use the button below to request your copy for a $15 donation.

Want to support CASA and try out the white truffle sauce featured in 50 Men Who Cook 2020? Or, looking for a new pasta sauce or honey? Visit and use the code “CASA20” for your order. Mario Rizzotti will donate the profits from your order to CASA!

50 Men Who Cook: Iron Chef-Style Competition Chef Results

Mario’s Choice – Amateur Chefs

1st place: Gavin Williams, Homemade Cheese Ravioli with Gavin’s Spicy Italian Sausage
2nd place: Eddie Valdez, Shrimp Remoulade
3rd place: Dylan Ingersoll, Buffalo Chicken Sliders

Mario’s Choice – Professional Chef

1st place: Rudy Galindo (Private Chef), White Truffle Linguine with Prosciutto Wrapped Scallops, Shrimp and Charred Tomatoes

People’s Choice Winners

Amateur Chef: Gavin Williams, Homemade Cheese Ravioli with Gavin’s Spicy Italian Sausage
Professional Chef: Stewart Stoffregen (Lodi Tap House), Lodi Troubled Truffle Smash Burger

50 Men Who Cook: Iron Chef-Style Competition Photos



What: CASA’s signature fundraising event, 50 Men Who Cook, is held annually in August at NIU’s Barsema Alumni and Visitors Center. Save the date for the 17th annual event on August 14, 2021! The evening includes a sampling of home-cooked favorites, cash bar, entertainment, and raffle prizes.

For photos from the 16th annual 50 Men Who Cook, click here.

When: August 14, 2021, 6-9 p.m.

Where: Barsema Alumni and Visitors Center on NIU’s campus

Who: 50 Men Who Cook is open to the public. Invite your friends and family along!

Why: To raise money to support CASA’s work of advocating for abused and neglected children in DeKalb County. Who Benefits?

How: Tickets available in June 2021!


 For questions or more information, email or call 815-895-2052.

Featured Chefs for 50 Men Who Cook 2020

Mario Rizzotti
Iron Chef America Judge and Italian Culinary Expert, Mario Rizzotti, grew up in Rome, Italy, where his mother and brother exposed him not only to the fine art of cooking, but also the art of experiencing food. Well-known as the approachable judge on The Food Network’s popular “Iron Chef America” show, Mario’s Italian culinary background combined with his familiarity with worldwide cuisines makes him a standout. Mario participated as the celebrity judge for CASA’s 50 Men Who Cook: Iron-Chef Style Competition on August 8, 2020.

Amateur Chefs:

Photo of participating chef
Craig and David Brannstrom
Craig and David have been invested in the 50 Men Who Cook competition for the last 12 years. Cooking in the competition has been always been a double sided coin that wins no matter which outcome occurs…Food has always been a way of life for the two of us. We spent our years growing with families that relished in spending time together and growing through the use of cooking food and sharing memories. This event is a great way for us to share that moment with others and help others through the same process.
Photo of participating chef
Eric Cobb
While this is my first time as a chef for 50 Men, I’ve been involved with CASA DeKalb since January of 2019. I’m excited to support CASA with this event because I know just how much passion everyone in the CASA family has for the children of DeKalb county. I’m thankful for the amazing difference the organization makes for these children.
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Shawn Garrett
Shawn Garrett (pictured right) and his wife reside in Charlotte, North Carolina. Shawn became involved with CASA when he clerked for the organization his third year of law school. This is Shawn’s second year cooking and his specialty is BBQ. He’s looking forward to bringing a bit of Southern flavor to a screen nearest you.
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Marc Hooks
This is my second year participating. I enjoy cooking for family and friends. I love that I have the opportunity to support CASA and the wonderful work they do. I can have fun and support a great organization!
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Dylan Ingersoll
I was introduced to CASA and all the great things they do by my girlfriend, Grace Villella, and her sister, Emma Warner. This is my second year participating in 50 Men Who Cook. I learned from an early age that if you like to eat, you better like to cook. Cooking is something that I like to do to relieve stress or just do for fun. My grandma first taught me how to cook when I was 5. After a few lessons, I would commandeer the kitchen and open up my “restaurant”. I would give my family menus and take their orders (with payment up front, of course).
Alex Nerad and Brandon Pugh
Alex Nerad is the Executive Director of the historic Egyptian Theatre in DeKalb, IL where he started in 2006. He is on the board of several local organizations. His professional popcorn popper career started in high school while working at a movie theatre in Iowa City, IA. Now going on 20 years popping popcorn, he still loves the smell of freshly popped theatre popcorn.
Brandon Pugh is the Event Services Director and Volunteer Coordinator at the historic Egyptian Theatre in DeKalb, IL. Brandon started as a DeKalb County Nonprofit Partnership Intern in 2015 and has grown within the organization. His apprenticeship to become a professional popcorn popper started in 2016. Brandon continues to strive to offer the best buttered and salted popcorn in the region.
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Brent Olson
Brent Olson is a retired construction worker and farmer who has been actively cooking for 20+ years! He has never met a potato he does not love and can be found grilling all year-round. He enjoys making interesting recipes his own and believes everything is better with bacon. Brent has participated in all but three 50 Men Who Cook events. He believes food is fellowship – there is nothing better than sitting at a communal table with family and friends eating simple but yet great food, drinking wine and enjoying life. Mangiare Bene! Eat Well!
Ted Rosenow and Mark Mathison
Ted is the President of Crum-Halsted Agency in Sycamore. He has been an active board member of CASA and has also served as board president. He has volunteered for 50 Men Who Cook since its inception and has cooked for three years. Mark is a lifetime resident of DeKalb and enjoys participating in community events. He enjoys spending time with his family, friends and being outdoors. He is passionate about many things, but one thing for sure is the only way to grill is with charcoal! Mark has attended past 50 Men Who Cook events and is excited to be a chef this year. And he would never want you to forget his favorite team – GO BEARS!
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Eddie Valdez
This is my first year cooking for this event. Upon learning about the service that CASA provides, I was driven to support the cause. I love New Orleans: the people, the culture, the music, and most importantly, the food. I’m very excited to bring a little of the Big Easy to all of the supporters of CASA.
Photo of participating chef
Mike Verbic and Mike Rothamer
Mike Verbic and Mike Rothamer became friends in 1982 while working at Eagle Foods on Sycamore Road. Both went on to work at NIU. Rothamer and his wife, Robin, made their careers there and retired.  They now travel extensively around the world.  Verbic continues his career at NIU and his wife, Jennifer, at D428. The Verbics have two grown children.  Michael is a student at NIU College of Law and Grace a junior at DePaul. Verbic was one of the original 50 Men Who Cook, with Rothamer joining soon thereafter, and has participated every year for this great cause.
Photo of participating chef
Gavin Williams
I have participated in 50 Men Who Cook for 6 years previously. I like cooking for this event because it is a lot of fun tasting all the food people prepare, talking to all the people that attend the event, and it supports a great cause.

Professional Chefs:

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Rudy Galindo
Private Chef
This will be my 14th or 15th year. I forget what year I started! 50 Men Who Cook is a great event and fundraiser!!
Sam Lake
Authentic Middle Eastern Cuisine, freshly prepared dishes, and friendly service, Jamrah Restaurant has become a favorite among the community. We pride ourselves in offering hand-crafted, delectable dishes using the freshest ingredients with a new twist. Jamrah was voted Business of the Year 2019 by Dekalb Chamber of Commerce and City of Dekalb.
Photo of participating chef
Stewart Stoffregen
Lodi Tap House
I’ve been participating in 50 Men Who Cook for the last 3 years. I really enjoy the friendly competition between all the restaurants and being able to help spread awareness of all the good CASA does for our community, while doing something I love, is a great feeling!

50 Men Who Cook 2020 Event Program

Thank you to our 2020 Corporate Sponsors!

First Midwest Bank logo
Shaw Media Logo

Anderson Funeral Home | Blumen Gardens | FNBO | Heartland Bank and Trust | Lehan Drugs | Resource Bank | Slingerland & Clark, P.C. | Turner & Sackett LLC

Donating Sponsors: Brian Scholle State Farm and Swedberg Electric

“It’s just such a worthy cause and it’s great to see the community come out and support it.” – 50 Men Chef