Roasted duck, waffles, jambalaya and frosted pickles were just a few of the many dishes sampled by hungry guests Friday night.
Over 131 local school representatives and community members showcased their cooking skills at nearly 70 booths at the Bryan Expo Center for the ninth annual 50 Men Who Can Cook fundraiser benefiting the College Station Independent School District Education Foundation.
Teresa Benden, director of the Education Foundation, said the adult-only event featured a record number of attendees, cooking booths and donations from sponsors.
All funds raised at the event go toward College Station ISD teacher grants, student scholarships and the school district's learning website, Success 24/7, according to James Haverland, president of the Education Foundation Board.
"I think we've had a huge year," he said. "We've given out a record number of teacher grants and scholarships, and all of that is growing as this event grows."
Katina Osth, a fourth-grade dual language teacher at South Knoll Elementary School, has experienced first-hand how the donations raised at this annual event help in the classroom. Osth received a grant in 2014 to fund a Lego project designed to help girls and minorities in her class "think more like an engineer," she said.
By the end of the year, she said she saw a definite improvement with her students' spatial awareness and their ability to think outside the box.
"It was worth the work to put the grant together," she said. "It gives the kids something that is an extra experience that they don't get to have at home."
Courtney Wellmann, an English teacher at College Station High School, also received a grant sponsored by the Education Foundation for document cameras in the classroom. The tool allows her to display hard-copy documents on an electronic projector screen. She said a large portion of the grants go toward expensive technology items like the cameras.
"You are able to think outside the box about something you want to do but can't get the funding for through the budget," she said."You can be really creative and think a little wildly about different things. Having that support is awesome."
Guests at the cooking event were able to enjoy all-you-can-eat food samples from the booths and unlimited alcoholic beverages.
There was also a silent auction and a raffle drawing with big ticket items, including a guitar signed by Taylor Swift and diamond earrings valued at $5,000 from David Gardner's Jewelers.
Haverland, who has been in attendance for all nine 50 Men Who Can Cook fundraisers, said the event just keeps getting bigger each year.
"It's all word of mouth; we don't advertise," he said. "Once people come to it, they want to keep coming back."