ORGANIZERS—The organizers are Jeanette Meacham, Theda Fuqua, Audrey Parker, Denise Johnson, Leo Halcomb, Cheryl Hurt, Greg Kelly and Jackie Moore. (Photos by J. L. Martello)
Clairton resident Leo Halcomb has been cooking since he was a little boy.
“I was raised in a restaurant that my mom and grandmother lived in Clairton on State Street,” Halcomb said.
LEO HALCOMB making the bombest ribs in Clariton, was the second place winner.
So when he was asked to participate in the Community Economic Development Corporation of Clairton’s first “Men Can Cook” fundraiser, it was a no-brainer for Halcomb who sells rib dinners from his home from time to time.
He cooked mouth-watering, fall-off the-bone ribs for the event, which was put together to raise money for the CEDCC and to bring awareness of the organization and the programs it has to help the residents of the city of Clairton to reach their full potential.
According to Resident Services Coordinator Jeanette Meacham, the CEDCC provides any social services that the community needs including resume building and budgeting all free of charge. The organization also has a housing development of 44 lease-to-purchase homes.
The resource center has been a part of the Clairton landscape since 1987 as part of the Mon Valley Initiative before branching off into its own independent entity. It moved into its current location, a 3,667 square-feet building located at the bottom of St. Clair Avenue where the former Schmitt Hotel once stood, in 2011.
“The CEDCC is a positive light in Clairton we are a quietly kept secret,” Meacham said.
Thanks to the “Men Can Cook” event, more people will be aware of the good things the CEDCC is doing for the city.
“The goal of the event was to raise money to be used for the up keep of the center and to give services to the community and provide scholarship money to the young people in Clairton,” said CEDCC volunteer, Jacqueline Wellington-Moore. “This is a unique way to motivate people and to get younger guys to get involved with cooking.”
Teaching Clairton’s younger generation about culinary arts is another reason Halcomb decided to throw his chef’s hat into the ring with five other local cooks.
“I know most of the boys in Clairton and I try to encourage them to do things in life,” said Halcomb who is affectionately known as “Uncle Leo” to the kids in Clairton. “There’s nothing wrong with a man that can cook. My mother taught me how to cook. I cook for enjoyment. Cooking is an art and I want the boys to learn that there are options in life. Cooking is always a good field because people have to eat to survive.”
The cooks were presented with certificates of appreciation for their participation.
“This gives the cooks a chance to show off their talents,” Wellington-Moore said. In addition to Halcomb’s ribs, five other chefs introduced attendees to Cajun shrimp, curry chicken, Gazpacho, a tropical hamburger and cookies.
The event also included a fashion show by Clairton’s own Malcolm Williams of Willie G’s fashions, face painting, a DJ, dancing and vendors. Special recognition was given to Clairton Bears Football graduating seniors and Coach Tom Nola and football boosters’ Paulette Bradford.
“They are outstanding in the community,” Wellington-Moore said. “And we wanted to make the event more appeasable to everyone of all ages.”
The CEDCC holds monthly meetings the first Thursday of each month at 6 p.m. at its newly built location, 282 St. Clair Avenue.
Meacham said the meetings are brainstorming sessions to come up with programming for the community.
(Anyone interested in attending these meetings are encourage to call the CEDCC at 412-226-1587 or visit http://www.clairtoncedecc.com.)
ENGLISH “TOMMY” WEB, first place winner, showing off his tropical burger, Collie Radline.
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