Pastalaya cook-off fundraiser set for Saturday

Proceeds to benefit families of local women

There will be plenty of great food, company and competition at West Bank Bridge Park Saturday — and all of it for a great cause.

The Cooking for a Cause pastalaya cook-off kicks off at 11 a.m. Saturday as a collection of teams tackle the challenge of settling who can put together the tastiest dish. The public attending the event will vote and prizes will be awarded to teams who place.

Proceeds will benefit the families of Ann Martinez, who is battling breast cancer, and Rebecca Tassara, who passed away Tuesday morning after her own battle with the illness.

In April of this year, Martinez, 31, was diagnosed with invasive ductal adenocarcinoma, an aggressive, rare form of breast cancer. The Luling resident is a wife and mother to young two children.

Tassara, who was a Hahnville resident, is survived by her husband and four children. She was 38 years old.

“We wanted to do something and get the community involved, raise some money to help. This is what we came up with,” said Claude Adams, co-founder of Dat Dads’ Club, which is hosting the event.

The event was originally scheduled at Monsanto Park but was moved for weather concerns.

Dat Dads’ Club is a non-profit group of Willowdale and Mimosa residents who came together with a shared vision of helping others. This is the third fundraiser the group has hosted.

The money raised will go toward offsetting expenses for the Martinez and Tassara families.

“Even when you have insurance, there are the co-pays, the medical bills that aren’t covered, medicine, flights to M.D. Anderson in Houston for treatment … there are so many expenses beyond what insurance will help with,” Adams said.

Adams said a moment of silence will be held in Tassara’s memory.

“We’re devastated to hear of the passing of Rebecca Tassara,” Adams said. “We pray for her husband Mike and her family and will continue on with the fundraiser … we will be donating all money collected to the Martinez and Tassara families and continue to thank the community for their support.”

Adams said last week that 25 teams had signed up, and he anticipated more would follow this week leading up to the event. He said he hopes to see the number bumped up to 35 or 40 teams.

“But at least 25 teams will be there, cooking a minimum of 10 gallons each,” Adams said. “So when people come in and pay their 10 bucks, they can eat as much as they want.”

Attendees will eat much —and eat well.

“One thing you know … any time you see fat guys in camouflage cooking in cast iron pots, you know it’s gonna be good,” Adams joked. “That’s what we’re counting on.”

There will be a DJ on site for what Adams said is aimed as a very family-friendly event.

“It won’t be crazy loud, no live bands. It’ll be rather low key,” he said.

Adams said there will be a daiquiri booth, donated by a sponsor, and beer available. For children, there will be free face painting and Adams said plans are to have a spacewalk as well.

There will also be a dunking booth, with the “guests of honor” including athletics coaches from Destrehan and Hahnville High Schools who have volunteered to take the plunge — provided some accurate hurlers show up.

Cost to attend is $10 to taste the pastalaya dishes for adults. Admission is free for children age six and under.

Adams said this cook-off event is set to be Dat Dads’ second yearly fundraiser, along with its fishing rodeo in spring.

All proceeds will go to the event’s beneficiaries.

Dat Dads’ Club pays for its fundraiser events via membership fees, which accounts for event expenses.

“Nobody’s getting paid. 100 percent of what we raise goes to the people we’re helping,” Adams said. “That’s what people want to know when they’re donating money … that it’s going directly to the cause.”

NOTE: The print version of this story in this week’s issue of Herald Guide went to press before it could be adjusted to reflect the passing of Rebecca Tassara.

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