Ray Arpke, Jamie Gregorich, Tommy Klauber.
Mike Alstott, Hal McRae, Hanley Ramirez.
What do they have in common?
They’re established names in their fields -- the first three in the culinary arts, the latter trio in professional sports -- and on Friday night, they’ll be on hand at respective fundraisers to benefit Manatee County youth.
Arpke, Gregorich, Klauber are celebrity chefs who will be judges at the third annual “Chowdown for Charity” at the Riverhouse Reef and Grill Restaurant in Palmetto.
Alstott, the Bucs’ famed “A-Train” fullback; McRae, the former major league player and manager; and Ramirez, the Florida Marlins shortstop, are among the scheduled guests at Champs Sports ninth annual Sports Night to support the 13th Av Dream Center.
The Chowdown for Charity is put on by the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association, and all proceeds will be used to aid culinary arts students in Manatee County’s public schools.
Culinary arts students from Manatee Technical Institute, Manatee High and Southeast High will vie in a competition judged by Arpke, chef/proprietor of Euphemia Haye; and Klauber, restaurateur, chef and owner of Pattigeorge’s on Longboat Key and the Polo Grill in Lakewood Ranch.
In addition, area restaurants including Peach’s, Gio’s, Riverside Cafe, SoMa Diner, Polo Grill, ezra cafe, Anna Maria Oyster Bar, Beachhouse, Woody’s River Roo, Bridge Street Bistro, Riverhouse Reef & Grill and Cakes by Ron will provide tasty samples.
They’ll be judged by Gregorich, a contestant on FOX TV’s “Hell’s Kitchen”, sous chef at Euphemia Haye on Longboat Key and an MTI instructor, along with state Sen. Mike Bennett, Bradenton Mayor Wayne Poston and Bay News 9’s Summer Smith.
At Sports Night, Alstott, McRae and Ramirez will join Otis Birdsong, Tim Hardaway, Andrew McCutchen and Shelton Quarles among others scheduled to appear for an evening of interaction and dining while contributing to the future of some of our community’s most needy children.
The event is semi-casual and attendees are invited to wear their favorite team’s jerseys. Guests can mingle among athletes and bid on a bevy of silent and live auction items, including luxurious getaway packages.
The 13th Av Dream Center’s character-building programs and activities give local children the opportunity to find healthy solutions to the challenges facing them, including poverty, drugs, crime, teen pregnancy and low self-esteem.
The center has been building dreams and changing lives of our area’s most underprivileged children for more than 70 years.
Vin Mannix, local columnist, can be reached at 745-7055.