WEST ORANGE, NJ -- Amateur chefs will cook to impress in the “PastaPalooza” Cooking Contest scheduled for May 14 at the OAK Barrel Pub, 440 Main St. at 2 p.m.

The event is a fundraiser for Essex County chapter of Special Olympics New Jersey. 

Bill Kehoe, partner at Oak Barrel and Director of the West Orange Recreation Department, says this fundraiser is a natural extension of work he and his department already do for FOOTSTEPS for the Exceptional Child. 

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"I have a personal connection to children with special needs, and we thought running a fundraiser for Special Olympics was a good way to support the cause," he said. 

Kehoe says last year's fundraiser was a chili cook-off that went well, and he anticipates doing some kind of food fundraiser each year. "This year's event has the potential to be even better. Who doesn’t like pasta?"

A wide variety of pasta dishes will be served buffet style to those in attendance.  Each person will then cast a vote for their favorite dish.  Prizes will be awarded to the winners.  A $15. donation is suggested at the door and checks should be made payable to Essex County Special Olympics.

Chef “wanna be’s” wishing to participate can register in person at the OAK Barrel or download the form from the OAK’s website – www.theoakbarrelpub.com . You must pre-register by May 9. Pre-registration is required and there is no cost to enter.  Entries are limited and will be on a first come/first serve basis.

These funds will be used to provide financial support to Essex County athletes as they compete in various Special Olympic events in New Jersey.  The Essex County Special Olympics Director Frank Petrucci is looking forward to the event. 

“This should be a lot of fun for a great cause,” said Petrucci.  “Without the support of events like this at the OAK many of our families simply couldn’t afford to participate.”