Warm hearts and full bellies

WARREN – Whether twirling noodles, soaking up sauce or lightly sprinkling Parmesan cheese, pasta lovers were in a veritable heaven Sunday afternoon as the 12th annual Pasta Cook-off and Wine Taste came off in style.

Hundreds of hungry people filed into Covelli Gymnasium at the Blessed Sacrament Parish for the event, featuring many local restaurants and amateur chefs facing off for the People’s Choice Award.

“It’s just a great community event,” said Paula Pierce, event organizer and member of the church. “We love opening our doors to folks from all over the Mahoning Valley so they can kick back and enjoy some good food and good company.”

About 300 people showed up, along with nine local restaurants and five amateur chefs who vied for best dish.

When all of the eating was over, and stomachs were filled, a distinguished panel of local celebrities determined the best professional pasta went to Warren’s Sunrise Inn.

Among the amateur chefs, Lucia Bright was chosen as the People’s Choice Award winner.

Entertainment was provided by the music of Take II.

“They brought some great, easy listening while people ate, and it was a lot of fun,” Pierce said.

The celebrity judging panel included Warren Mayor Doug Franklin, Tribune Chronicle community reporter Bob Coupland, WFMJ’s Mike Case, WKBN’s Rich Morgan, WYTV’s Stan Boney, Howland Administrator Darlene St. George, Howland police Chief Paul Monroe, John F. Kennedy Upper Campus Principal Staci Raab, Howland fire Chief Jim Pantalone, and judges Terry Ivanchak and Thomas Gysegem among others.

There were about 20 local winemakers present.

The money raised by selling tickets – $15 at the door and $12 in advance – benefited the American Heart Association Heart Walk.

“Over the years, we all lose loved ones or people that we know in the community to heart illness,” Pierce said. “We carry them with us when we do events like this, and that’s why it is an honor for us to put this together every year.”

Pierce estimates the event will raise about $5,000 for heart disease research.

Emmet Erb, 4, of Poland was on hand as a local beneficiary of heart disease research. Erb was only 3 months old when he underwent heart surgery. He was accompanied by his parents, Joy and Jason Erb; and his 2-year-old sister, Elinor.