Paradise Cook-Off showcases The Boys & Girls Club’s resiliency


Alex Beehner announces the rest of the festivities for the event. He thanked those who took the time to come out and help with this fundraiser. Photo credit: Melissa Herrera

The Boys & Girls Club held a Paradise Cook-Off on Saturday at the Chico Nettleton Gym to help raise funds for Paradise and Magalia youth affected by the Camp Fire.

The Paradise Cook-Off Location
Nettleton Gym is where the entire event was held. Many locals sat inside and enjoyed food and festivities the entire time. Photo credit: Melissa Herrera

Tickets were $15 for one and $50 for a family of four. Funds raised will provide scholarships for camps, field trips, summer learning programs and more. Chico State students from CAVE had a helping hand in setting up the event along with The Boys & Girls Club members and staff.

Volunteers set up booths
Locals volunteer to serve the community multiple dishes. Each booth had several different dishes and many dressed up for the occasion. Photo credit: Melissa Herrera

“We have 16 different chefs, amateur and professional, all competing for our golden spoon award,” said Alex Beehner, special events and marketing coordinator of The Boys & Girls Club in Chico.

Packing food on plates
Many people in line got mountains of food as they went to each booth. There were so many different food options to choose from. Photo credit: Melissa Herrera

Beehner had been planning the event for four months. He works for The Boys and Girls Club in Butte and Glenn Counties, serving about 2,000 kids a year.

The cook-off is normally held in Paradise, but due to the Camp Fire, Chico’s teen center was the site of this year’s cook-off.

“Prior to the Camp Fire, Paradise was our biggest site and we served almost 600 kids a day,” Beehner said. “We lost all of our clubs except for one and we can’t even use that anymore due to the smoke damage.”

Beehner thanks those who came out to help
Alex Beehner announces the rest of the festivities for the event. He thanked those who took the time to come out and help with this fundraiser. Photo credit: Melissa Herrera

Although the Camp Fire took a large toll on The Boys & Girls Club and its members, the club was able to rally to help in a time of crisis and long after, making sure kids are able to get the resources they need. On the day of the cook-off there were almost 50 volunteers working to help organize and run the event.

“Since the Camp Fire, we’ve actually readjusted our club and opened one up in Oroville and Durham inside school cites, in their gyms, which has allowed us to serve those kids that need us the most,” Beehner said. “We actually served about 500 to 600 of those kids immediately the week after the Camp Fire.”

Since the Chico Boys & Girls Club was physically unaffected by the Camp Fire, the club was able to step up and help many displaced kids and members.

“Our response to the Camp Fire was actually opening up our clubs all day long,” Beehner said. “So while the schools were shut down, we recognized the importance of taking care of the kids. So we went from having a four-hour-day to an eight-hour-day and serving three meals.”

This has definitely been the most trying year for The Boys & Girls Club, but there have been some donors like Vic and Sandra Mccaw that have made it a lot easier on the families attending the cook-off.

“Normally we rely heavily on ticket sales, but this year we’ve given out about 200 tickets, just to people who wanted to come out and enjoy a day here at the club,” Beehner said.

Whole squad eats.jpg
Paradise and Chico communities come together to eat a good meal and raise money for The Boys and Girls Club Photo credit: Gordy Papalias

The Paradise Cook-Off is just another example of the resiliency of Paradise and the willingness of the surrounding communities to help out in a time of need.

Gordon Papalias can be reached at [email protected] or @GordonPapalias on Twitter.