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Cooking Up Charity at "Gridiron Chef"

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 Gerald Hayes allows "Chairman" Ron Wolfley to sample his cooking wares during Friday night's "Gridiron Chef" charity dinner.

Perhaps Cardinals backup offensive lineman Elton Brown can double as a prognosticator.

Prior to Friday night's Cardinals Charities dinner – dubbed "Gridiron Chef" and set up as a cooking competition between three pairs of players – Brown was asked who he thought would "win."

"I'd give it to Bert," Brown said, referencing defensive end Bertrand Berry (who teamed with kicker Neil Rackers). "Bert is like, 50, so he's been around a long time, he has probably had to cook a lot of stuff so he has the most wisdom."

When the cooking was over, Berry and Rackers had indeed "won." And Cardinals Charities had raised thousands of dollars for its mission, which is to help to improve the quality of life and enhance opportunities for children, women and minorities in the state of Arizona. Each team competed for a certain charity, so Berry and Rackers earned $10,000

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Bertrand Berry (center) and Neil Rackers (right) were the winners of the cooking competition during Friday night's "Gridiron Chef." 

for Arizona Friends of Foster Children Foundation.

The event was a takeoff on the popular TV show "Iron Chef," in an effort to spice up the annual dinner at University of Phoenix Stadium.

"A lot of charity dinners have become stale in their format," Cardinals president Michael Bidwill said. "We wanted to do something different and exciting and that was engaging for our fans and the supporters of Cardinal Charities and also for the players and coaches as well."

Besides Berry and Rackers, the other teams were defensive tackle Darnell Dockett and linebacker Gerald Hayes, along with receiver Larry Fitzgerald and running back Marcel Shipp.

Using a secret ingredient of goat cheese – which was unveiled by "chairman" Ron Wolfley prior to the competition – the teams each were helped by a professional chef

Wolfley, the former Cardinal and current broadcaster who has an admitted affinity for food, was the logical choice to host such a battle.

"It is amazing," Wolfley said. "Ever since I have put on the pounds and my cheeks have gotten full, I have always wanted to host something like the Gridiron Chef. I think it only natural, although I will say, after this, I have a New Year's resolution: I am trying to get my cheeks to where they once were.

"I basically got to act like a total nutjob, which is pretty conducive to a guy who has had 23 concussions."

The players who weren't clashing at the stove took the opportunity to compete in another area when it came to their fashion.

"It's fun to come out here and hang out and meet some fun, new people and have the chance to show off our styles a little bit," said cornerback Eric Green, sporting a custom suit and a pair of Prada sunglasses.

As for the winners, Berry had been talking big all along that he and Rackers would likely finish first.

He, like Elton Brown, turned out to be right.

"We were the only salt and pepper team," Berry quipped, "so that was an advantage right there."


Contact Darren Urban at askdarren@cardinals.nfl.net. Posted 11/10/07

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