Nine who dine
A splash of dining elegance could help children continue to splash in the community swimming pool. Minneota native Casey McCoy of Sioux Falls utilized his culinary talents recently to serve a four-course meal to nine local citizens who were the highest bidders in the Pool Pals’ fundraising effort to save the pool.
The local pool was in danger of having to close if it didn’t make the state-required resurfacing repairs to both the adult and kiddie pools by the summer of 2020.
But because the City of Minneota footed the bill for the kiddie pool’s resurfacing, the pool was allowed an additional year to rise approximately $200,000 for the adult pool’s resurfacing. Among the fundraisers hosted by Pool Pals was an Adult Prom last spring, which included McCoy’s offer to donate his time and money to buy, prepare and serve a four-course meal to the highest bidder. So a local group “pooled” their resources and reportedly bid around $500 for the meal. It took some time to arrange the meal due to various commitments from McCoy and those who bid on the meal.
“We finally found a date that worked for everyone,” said McCoy.
“It was so much fun. I really enjoyed doing this for these wonderful people.” McCoy initially went to a culinary school in New York City and eventually helped open 15 restaurants in the Midwest as a general manager or executive chef. But he eventually switched gears and is now an insurance representative that covers a large region.
“It was fun to cook again for a bunch of people,” he said. The nine people who enjoyed McCoy’s dishes were Brenda and Gene Verschelde, Gayle Van Vooren, Kathy and Wayne Wyffels, Mary Ann and Doug Sarazyn, and Marilyn and Alvin Smith. The meal was served at the Verschelde home. McCoy picked the theme “Harvest in Minnesota” for the meal. Some of McCoy’s dishes were prepared ahead of time at his home in Sioux Falls, while the others were cooked in the Verschelde kitchen.
The dishes were unlike any that the guests had ever had before.“I love helping others,” he said. “And the pool is such an important part of the community.”
“I couldn’t make any of these dishes and I love to cook,” said Van Vooren. “The food was amazing. All of the courses were so darn good.”
McCoy started his guests out with a refreshing non-alcoholic beverage in fancy wine goblets. “I took beets and cooked them down and put the liquid in a candied syrup,” McCoy said.
“Then I added some Sprite and lemon juice. I wanted a light, refreshing beverage to start things off to kind of clean the tastebuds and get ready for the courses.”
The guests were surprised when they learned what they were drinking and instead thought there was some type of wine in it, McCoy noted.
The first course was a Harvest Bruschetta in which McCoy toasted slices of French bread and topped it with a mixture of sweet potato cubes, Spam cubes, and maple syrup.
That mixture was topped with red cabbage and red onions, followed by a topping of Parmesan cheese and a poppy seed vinaigrette.
“Casey puts things together that I would never think of,” said Brenda Verschelde.
“But everything was just delicious. And he did such a good job telling us about each dish.”
Next up was a savory squash soup served in pint-sized Mason jars. In keeping with the Minnesota theme, McCoy placed General Mills caramel rice cakes on top of the soup.
McCoy’s own version of a tator tot hotdish was the third course.
“Nothing that I made will be found in a cookbook,” laughed McCoy.
“I just make it up as I go along. I am confident in my cooking ability to know what tastes good with what. And I didn’t want to get too crazy.”
The tator tot hotdish included an eight-ounce meatball with savory mushroom gravy poured on top, surrounded by a piping of seasoned mashed potatoes that were glazed in an egg wash and then baked.
The meat and potatoes were surrounded by fresh corn, peas, carrots and green beans. The final dish was a dessert of vanilla mousse with cinnamon and nutmeg-candied pecans inside white chocolate cups.
McCoy also included a wild rice pancake with candied beet syrup for good measure.
“We were so full when we were done,” laughed Van Vooren.
“We all wanted to lay our heads on the table and take a nap.” McCoy won all his guests over with his culinary abilities, even those that are somewhat hard to please when it comes to food.
“We had two people that are usually ‘picky’ eaters,” said Brenda Verschelde, McCoy’s aunt.
“But they both ate everything on their plate.”
McCoy wouldn’t reveal how much the food cost him, but he was more than happy to help a good cause.