Monkton chef using homegrown ingredients for Taste of Life benefit

Chef Jerry Edwards hasn't finalized the meal he'll prepare for the July 29 Taste for Life to benefit the American Cancer Society, but one thing is certain — many ingredients will come from his Monkton farm.

Edwards, who owns Chef's Expressions catering company in Timonium,can pluck ripe peaches from his tree, go fishing in a farm pond that is stocked with brown trout, pick blackberries or raspberries from his bushes, pick red oak lettuce or heirloom tomatoes in his garden, or grab some eggs from his chicken coop.

"I won't be choosing the meal until a week before, but it will be something very health-oriented," Edwards said recently while walking around the 225-acre farm he shares with his sister and brother-in-law, Jim and Cindy Franzoni.

Edwards, 52, has always believed in supporting good causes, but he participates in the Taste for Life for very personal reasons. His mother, Bobbie Edwards, of Bel Air, is a three-year survivor of breast cancer.

"I've always tried to give 25 percent of my efforts to philanthropy," he said. "I believe there are four pillars of success — creativity, passion, team work and philanthropy. Our whole team at Chef's Expressions is encouraged to give back."

Edwards is a spokesman for Meals on Wheels of Central Maryland and has held many fundraising dinners for that nonprofit. Edwards also holds monthly wine dinners at Gramercy Mansion in Stevenson where he cooks special meals to go with wine provided by Wine Express. The profits from wine sales go to charity.

A guest at those wine dinners is responsible for getting Edwards involved in Taste for Life.

"I lost my sister to breast cancer in February 2009, so I was looking for an American Cancer Society cause to get involved with," said Cecil Flamer, managing director at Brown Capital Management, who met Edwards five years ago at a wine dinner. "Jerry and his crew always do an excellent job, so I asked him if he'd be willing to be in the Taste for Life. He didn't even hesitate. He gave an instantaneous 'yes'."

Edwards will join three other chefs at the event. Diners go to each chef's station, taste the special dish, talk with the cook and sample wine chosen to complement that dish. Numerous other food stations will be available as well.

Edwards, who has been in business for 30 years and has 12 chefs at Chef's Expressions' catering, said he is still the one who creates the recipes.

"We are known for our Mediterranean style and I love to take a wine and make a dish to go with it," he said. "I look forward to coming up with a great, healthy meal for Taste for Life."

Taste for Life runs from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. at the Lyric Theater at 140 W. Mt. Royal Ave., Baltimore, on July 29. In addition to Edwards, chefs Galen Sampson, of Dogwoods, Bradley Willits, of B&O American Brasserie and Winston Blick of Clementine will participate.

Tickets are $90 and are available at or by calling 410-781-4316.

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