Personality: Vanessa Myers Mason

Spotlight on co-chair of Sauté & Sizzle: Richmond Men Are Cooking

10/22/2016, 2:31 p.m.
With Thanksgiving and Christmas around the corner, recipes for holiday staples are passed between family chefs like love letters.

With Thanksgiving and Christmas around the corner, recipes for holiday staples are passed between family chefs like love letters.

Cooking skills are heavily scrutinized.

And this year, thanks to Vanessa D. Myers Mason of the Rho Eta Omega Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc., Richmond men are submitting their best recipes and putting their skills to the test just in time for the holidays.

Mrs. Myers Mason is co-chair, along with Tamara Johnson, of “Sauté & Sizzle: Richmond Men Are Cooking,” an annual scholarship and community outreach program that brings Richmond area men together to play chef for a day by cooking — and sharing — their favorite recipes.

Thirty area “chefs” are expected to converge at the Richmond International Raceway’s Old Dominion Building from 7:08 to 11:08 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 5, with their recipes, black bib aprons and white chef hats in hand, says Mrs. Myers Mason, a past president of the sorority’s Rho Eta Omega Chapter.

The “chefs” will prepare their signature dishes and guests will have the opportunity to taste each dish and vote on the winners.

The sorority hopes the event, now in its 10th year, will raise more than $14,000 for student scholarships and community outreach programs, says Mrs. Myers Mason, who works as a trainer at the Virginia Employment Commission.

A few of this year’s “chef” participants include general contractor Walter Johnson, Richmond Public Schools teacher Celvin Richardson, neurologist Dr. Stacey Epps and systems analyst Clifford Potter.

They and 26 other Richmond men will be serving dishes such as she crab soup, meatballs, pulled pork sliders, jerk chicken with pineapple and coconut rice, linguine with shrimp and white wine sauce and several others.

“Former [Rho Eta Omega] president Sadá Hill and Karen Hicks attended the Philly Men Are Cooking event” more than a decade ago and were so impressed, they presented the idea to chapter members as a fundraiser in 1996, Mrs. Myers Mason recalls.

The program has been their signature fundraiser every year since. This year’s event, which is emceed by comedian Micah “Bamm Bamm” White, will feature special highlights, including a silent auction, dance floor with Twin Towers Pro DJ and Sound and line dancing with Kemel Patton. All these events are in addition to the chef tasting.

Some of Mrs. Myers Mason’s most notable past winners of the chef tasting include Marcel Wilson’s “Grabbage” recipe of London broil and cabbage and Donnie Oliver’s white chicken chili.

Meet this week’s Personality Vanessa D. Myers Mason: Community involvement: Co-chair, Sauté & Sizzle: Richmond Men Are Cooking, fundraiser for Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority’s Rho Eta Omega Chapter, and chapter past president; member, Commonwealth Chapter of The Links Inc.

Date and place of birth: Nov. 8 in Wild, Wonderful West Virginia.

Current residence: Henrico County.

Alma maters: Bachelor’s of science, business education, Bluefield State College; master’s, business education, Marshall University; advanced studies, Virginia Commonwealth University

Family: James “Oliver” Mason, husband.

What dishes will be served: BBQ, she crab soup, meatballs, pulled pork sliders, jerk chicken with pineapple coconut rice, linguine with shrimp and white wine sauce, sweet potato pie, potato salad, ribs, just to name a few.

Portions: Each guest will have an opportunity to taste from 2-ounce serving cups.

Relevance of sororities and fraternities: Sororities and fraternities provide an opportunity for men and women to give back to the community unselfishly in a positive manner. Members are college-trained individuals who are often known for educating and empowering our communities. For example, Rho Eta Omega is and has been involved in the following community outreach programs: Awarded more than $50,000 in scholarships to students in Richmond and the surrounding counties; participated in and supported Go Red for Heart Month, Breast Cancer Walk, mentoring program for high school and middle school students, voter education and empowerment, Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service by providing meals, haircuts, toiletry supplies to the homeless, adoption of a family for a year. Along with other AKA chapters, we have sponsored a HBCU college fair for students, presented an Alzheimer’s disease forum, upgraded a Richmond Public Schools playground, and provided backpacks with supplies and snacks to students. These are just a few examples of how my chapter shows its relevance. But you can be assured that the other sororities and fraternities are hard at work doing the same in order to uplift our communities.

What drives me: The will to do what God would have me to do.

Three words that best describe me: Deliberate, caring and proactive.

How I find time for what I do: I “try” to organize and plan my day by prioritizing activities and duties that need to be accomplished. Most importantly, I pray that God will lead, guide and direct me to do His will and not mine.

Leadership is: Developing a vision for the common good, sharing that vision with others, motivating others to see the vision and getting their input in a shared vision, and lastly, working together to implement the vision.

When people meet me they think: I don’t know what they think. However, I hope they quickly find out that I can be objective and dedicated to a cause, am competent and purposeful and love to help others in need.

If I could wave a magic wand, I would: Ease all suffering and pain.

I knew I was grown up when I: Began working as a cashier at a local grocery store as a teenager in West Virginia. I found myself being the only African-American cashier after the first African-American cashier had been terminated. There was discontent in our community over the termination. I found myself having to encounter unkind words and actions from some customers. I learned quickly how to smile, not to take things that people say so seriously and treat people the way I would like to be treated.

Prized possession: My family and friends.

Perfect day: Knowing at the end of each day that I truly tried to make the most of the day by doing something that helped someone else.

Perfect evening: Spending quality time with my husband and best friend, Oliver.

Favorite meal: Lasagna.

What really turns me on: Positive people who long to make the lives of others better by empowering them through education and action.

Nobody knows that I: Have always wanted to sing the lead in a band. Any takers? (smiles)

Person who influenced me the most: My Dad, Deacon Lawrence Daniel Myers. It is a known fact that I was a “Daddy’s girl.” I could talk to him about anything.

Book that influenced me the most: “Deep is the Hunger” by Howard Thurman.

Best thing my parents ever taught me: “Vanessa D., you don’t always have to respond. Just smile.”

What I’m reading now: “Reposition Yourself: Living Life Without Limits” by T.D. Jakes.

My next goal: Comes from always loving to be around and absorb the wisdom of older adults. My Mom, Nannie L. Myers, 93, has lived with my husband and me for nine years and it is amazing to see, hear and experience her life. Therefore, I would like to create a sanctuary for the elders of our community who are often ignored and not honored. They have so much to give if we but allow them to do so.