Monday, July 14, 2003

Retiree finds niche in kitchen

Planning, cooking church meals satisfies his appetite for helping

By Janet Wetzel
Enquirer contributor

Joe Minor poses with a pie he baked in his Monroe home Wednesday.
(Michael Snyder photo)
| ZOOM |
As a high school senior, Joe Minor excelled in a new class called home science, leading to predictions he'd wind up as a chef in some fancy New York restaurant.

But after he graduated in 1951, Minor didn't lift a spatula for a decade. His thoughts turned to the military and a career in banking.

In the early 1960s, however, he tied on an apron and began cooking for special events held by The Order of the Eastern Star.

Then about 20 years ago, after helping design a new kitchen for his church, Christ United Methodist Church, Middletown, Minor volunteered to help cook a huge meal for a church bazaar. The event was a whopping success.

Since then, the Trenton resident and retired assistant vice president and manager of the Trenton branch of First Financial Bank has directed many church fund-raisers.

"There were always women working in the church kitchens, but after that first meal we cooked, the men took over the kitchen for several years," Minor recalled. "Now we all work together."

Minor, 70, spends days planning the menu and shopping. He's known for his special barbecue sandwiches, turkey dinners, and an unusual coconut pie - a custard base which makes its own crust as it bakes.

Minor is in charge of five to seven meals cooked each year at the church, each typically serving more than 150 people. The amounts of food involved can be daunting.

A recent lunch required 50 pounds of barbecue and five gallons of chicken noodle and vegetable soup. A dinner involved a dozen 20-pound turkeys and 50 pounds of mashed potatoes.

Minor stressed that the events require many willing hands. Some church members help with set-up work. Some donate desserts.

"I couldn't do all of this myself, and I'm fortunate enough to have some wonderful people who help," said Minor.

The helpers include his wife, Marilyn, Dave and Barb Martin, Virginia Stoops, Don and Nancy DeSerisy, Bob Eisele and Margaret Henderson.

Nancy DeSerisy said she's worked in many kitchens with many people, but Minor is unusually good.

"He's a great cook. He makes almost everything from scratch, even salad dressings," DeSerisy said. "He's wonderful to work with."


Do you know a Hometown Hero - someone in your community dedicated to making it a better place to live and helping others? E-mail Janet Wetzel at, or fax to 513-755-4150.

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