Super Bowl weekend means more than football for Rich LoRusso, owner/chef of LoRusso’s Cucina. It means Pasta. For the past seventeen years during Super Bowl week Rich has hosted The Pasta Bowl, the ultimate pasta contest for home cooks to entry their own family recipes to capture the Super Pasta Bowl crown.

“We’ve raised over sixty thousand dollars for Operation Food Search since we began,” said LoRusso explaining how the Pasta Bowl was inspired from a nearby sandwich shop where customers voted for their favorites. “ We expanded on the idea and invited people to send in their family pasta recipes, which we selected the finalists. One year Mario Batali even sent in a recipe.”

Besides the glory, gifts and kudos for the Pasta Bowl winning cook, their recipe is featured on LoRusso’s menu for a year. During that year each time it’s ordered two dollars is donated to Operation Food Search. Now that’s what I call a winner.

The 2017 Pasta Bowl recipes have been evaluated and three finalists have been selected and are ready for customer to decide this year’s winner on February 6.

“It's a lot of fun,” said LoRusso. “ You judge each pasta on five things: Is it unique? Does it make your month happy? Does it make your eyes happy? Would you make it at home? And should it be put on the menu for a year?

A fun night of pasta with a cause, includes your right to judge along with bruschetta, salad, the three pastas and Italian wine served throughout the evening. Cost is $65.

“When we started the Pasta Bowl back in 1998 we never imagined it would be so successful at bringing people together to have fun and to raise money for such a grand cause,” said LoRusso. “Thanks to the help of our customers this yearly event continues to raise money for Operation Food Search.”

Operation Food Search distributes more than 2 million pounds of food and necessities to 265 food pantries, soup kitchens, and homeless shelters in 31 counties of Missouri and Illinois.