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Mar 09, 2020

Area Restaurants Fundraise for Girl Scouts with TopCookie Dessert Competition

Eileen Higgins, Tim McLoone and Steve Bidgood present the TopCookie Award to Dana and James Costello of Ohana Grill.

A cold, chilly rain couldn’t stop more than 200 people from heading to the Asbury Lanes on Feb. 6, and with Girl Scout cookies as the reward, it’s hard to blame them. The crowd raised more than $20,000 to support the Girl Scouts of the Jersey Shore at the Girl Scouts TopCookie Dessert Competition. The benefit was part of Girl Scouts of the Jersey Shore’s kickoff for the 2020 Girl Scout Cookie season, and proceeds will fund leadership experiences for local girls.

Chef David Burke (center) congratulates students from the Ocean County Center for Culinary Arts Training

Five area restaurants – McLoone’s Restaurants, Nicholas Creamery, Talula’s, Cuisine on the Green at Atlantis (where students from Ocean County Center for Culinary Arts train) and Ohana Grill – took on the challenge of creating delicious desserts using a different Girl Scout Cookie including Do-Si-Dos, Tagalongs, Samoas, S’mores, Trefoils, Thin Mints and the newest cookie, Lemon-Ups. As if the night couldn’t get sweeter, there was a palette-puckering Lemon-Up bonus dessert presented by judge, celebrity chef and Top Chef Master David Burke.

The other judges included Patty Caneda, owner of Caneda’s White Rooster; Jeremy Grunin, of the Jay and Linda Grunin Foundation; Tom Hayes, of New Jersey Natural Gas; Carol Stillwell, chief executive officer of Stillwell-Hansen, Inc.; Steve Bidgood, owner of Salt Creek Grille; and Tim McLoone of McLoone’s Restaurants served as the evening’s entertaining emcees. There was also a people’s choice ballot and hot coffee to go with the delights.

Eileen M. Higgins, chief executive officer of Girl Scouts of the Jersey Shore, who celebrated her birthday at the event, thanked everyone for their generosity.

“We truly appreciate the way the restaurant community came together to help make a difference for girls and to everyone who made this inaugural event one to remember,” she said. “Girl Scouts get their first taste of entrepreneurship from the Girl Scout Cookie Program.

“A box of Girl Scout Cookies isn’t just delicious; it opens up opportunities for girls to develop essential business and life skills,” Higgins added, noting that in 2019, the local Girl Scout council sold more than 1 million boxes of cookies.

The top cookie creation award went to a cheesecake and pistachio creation made with Samoa cookies by Ohana Grill owners Dana and James Costello.

Voted No. 1 by the public was a creamy tiramisu dessert with bites of Tagalong cookies whipped up by McLoone’s pastry chef JoAnne Macalik.

Girl Scout Cookies are available for sale at booths now through Saturday, April 11. To locate a cookie booth, visit