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Whipping up breakfast for 500-plus folks
East Union High Kiwins Club member Cassidy Smith and Manteca Noon Kiwanis member Jack Cushman pose with a plate of pancakes and sausage in preparation for the groups annual Fourth of July Pancake Breakfast. The event takes place at Angelanos on Thursday, July 4, from 7 to 11 a.m. Tickets, which are available at the door, are $7 for adults and $4 for children 11 and under. - photo by JASON CAMPBELL


• WHAT: The Manteca Kiwanis Fourth of July pancake breakfast
• WHEN: Thursday from 7 to 11 a.m.
• WHERE: Angelano’s Restaurant, North Main Street, Manteca with option of dining inside or outside
• TICKETS: At the door
• COST: $7 for adults, $4 for children 11 and under

When the Manteca Noon Kiwanis asked Jack Cushman for his advice on making pancakes, he had nothing for them.

“I’m not a breakfast guy,” said the former owner of what was once Pietro’s Italian Restaurant,  which then became David and Sylvia’s Faming Dining and is now Angelano’s. “I don’t know anything about making pancakes.”

But more than 600 people needed to be fed and Cushman had the restaurant experience. And he wasn’t quite sure that the group’s method for preparing batter – using a 5-gallon bucket with a drill and a specially-crafted paddle – was the most efficient way to do things.

So he gave it a shot.

With a 60-quart mixer just sitting on his shelf, Cushman offered it up as an alternative to the crude, albeit inventive, way to prepare the thick and rich mix that would eventually be grilled into individual pancakes. Thrice the size of the buckets, the mixer did all of the work and turned an otherwise labor-intensive process into a simple one.

Thanks to a bum knee he can’t stand in the kitchen long enough to watch the pancakes – thousands of them – cooked over the course of his last eight years as a member and his decades as a host of the Manteca Noon Kiwanis’ annual Fourth of July pancake breakfast, Cushman made sure he could chip-in wherever he could.

The Bulletin found out just what goes in to making an event that at one time drew more than 1,000 people, and how to organize it:

What’s the most important thing to remember when you’re trying to feed so many people? Is the organization difficult?

“It’s not that the organization is difficult. You have to make sure that you have enough food, but not too much food. One year we overdid it on the hams and ended up giving away more than 150 pounds of it – that’s something that you don’t want to do. The hardest thing to pin down though are the juices. There are three of them to choose from and not everybody is going to take equal amounts of each one so you really have to guess.”

As the chairman of the event, how have you seen the event change and where do you want to see it go in the future?

“We’ve seen the number of people that come really drop off in the last two years or so. We used to have over 600 people every year, and now we’re having 450 people come – it’s something that you can notice. My goal for this year is to have 550 come down and have breakfast. It’s for a good cause, and it’s something that benefits the community.”

As a Kiwanis event, all of the money raised goes back to the club. Is it earmarked for anything in particular?

“It’ll go to support all of our other programs, particularly those that work closely with the children in the community. That’s something that’s always been really big with me. The children are our future, and anything that we can do to help them or provide for them we need to do. We have these kids – the Students of the Month – that come to our meetings, and they are just so sharp. It’s good to see younger people that have that kind of direction. That’s why we do the things that we do.”

This is the 50th time that the Kiwanis have hosted the event. Is it a streamlined machine at this point?

“As a fundraiser we get a lot of help from the wives of the guys in the group. I’ve got a bad knee so I can’t stand for very long, and there’s another guy that has a bad knee – so we kind of delegate out who does what in order to make it all work. Everybody chips in and does their share to make it work. Everybody has a part and they do a good job at it, and that’s why it’s a successful event. We want to keep it going like that.”