Kudo’s Galore

On Wednesday, March 20, our chapter participated in a fundraiser for the McCormick Boys & Girls Club and our organic garden and food education community service program there. The venue, Worlds of Whirlpool, with its gorgeous facility and series of beautiful kitchens, featured seven food stations serving amazing savory and sweet treats prepared and donated by Dames. Jean True coordinated our participation with the support of our Board of Directors.

Guests raved about the wonderful food that was complemented by bars serving wines, beers and delicious Blood Orange Mimosas. Kudos go to Dames Breanna Beike, Lee Calihan, Maria Josefa Concannon, Donna Hesik, Anne Kauffmann, Norma Maloney,  Julie Ratowitz  and Debbie Sharpe,  for their donations of food and participation in this unique fundraising event.

Debbie Sharpe: Wild Mushroom Truffle Risotto Bites
Lee Calihan: Petite Purple Potatoes with Beet-Cured Salmon and Dill Creme Faiche
Breanna Beike: Bacon & Aged Cheddar Dumplings w/Black Truffle BBQ served by Julie Ratowitz
Maria Concannon & Jake: Guacamole and Civeche on Tortilla Chips
The Entertaining Company: Smoked Chicken Medallions with Roasted Pumpkin Goat Cheese Souffle with Berry Port
Anne Kauffmann: Nougat Mousse Cake, Passion Fruit Souffle Cake, Chocolate Raspberry Truffle Cake
Donna Hesik: Lemon bars and Macarons

About 20 large screens throughout the facility and at each food station showed hundreds of photos of the garden and kids cooking classes highlighting Les Dames wonderful work at the Club to the 200 guests.

The silent auction included two lots generously donated by Chef Dame Breanna Beike – a four course dinner for eight with matched wines (to be prepared by Chefs Breanna Beike and Jean True at the home of Mary Abbott Hess), and a weekend at the James Hotel with dinner for two at David Burke’s Primehouse. The dinner for eight was so popular that it was sold twice! The entire proceeds from these auction lots plus part of the proceeds from the fundraising event will benefit the Green Tables program. We expect that this event raised about $7000., to fund the Green Tables program at the McCormick Club for 2013.

Early Thanksgiving at McCormick Boys & Girls Club

The Chicago Dames provided a wonderful dessert buffet for the kids, staff and major volunteers at the McCormick Club  on November 13th as the finale of the Club’s Thanksgiving Dinner. Our Thanksgiving Angels were Debbie Sharpe, Rita Gutekanst, Diana Moles, Julie Ratowitz, Jean True and Chandra Ram.  It was a very special evening and these Dames made our Chapter shine and the kids very, very happy!

Chicago Youth Whip Up More Nutritious Junk Food

Students cook in culinary kitchens for Science Club’s year-end event

Reprinted from Northwestern University Newscenter Bulletin

EVANSTON, Ill. — Teams of unlikely chefs bustled about the immaculate kitchens of the Institute of Culinary Arts at Robert Morris University Monday. With recipes in hand, they fiercely chopped, grilled and tossed various ingredients as a panel of culinary professionals from the Chicago area looked on.
The event wasn’t an episode of “Top Chef” but a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for 36 Chicago middle school students from Northwestern University’s Science Club. Having learned about the science of food, the students took on the challenge of preparing more nutritious versions of favorite junk foods, including hamburgers, soda, ice cream, snacks and pancakes.
The 15 teams’ creations were evaluated on taste, nutrition and overall preparation, and each team delivered an oral presentation. The cooking event was followed by a meal and an awards ceremony, in which all teams received high praise for their efforts.
A trip to downtown Chicago to cook in professional kitchens may not seem like a typical afterschool activity. But Science Club isn’t a typical afterschool program. A partnership between Northwestern and the Robert R. McCormick Boys & Girls Club of Chicago, the program serves 60 youth from more than a dozen Chicago public schools. The students gather weekly from September through June to design and conduct experiments, learn about scientific principles and test hypotheses under the careful mentorship of Northwestern science staff and graduate students.
Michael Kennedy, director of Science in Society, Northwestern’s office for science outreach and public engagement, founded Science Club in 2008. Recognizing the impact that mentorship and public school teachers had on his own scientific career, he designed the program to bring the same approach to inner-city youth in Chicago.
“We know that elementary and middle school years are critical periods for scientific learning and career aspirations,” Kennedy said. “And we know that mentorship and tailored instruction are powerful education tools. Science Club brings these ideas together in a fun, engaging way.”
Science Club is supported by a $1.4 million five-year grant from the National Institutes of Health. The students and mentors work at the McCormick Club in Uptown in an authentic laboratory, which Kennedy built using cabinetry discarded from Northwestern research labs.
For Science Club members, the Monday night finale was serious business. With their mentors by their sides, the middle school students demonstrated the culinary and nutritional skills they’d recently honed.
Mary Abbott Hess, a nationally recognized expert in food and nutrition communications, helped develop the curriculum for the Science of Food unit and secured Robert Morris’ facilities for the finale. She also served as a judge.
Continue reading “Chicago Youth Whip Up More Nutritious Junk Food”

Going Green for Red, White and Blue

Judith Dunbar Hines
Chicago Sun Times
July 1, 2012

Fourth of July celebrations are always colorful. Foods and decorations in the red-white-and-blue colors of the flag dominate tables all over the country on this date.

My pre-holiday celebration, however, features green! But let me explain why.

I visited Uptown to check out a very unique garden at the McCormick Boys and Girls Club. Built three years ago with the assistance of Les Dames d’Escoffier (an organization of women prominent in the food, beverage and hospitality industries) this garden is a very special place for the more than 200 children who visit the Club daily for after-school and summer programs designed to give them a safe and welcoming place of their own where they can learn and grow.

At least 75 of those children actively participate in the garden by helping to plant, weed and harvest the spinach, lettuce, radishes, sweet peas and peppers.

Members of Les Dames visit monthly all year-round to supervise garden work but also to teach lessons in adventurous new tastes, basic cooking with what they’ve grown, and how to appreciate the foods of the many cultures represented in the group of enthusiastic children.

On any given week, kids with ancestors in a dozen countries cluster around theplanters for lessons in gardening, healthy eating, and perhaps most of all inappreciating their differences. Food is the perfect way to teach these lessons, as the Dames have learned through their interactions.

Dame Mary Abbott Hess, who created the collaboration between Les Dames and the McCormick Club, says, “Healthful eating and cooking are life skills that too many children and adults do not have. It is exciting to see their joy and pride in whatever they plant, harvest and cook — Swiss chard, many varieties of lettuce and spinach, tomatoes, beans, herbs. These adventures in taste create learning experiences while having lots of fun.”

Boys & Girls Clubs of Chicago save lives every day in Chicago’s most challenged neighborhoods, serving more than 10,000 at-risk youth annually. The 16 Chicago Clubs provide young people ages 6-18 a stable, safe, and stimulating environment — a place where they receive the tools they will need to reach their full potential as leaders and productive individuals of strong character.

According to program director Mitch Day, “This partnership with les Dames perfectly aligns with the Boys & Girls Clubs’ commitment to teaching its members health and life skills. This program provides McCormick members with countless opportunities and experiences they would not otherwise have, and of course the youth are enthusiastic about anything relating to food.”

And that enthusiasm was well-demonstrated by the six youngsters who gave me a tour of their garden, then eagerly helped me pick and wash greens, and toss them with a simple dressing they made right in the garden. “ I like the radishes best” said one, while another declared, “I don’t like cooked (peas) but I like these … they are so crunchy and they taste sweet.”

Uptown is a very diverse place with people of many countries coming together in Chicago, all hoping for a better life. While you celebrate the red-white-and-blue representing freedom and advantages of living in the United States this week, also think of the hope that may be the most important ingredient in this simple bowl of salad growing in a multi-ethnic urban neighborhood.

















Nutrition Literacy Program Making a Difference

Mitch Day, Program Director at the McCormick Boys & Girls Club shared a thank you note from the children at the club to members of Les Dames d’Escoffier Chicago. He told the board that in his ten years at the club this is the program of which he is most proud. And the notes on the giant card from the children and staff members at the club confirmed the sentiment.

This program that was initiated by Les Dames Chicago is featured prominently on the club’s website and has gained attention from other Boys & Girls Clubs around the city and internationally as a model. It promotes healthy life style and shines a light on career exploration in food and nutrition from the members of Les Dames who generously share their time teaching and working in the garden.
Mitch shared the beauty of the way this program teaches math, science and reading in a way that is fun and very “un-school-like.” The kids learn cooking as a basic life skill and bring the learning home. They are introduced to healthy foods that they have never experienced and more often than not find that they really enjoy them. The bounty from the garden is often so plentiful that vegetables in season can be brought home.

It is enormously rewarding for our members who participate to hear that comments they simply make in passing have such an impact on the children and their families. One classic remark was from one of the program participants who said she taught her mother how to make the great bean and kale soup they learned to make at the club.

If you would like to get involved in the program by teaching a class, helping in the garden or supporting some of the field trips, please contact program chair Jean True at jt@truecuisine.com