Cook of the Week Challenge winner Dan Rich Tuesday made good on his promise to donate his winnings from the Daily Herald's home cooking contest to the Boys and Girls Club of Elgin and, in doing so, moved the center a few steps closer to a $70,000 plan to expand its kitchen.
Rich, the city of Elgin's superintendent of public works, has been involved in numerous volunteer projects with the organization the past 12 years or so. Early in the 10-week culinary competition he said he would donate his winnings -- a dishwasher from Novak & Parker in Mount Prospect, a George Foreman grill, gift cards to Woodfield Mall and Devon Seafood, and a knife set -- to the organization's Clubhouse facility at 355 Dundee Ave. On Oct. 30, wearing an apron painted by kids at the Clubhouse, Rich won the cook-off and the suite of prizes.
Boys and Girls Club Executive Director Cathy Malkani said the items will be used to equip an expanded kitchen.
"We have a 'warming kitchen' now where we can only serve pretzels and juice boxes," Malkani said. "We want a full kitchen where we can give them a hot meal."
She said 60 percent of the kids who use the center come from families with an income of $19,000 or less and are there many days from 2 to 9 p.m.
A larger kitchen, she said, needs to be outfitted with a commercial oven and stove, a three-basin sink plus meet other health codes. The kitchen would be used to prepare hot meals for the children and could be used as a classroom where they can learn how to create healthy meals.
She said the kitchen renovation, which has not yet received final OK from the center's board of directors, already has secured some funding from the Mary Gardner Foundation and Hanover Township. She still needs $35,000 to make it happen.
"We'd like to get it up and running in the next six months," Malkani said.