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posted: 1/21/2014 8:31 AM

Chef to discuss benefits of cooking healthy at Naperville library

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  • "The Next Food Network Star" finalist chef Judson Todd Allen will appear Jan. 27 at Naperville's 95th Street Library.

      "The Next Food Network Star" finalist chef Judson Todd Allen will appear Jan. 27 at Naperville's 95th Street Library.
    Courtesy of Naperville Public Library

 
By Mary Rakoczy
Naperville Public Library

He's been in the company of celebrity chefs like Alton Brown, Guy Fieri and Giada De Laurentiis.

Now, chef Judson Todd Allen, a former finalist on the "The Next Food Network Star," will visit Naperville Public Library with his wide smiles, delicious eats and healthy tips.

Recognized as the bow tie-wearing, stylish chef who shed more than 100 pounds by cooking healthy, Allen will be the special guest speaker during the library's Healthy, Wealthy & Wise celebration from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Monday, Jan. 27, at 95th Street Library, 3015 Cedar Glade Drive.

Along with offering food samples of his salsa, Allen also will share his personal journey of losing weight.

The Chicago native founded Healthy Infused Cuisine, a Chicago-based company that provides healthy, gourmet cuisine through meal delivery, personal chef services and catering. Along with the Food Network, Allen has appeared on the "Steve Harvey Show" and a variety of local news programs.

"At my highest weight, I was 350 pounds," Allen said during his appearance on the "Steve Harvey Show." "It got so bad that my mother had to put a lock on the refrigerator to keep me from opening it. I was addicted."

Allen lost the weight during a six-month period and now is committed to inspiring others to live healthy.

The Healthy, Wealthy & Wise event culminates a 12-month initiative presented by the library and about 20 community partners. The event will include food samples, interactive booths and prizes.

Attendees who visit the library's partner tables can receive a ticket at each booth for chances to enter a drawing to win prizes, including a one-hour massage from Massage Envy; a one-month membership to Core Power Yoga; a $75 gift card to Eco Gym; and a $150 gift card to Dick's Sporting Goods.

Officials at Whole Foods Market Naperville, one partner in the Healthy, Wealthy & Wise initiative, considers healthy eating to be a lifestyle.

"People are looking to improve their health by eating better and actually shift their lifestyle habits rather than with temporary fixes," said Angela Dennison, healthy eating specialist at Whole Foods Market Naperville.

"More and more people are focusing on plant-strong foods and looking to add more vegetables, fruits and whole grains into their daily meals."

Being financially sound is another component, and the library offers many programs to help patrons become money smart.

"In our Healthy, Wealthy & Wise program, we tried to focus on helping individuals in the community with the decisions that they face that deal with their finances, whether it is savings, opening bank accounts, managing their retirement funds or planning for college," said Kent Palmer, business librarian. "Many of these programs that we held in 2013 will be repeated in 2014."

Other partners attending the Jan. 27 event will focus on educational development.

The library's partner, Literacy DuPage, for example, will educate attendees about how to receive tutoring as well as how to become a tutor.

"I think that being a tutor is very important and does help keep people wise," said Stephanie Bryk, development and outreach manager at Literacy DuPage. "It helps them stay an active part of the community and give back to the community."

No registration or library card is required to attend the Healthy, Wealthy & Wise celebration. For details, visit naperville-lib.org.

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