Sarah Ewing appreciates cooking and eagerly shares her obsession. She gets high school students working in the kitchen, sparks discussion on the radio about top restaurants and drives people to the web for great recipes.
Now 23, Sarah recalls that even at a young age, she looked at food from a different perspective.
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"On Saturdays and Sundays I'd wake up really early and go downstairs and grab whatever we had in the kitchen and try to concoct something. It didn't always turn out that great. I just liked experimenting," said Sarah, who lives in Barrington.
She has since taken her passion and found unique ways to share it with others.
Going into her sophomore year at Barrington High School, she started the school's first culinary arts club. Each week the group would sample foods from around the globe, create snacks or organize "Iron Chef"-style competitions.
"Food is a common subject; there is a subculture of people that show the same interest as you do. Even if they don't like to cook, maybe they just wanted to find a new club they feel more accepted," she said. "Who doesn't like to eat. If you don't know how to cook, try to help out and learn a couple things and give it a shot. I think that's what happened."
She added, "We all ate together after everything was done. ... It was a good time, sort of like a family dinner but with a group of friends."
Sarah's next culinary excursion brought her to the airwaves. As a senior at DePaul University in Chicago, her love for food served as inspiration to create a radio program she called "The Side Dish." "I think at first my show was going to start out sharing recipes and restaurant reviews because I was the person who always wanted to go out to eat with my friends and we were always choosing different places around the city to go eat at," she said. Sarah said every episode followed a theme. When celebrating Halloween, Sarah said "The Side Dish" highlighted the most haunted restaurants and bars in Chicago.
"It was a food variety show because every show was different," she said. "We had a comedian. We had a chocolatier, and we cracked open a chocolate wine bottle in the studio. It was a blast."
The radio show, which received an international following via iHeart radio, came to an end after she graduated in 2013.
She has continued to share recipes, food news and musings at Facebook.com/TheSideDish. Recently she featured recipes for the Kentucky Derby and Mother's Day, and gave followers the lowdown on Germanfest and Ferrara Bakery, an old-style Italian bakery in Chicago.
"It's a little bit of everything," she said. "I will absolutely be putting up a bunch of stuff for Fourth of July. I've been collecting really easy summer fun recipes I hope to put up."
Sarah plans to pursue a master's degree in digital marketing and hopes that being back at DePaul will give her another opportunity to host "The Side Dish."
"They are happy at the idea of me coming back and doing my show," she said. "We'll see what the future holds about that."
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