Local charity cookbook takes national award

  • The Starlet

    The Starlet Courtesy of Moet & Chandon

  • Life, on the Line

    Life, on the Line

  • Courtesy of Morris Publishing

Updated 2/23/2011 11:39 AM

The Kids Feeding Kids Club of Barrington has another $5,000 in its coffers after its fundraising cookbook took first place in a community cookbook contest.

The philanthropic group published the Kids Feeding Kids Cookbook, a collection of 800 recipes from area children and celebrities including Oprah and Sean Hayes. The book, which is sold out, took first place in the 11th Annual Morris Community Cookbook Awards. Morris Press Cookbooks, based in Kearney, Neb., publishes millions of cookbooks every year as keepsakes and fundraisers for churches, schools, organizations and families. The awards recognize organizations that created fundraising cookbooks in 2009 or 2010.


The judges loved the bright, colorful artwork on the cookbook's cover and dividers, as well as the collection of kid-friendly recipes.

"Just reading this book is entertainment. Kids of all ages would love this," said judge Diana McMillen, senior food editor for Midwest Living magazine.

The Kids Feeding Kids Cookbook raised more than $20,000 for Northern Illinois Food Bank -- Youth Nutrition Program, and earned the food bank's Volunteer of the Year award for 6-year-old Carson Pazdan, who came up with the idea.

His mother, Alyssa Pazdan, said the club does not plan to reissue the cookbook and is busy working on its 2011 fundraising event, which should take place in November.

Reading between the lines: Imagine the challenge of running the top restaurant in the country. Now imagine doing that while fighting for your life.

That's just one of the storylines in "Life, on the Line: A Chef's Story of Chasing Greatness, Facing Death, and Redefining the Way We Eat" by super chef Grant Achatz and his Alinea co-founder Nick Kokonas.

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The book is mostly Achatz's story and we get in his own words his take on growing up in a restaurant family in Michigan, attending the Culinary Institute of America, working with the prestigious Thomas Keller at The French Laundry in Napa Valley and then settling back in the Midwest at Trio, in Evanston. That's when trader Kokonas enters the picture and with Achatz they dream up Alinea and make it happen.

Alinea's rise as the nation's best restaurant and Achatz's battle with tongue cancer have been documented in the press, but this book gives us the insight into the passion that pushes him to push boundaries in the kitchen and the passion that pushed him through surgery, chemotherapy and recovery. In the pages we see relationships and ideas rise and crumble and rise again. The book ends after some 380 pages, but we know that the story continues. Achatz has been cancer-free for two years and he and Kokonas haven't stopped planning new culinary ventures.

They duo will be guests on Chicago Live!, a weekly live stage show taped for WGN Radio, on Thursday, Feb. 24, at the Chicago Theatre Downstairs, 175 N. State St.

During the taping, author and radio/TV personality Rick Kogan will interview Achatz and Kokonas along with political satirist and comedian Will Durst; local actor Neil Giuntoli (Seinfeld, Child's Play, Shawshank Redemption); and classically trained jazz singer and Yale-graduated veterinarian Ava Logan.


Tickets cost $20 and are available at The Chicago Theatre box office, Ticketmaster outlets, (800) 745-3000, or online at thechicagotheatre.com or ticketmaster.com.

Maybe they'll give us a taste of the next chapter.

Red carpet cocktails: The jewels around your neck might not rival the ones that Natalie Portman will don for Sunday's Academy Awards, but you can have the same bubbly in your glass that the A-listers drink.

Through the end of March you can sip like Hollywood royalty with a special edition Gold Award Season Moet & Chandon Imperial, the same Champagne served at official parties on the silver screen's biggest night. The sparkler costs $39 and is available where fine wines are sold.

Toast your favorite actors and directors with The Starlet, a cocktail designed by entertaining diva Katie Lee for this year's Oscars celebrations.

In a cocktail shaker combine ounce simple syrup, ounce lime juice and 4 mint leaves. Use a muddler or a wooden spoon to crush the leaves into the liquid. Add ounce tequila and ounce elderflower liqueur and fill shaker with ice. Shake vigorously for 20 seconds. Strain into a flute and top with 3 ounces Moet & Chandon. Garnish with a slice of star fruit.

Meatless Monday: Let's give it up for eggs. Seems these often-maligned ingredients aren't so bad for us after all.

New research by the USDA's Agricultural Research Service shows today's eggs have 14 percent less cholesterol and more vitamin D that previously recorded. Eggs also are packed with vitamins A and E, folate, calcium, iron and lutein.

• Contact Food Editor Deborah Pankey at food@dailyherald.com or (847) 427-4524. Be her friend on Facebook; Deb Pankey Daily Herald.