New faces, new columns, new recipes starting in Food

  • Biz Velatini

    Biz Velatini

Updated 4/6/2020 5:24 PM

Today, I'd like to introduce you to two new columnists who will each be writing monthly in food.

First, say hello to Biz Velatini and her column My Bizzy Kitchen, which debuts today. Written by food blogger Biz Velatini from Cary, the column is all about tasty food and ease of preparation for those who want to get dinner on the table on busy weeknights. She'll also share recipes for the weekend when there's more time to cook.


"My focus pretty much is simple, healthy food," she said. "I'm not going to have people forage for truffles in the woods for one of my recipes."

She says her mission is to motivate people to cook, and her recipes are relatable too as most use less than 10 ingredients and take less than 30 minutes to make. "I want to get people comfortable in the kitchen."

"It's so rewarding when people send me pictures of something they made, saying, 'look Biz, I did it.'"

As for cooking at home, she says, "You save money and eat better," a win-win situation for someone who calls herself a super budget shopper.

"I think cooking is enjoyable and I can spend hours in the kitchen, but that's not everyone's dream," she says. "If I can make people get busy in their kitchens, that's great."

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Biz shares a yummy recipe for Spring Orzo Salad today. Keep up with her at mybizzykitchen on Instagram and Facebook or with her blog at

Leslie Meredith
Leslie Meredith
Coming soon:

A new column from Leslie Meredith, the winner of the 2019 Cook of the Week Challenge and cooking instructor at the year-old School of Food for kids, which she runs out of her Arlington Heights home.

The Kids Cook column debuts in Food next week.

In November, she wowed the judges with her dual beef and vegan curries, which were accompanied by a homemade roti flatbread made from cauliflower to win the coveted title of Cook of the Year.

The mission of her school is to get kids into the kitchen, perhaps with a little supervision and support. She finds kids will eat or at least try the food if they've had a hand in making it.


"It's better than recipes that hide and, say, trick kids into eating their vegetables. I don't have to dumb it down. They are pretty adventurous eaters when they have a hand in making the food," she said.

The kids get into the classes with activities that range from hunting through her garden for fresh ingredients to doing the prep work.

"The kids sometimes fight over the garlic press or citrus juicer because they never get to use them," Leslie said.

At a recent PTA meeting, she demonstrated how to make healthy after-school snacks, and her beet hummus was a huge hit with parents. So much so that some of her students' parents have asked if she offers cooking classes for adults.

Leslie's philosophy on cooking: "real" food, minimally processed.

That's not to say she cooks from scratch all the time. "No, I improvise, and I use cheats, for instance for the beet hummus I made, I told them you can buy the beets in a jar already cooked and peeled," she said. "I plop it all in my food processor, and there you go."

She grows quite a lot of produce in her garden, so it's no wonder she takes a plant-based approach, and while she's garden-focused, she says she's "plant-based but not vegetarian or vegan."

You can find the School of Food at @learngrowcookeat on Facebook or contact Leslie at

Be careful out there:

You might find yourself staying in and cooking more at home to steer clear of the spread of coronavirus. A little comfort food sounds good.

Why not search the Daily Herald archives for a fresh look at some favorite recipes. Put keywords such as poultry, vegetables, grains, spices or cheese into the search function and see what recipes appear. Visit and use the recipe search box at the right-hand side of the page. There are all kinds of comfort foods saved there, and this is a time for comfort, indeed.

• Contact Food Editor Susan Stark at or (847) 427-4586. Be her friend on Stark DailyHerald or follow her on Twitter.

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