A Night of Hope Benefit for the International Society for Better Health Access Set for Sunday, June 11
Six women chefs are raising money for the non-profit International Society for Better Heath for their school and food security programs.
Tigist Reda, chef/owner of Demera Ethiopian Restaurant, with the support of her friend chef Sarah Stegner, has been spearheading efforts to raise money for the much-needed programs, helping make a difference in the lives of refugee children at the Hasheba refugee camp close to the Ethiopian border in war-torn Sudan. To date, Reda has raised $240,000 with the help of Chicago Chefs Cook and her women chef friends since the inception of the war.
Reda is at it again. She and Christine Cikowski, chef/owner of Honey Butter Fried Chicken; Diana Dávila, chef/owner of Mi Tocaya; Sandra Holl, chef/owner of Floriole Cafe & Bakery; Sandra Pak, chef/owner of Thattu; and Sarah Stegner of Prairie Grass Cafe will join together for a beautiful evening full of flavor, taste, live music and a traditional Ethiopian Coffee Ceremony. The event will take place, 4 pm to 8 pm, Sunday, June 11 at Guild Row, 3130 N Rockwell St, Chicago, IL 60618.
The cost to attend is $75. Those who cannot attend can still contribute. To purchase tickets and make donations, please visit https://givebutter.com/twUHkD.
"Our mission is to provide quality education, empowering these young minds to overcome adversity and build a brighter future," said Reda. "With generous contributions, we can ensure that the school continues to survive, offering a safe haven for education and personal growth."
According to ISBHA founder Tegest Hailu, "Our impact goes beyond the classroom. We also recognize the importance of holistic development. By maintaining essential activities such as nutrition programs, healthcare initiatives, and micro-financing opportunities, we empower the community towards self-sufficiency and long-term success."
Chef Sarah Stegner
Prairie Grass Cafe
Nichols Farm and Orchard Early glow strawberry salad, Burrata Pugliese & balsamic vinegar, basil, toasted pine nuts
Chef Margaret Pak
Beef puffs: Puff pastry filled with roasted red beets
(Contains what and eggs)
Chef Christine Cikowski
Honey Butter Fried Chicken
Candied Jalapeno pimento cheese dip
Chef Diana Davila
Peanut Butter Lengua with radish, Jamaica onions and epazote
Chef Tigist Reda
Demera Ethiopian Restaurant
Misir wot (spicy red lentils), Gomen (collard greens), Kik Alicha (yellow peas), Tikle gomen (chopped cabbage and carrots)
Doro wot (stewed chicken in berbere sauce), Awaze tibs (sauteed tender beef with onions, tomatoes, jalapenos garlic, and rosemary), Yebeg Alicha (Stewed bone in lamb with turmeric, cardamom, garlic) Yeasa leb leb (sauteed tilapia with onions, tomatoes, jalapenos garlic and rosemary)
Served in injera. Gluten-free option
Floriole Cafe & Bakery
Rhubarb raspberry almond cake
ISBHA's activities started in 2002, prior to its formal registration as a 501©3. The initial focus of the organization was to provide health care primarily focused on HIV, Palliative care/Hospice, and general care for women and children wherever there was an identified need.
Enabling people to produce their own living is one of ISBHA's main projects. Food security is one of the longtime crises in the Tigray region of Ethiopia. The organization is trying to approach this problem at household level starting with the most insecure refugees in Sudan.
Starting with basic elementary education, ISBHA's educational programs aim to help kids develop as they grow. The pilot program at Hasheba Elementary School has provided the organization with much insight into how to best design and implement these programs. The goal is to expand the programs to reach more beneficiaries.
Due to their refugee status, most Tigrayans in Sudan have been left with nothing and are prone to many diseases. By supporting ISBHA, the organization can empower them with simple protection techniques to maintain their hygiene and stay healthy.
Women & Children Programs
Women and children are the most vulnerable part of society. Solving a woman's problem is solving a family problem. With tailored small-scale programs, ISBHA is working hard to empower Tigrayan women who survived the horrific genocide in Tigray.
School in Hasheba
ISBHA started the school in Hasheba and is currently seeking to improve the quality of education and services available to students and teachers.
ISBHA identified a great gap in the availability of cooking energy. They are currently working on pilot projects preparing energy efficient "megogo" and cooking centers that can run electric pans using solar energy.
ISBHA is working in collaboration with other organizations and interested individuals to create an organized and centralized system to provide support to survivors of gender-based violence and women at risk.
For more information, please visit https://isbha.com/
About Demera Ethiopian Restaurant
Demera Ethiopian Restaurant serves traditional Ethiopian cuisine using only the freshest, high quality, and most authentic ingredients. Demera opened its doors in November of 2007 and quickly rose in both popularity and prestige, winning awards and recognition from local and national publications alike.
Over a decade later, Demera Ethiopian Restaurant has grown to become one of Chicago's favorite Ethiopian restaurants and a staple of the Ethiopian-American community of Chicago. Situated within the vibrant and colorful neighborhood of Uptown, Demera serves Chicago residents and visitors daily, allowing guests to experience Ethiopian hospitality and the delicious flavors of the cuisine.
For many of the guests experiencing Demera Ethiopian Restaurant for the first time, or as repeat customers, what impresses and fascinates them the most is not only the exciting flavors, excellent service, and exotic traditions of Ethiopia but also the experience of communal "family-style" hand-eaten meals shared among family and friends.
Demera has been recognized and received excellent reviews from the Chicago media, such as: Eater 38 Essential Chicago Restaurants, Hungry Hound, Yelp, Zagat, Check Please!, And Michelin Guide Recommended, among others.
About Tigist Reda
Demera's Chef & Owner, Tigist Reda, was born and raised in Ethiopia and has lived in Chicago for the past 20(+) years. She learned the secrets of traditional Ethiopian cuisine from the elder women in her family, by helping them to prepare family meals and banquets. As an adult, Tigist discovered that she had a passion for entertaining guests and for sharing herself and her family's culture with them. Several months later, with the help of her former husband, Tigist opened Demera Ethiopian Restaurant and began serving authentic Ethiopian cuisine to the public.
About Sarah Stegner
Sarah Stegner is the co-owner & chef of Prairie Grass Cafe in Northbrook Illinois. She is the former restaurant chef of The Dining Room at the Ritz Carlton Chicago, owned and operated by Four Seasons. She worked there for 21 years before opening Prairie Grass Cafe in 2004. She is a two-time James Beard Award Winner and was recently named Restaurateur of the Year by the Illinois Restaurant Association. Stegner is a founding member- past president of Green City Market (501c3) and continues to drive education surrounding the organic sustainable food movement into the mainstream. She also is a founding member of The Abundance Setting, (501c3) which supports working women & mothers in the culinary industry. Stegner is passionate about local food, creating a better model in the culinary industry & helping others. Sarah is a founding member of Chicago Chefs Cook. The all-volunteer chefs' group has raised over a million dollars primarily for World Central Kitchen, HPN for refugees of Tigray, Pilot Light, and Green City Market. She is now a member of the Chef Corp for WCKITCHEN. Finally, Sarah is committed to helping Sebastian White founder of the Evolved Network- create a wellness space through food, farming, and cooking
About Margaret Pak
Margaret Pak, Executive Chef and Co-Owner of Thattu was born and raised on California's Central Coast. She grew up with Santa Maria-style tri-tip and homestyle Korean cooking. A self-taught chef with a lifelong passion for food, Margaret worked in the corporate world for over a dozen years before delving into the food industry professionally. In 2017, she started as a Prep cook at Chicago's Korean-Polish restaurant, Kimski. She held a series of popups inspired by the cuisine of her husbands' home, Kerala, the southwestern coastal state of India.
May 2019 Thattu started as a food stall in the West Loop with a very short menu. In 10 short months of operating, Thattu was recognized locally and nationally. Thattu was recognized as 2020 Jean Banchet Nominee Best Counter Service, 2020 James Beard Semi-finalist Best New Restaurant and 2020 Food & Wine Magazine Best New Restaurant. After closing due to the pandemic, Margaret and Vinod continued doing pop-ups - and this led to finding the brick and mortar home of Thattu in Avondale. Thattu is currently open for lunch only from 11-2:30pm and plans to extend to dinner service very soon.
About Sandra Holl
Sandra Holl, the chef/owner of Floriole Cafe & Bakery, was born and raised in the Midwest. She returned to the area after teaching English in France, attending culinary school, and baking in San Francisco. In 2006 Sandra started Floriole with a table, tent and a few pastries at the Chicago Green City Market. By 2010 the business had grown into a flourishing full-service cafe and bakery in Lincoln Park specializing in French-inspired pastries rooted in midwestern ingredients.
In 2016 Sandra was named Pastry Chef of the Year at Chicago's Jean Banchet Awards. She is a 2018 graduate of the James Beard Foundation Women in Entrepreneurial Leadership Program, a Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Business Alum, served on the steering committee of the Artisan Grain Collaborative, was an associate board member of Green City Market, and is a board member of Les Dames Escoffier Chicago chapter.
About Christine Cikowski
At Honey Butter Fried Chicken in Chicago's Avondale neighborhood, Christine Cikowski serves a menu mindful of just how comforting food can be, especially when made with high-quality ingredients sourced from local farmers. Opening the restaurant in the fall 2013 served as the culmination of several elements for Cikowski: putting her and Co-Chef/Owner Josh Kulp's ideas into a brick-and-mortar restaurant; continuing the community they built around Sunday Dinner Club, which they'd founded in 2005; and creating a business at which they'd want to work, backed by business principles that embodied valuing employees. Cikowski has also vigorously supported other employees in their own endeavors, including starting some of their own businesses.
"It was challenging to put ourselves out there, and humbling to open a restaurant and actually have it be successful," Cikowski says. "I think our business practices set us up for that success, like paying employees fair wages, paid parental leave, offering health insurance, addressing mental health, DEI in the workplace, and work/life balance. It is always a work in progress, there is always more we can do - and we do see the positive effects of offering these benefits, and it's supporting people's lives for the better, which in turn supports our business for the better."
She grew up with parents who loved to cook, bake, and garden, and had worked in restaurants since she was 16, but didn't follow her passion for cooking until she was 27, enrolling in Kendall College School of Culinary Arts in Chicago. (She's a bit of a late bloomer.) At culinary school, she met Kulp, and the two of them began hatching plans for Sunday Dinner Club after reading a New York Times article on underground dining. Cikowski worked at Blackbird in Chicago for 20 months after graduating and consecutively launched Sunday Dinner Club. Her experience at the award-winning restaurant grafted onto her personal chef philosophies, from how to run businesses to cooking high-quality seasonal food and putting menus together.
Throughout the years, Cikowski, along with Kulp, garnered acclaim including a spot on Eater Chicago's Essential 38 List, Jean Banchet "Chef of the Year" Nominations, a Chicago Tribune Dining Award, Star Chefs Rising Star Chef, Good Food Chef of the Year award from Family Farmed. Additionally, Honey Butter Fried Chicken won both Chicago Tribune's Reader's Choice Award for Best Fried Chicken, and Chicago Magazine's Reader's Choice Award for Best Fried Chicken.
Christine has worked closely on activist and community initiatives with Pilot Light, RAISE, the James Beard Foundation, Chicago's Green City Market, The Mayor's Task Force for Working Families, and Step Up Women's Network. She and Kulp have also co-authored op-eds advocating for higher wages and the elimination of the subminimum wage in Chicago. In her spare time, she enjoys practicing yoga, off the grid hiking and camping, and spending time with her adorable rescue dog Dusty.
About Diana Dávila
Chef Diana Dávila has established herself within the restaurant industry over the past twenty years by working relentlessly to change the stigma around Mexican cuisine, most notably through her Logan Square restaurant Mi Tocaya Antojería.
A Chicago native, Dávila began working in her parent's taqueria at the age of 10. Since then, Dávila's career has taken her to different corners of North America from Oaxaca, Mexico to Washington D.C., and back to Chicago. Dávila trained under industry giants including Susana Trilling, Ryan Poli, Giuseppe Tentori, and Jackie Greenbaum before carving out her own slice of culinary excellence when she opened Mi Tocaya Antojería in 2017.
Dávila uses fresh ingredients and bold flavors at Mi Tocaya while serving up Mexican favorites as well as lesser-known regional specialties, authentically representing Central American cuisine.
Mi Tocaya and Dávila have been the recipients of numerous awards including Bon Appetit's "Best New Restaurants" 2017 (Top 50), Food & Wine Magazine's "Best New Chefs" (2018), Chicago Tribune's "Chef of the Year" (2019), a Bib Gourmand designation from the Chicago Michelin Guide (2018, 2019, 2021, 2021), and more.
Dávila is also passionate about supporting the local community through her non-profit, The Todos Ponen Project, which supports causes that are meaningful to her and her team.