Dame du Jour: Shara Bohach

By Maria Isabella, Interview by Marty Nagele

When one is able to mesh personal passion with professional talents, that’s nirvana. And that’s exactly what Shara Bohach has found in her position as a graphic designer for the food industry.
“I’ve been interested in the creative side of food since college,” Shara confesses, “and somehow everything I did always came back to it.” A graphic design major at Kent State University, all of her design projects inevitably revolved around food.  So it was quite natural that she would eventually go on to form her own firm, Unity Design, which specializes in design for the culinary industry. In fact, Unity Design’s very first client was a restaurant. That was 12 years ago – and they're now busier than ever.

“Food has always been comfortable and intriguing for me,” she adds. “I'm so fortunate to merge that love with my profession.”

“I’m constantly eating out and trying new restaurants, both from a foodie perspective and from a business perspective – keeping an eye on trends in the industry” she explains.

When asked where she has experienced her best meal, Shara quickly responds it was at La Truffe, a small restaurant in Paris that specialized in mushrooms. Another favorite was Pimlico Tandoori, an Indian restaurant in London that served as her introduction to Indian cuisine, which she cites as a palate-changing experience. In the States, one of her favorites is (Dame Ruth Levine's) Bistro 185 “with their unbelievably delicious vegan nights.”

Her perfect meal? Vegan “chicken” Marsala with roasted asparagus, paired with a red Zin from Lodi, California.

As for the most unusual thing she’s ever eaten, Shara admits it was actually a drink…an earthy Greek wine made with pine resin, called Retsina. She served this as part of a theme menu at a recent book club meeting after reading “The Gargoyle” by Andrew Davidson.

When it comes to entertaining, she loves to be out on her deck serving simple, fresh guacamole or bruschetta and wine. The view of the woods from there is magnificent.

Shara first became aware of Les Dames from Laura Taxel and Crickett Karson at the Feast for Amelia fundraiser at Lucky’s Café in 2007. She joined right after that.

Learn more about Shara as she shares some fun and interesting insights about herself.

What is your favorite cookbook? “Vegan with a Vengeance” by Isa Chandra Moskowitz.

What’s your favorite comfort food? Garlic mashed potatoes!

What’s your favorite snack? Hummus and veggie sticks, or cheese.

Do you have a signature dish? Eggplant Parmesan Lasagna. And guacamole, both traditional and creative variations.

What’s your go-to, quick-and-easy dinner? Veggie and tofu stir fry.

What’s your favorite dessert to prepare? I don't make many desserts, but I do make a lot of muffins and really enjoy making them.

What’s the biggest cooking mistake you’ve ever made? I'm always looking for ways to incorporate more nutrition into recipes, and therefore make a lot of substitutions. I once tried substituting millet flour for most of the wheat flour in a recipe for pumpkin bread. The results were disastrous, terrible tasting, and dense as a brick. Fortunately, my dog liked it, so she ate pumpkin bread treats for quite a while!

What’s one ingredient you can’t live without? Garlic. There was this garlic soup that I had once at Max's Deli (a restaurant that used to be in Rocky River). I went back so many times in search of it, and they never had it. Some day I will have to try making it.

Name 3 things that are always in your refrigerator.  Fresh veggies, tofu, and ground flax seed.

Name 3 kitchen gadgets you can’t live without. My rice cooker, small prep bowls, and Microplane's Herb Mill (which I learned about from Dame Bev Shaffer’s blog!).


Holiday Happy Hour

By Cynthia Schuster Eakin

Chef Nolan Konkoski’s SoHo Kitchen and Bar in Ohio City had just the right ingredient to spice up Les Dames d’Escoffier Cleveland Chapter’s Holiday Happy Hour on December 12.

Chapter members gathered to raise a toast to Les Dames’ 2012 accomplishments. The opportunity to sample Konkoski’s southern cuisine provided added incentive for the festive meeting.

Cleveland Dames dined on appetizers of Carolina peanut soup with sweet potatoes and apples, and duck gumbo, made with six different components of duck and topped with crispy duck cracklings. The culinary highlight of the evening was the chef’s weekly “Chicken Scratch” menu, featuring all-natural, Ohio-raised birds, southern-fried to order. Side dishes like smoky macaroni and cheese, deviled eggs, jalapeno hushpuppies, mashed potatoes with bourbon gravy and cornbread waffles with Ohio maple syrup, wrapped up the perfect Les Dames holiday treat.


Year-End Meeting at La Campagna

By Shara Bohach

At our year-end meeting, we were treated to a discussion and book signing of Maria Isabella's new book, "In the Kitchen with Cleveland's Favorite Chefs" over a wonderful dinner at Carmella Fragassi's La Campagna in Westlake. After our brief business meeting, we had a lively discussion on topics from book publishing, to Dames helping Dames, to corrections officering (sorry, if you weren't there, you'll have to ask someone who was!) There was also a surprise mini-bridal-shower thrown for me (Shara) - which was such a touching surprise (thank you!

More photos from the evening can be seen on our facebook page...


Dames Demo! at The Fabulous Food Show

By Shara Bohach

Cleveland Dames were well represented at The Fabulous Food Show 2012. Whether they were demoing, presenting, or book signing, here's who took the stage!

Candice Berthold
Bev Shaffer
Maria Isabella
Stefanie Paganini
Ruth Levine
Marilou Suszko
Laura Taxel


Dame du Jour: Marty Nagele

By Maria Isabella, Interview by Shara (Foldi) Bohach

We all have our own earliest childhood memory of food. For Marty, it was when she was still a very young girl. “I was always a huge eater,” she recalls. “So when I was only nine years old, my parents’ friends took me to a smorgasbord because they thought they would really get their money’s worth with me. And they sure did!”

Truth be told, food has always been Marty’s focus, whether for pleasure or as a future career. In fact, ever since high school, Marty has either been working in restaurants, catering, or teaching the culinary arts.  (She earned her degree in Family and Consumer Science from Bowling Green University.)

“I taught the culinary arts for 18 years and now work for the Ohio Restaurant Association Education Foundation,” says Marty with pride. “I am an education coordinator for Ohio ProStart, a program taught at most Ohio high school culinary programs.”

But you’ll never hear the least bit of boasting on her part, which she could so easily do. That’s because, five years ago, she was awarded the prestigious “Culinary Teacher of the Year” award.
“It was a wonderful surprise to just be nominated. But then they showed up at my work and surprised me with the actual award!” says Marty with great modesty.

As for who actually influenced her love of food the most, she admits it had to be the Gallucci family. “They shared their interest in the Cleveland restaurant scene with me, and we ate at every great restaurant in the city during that time.” One of her personal favorites was the Wagon Wheel, a true French restaurant located on Shaker Square.

But Shaker Square is a far cry from Belgium, where Marty says she had the absolute best food in her life. “I spent a great deal of time researching where and what to eat for this trip, and it really paid off,” she admits.

As for her current favorite restaurant in the States, it has to be Alinea in Chicago. “But you have to get reservations a year in advance!” Marty laments.

So how did she hear of LDEI? “From Michelle Gaw and Jan DeLucia,” Marty says. “I was immediately impressed and liked the organization right away. I’ve been a member for five years now.”

What does she enjoy most about being a member? “The people and the programs,” she responds without the slightest hesitation.

Learn more about Marty as she shares some fun and interesting insights about herself.

Describe your perfect meal. A really well-prepared fish. Plus I love Sauvignon Blanc from the Marlborough region of New Zealand. I can immediately taste that a wine is from this region, and I love it. That would be the perfect wine.

How do you like to entertain? I love Thanksgiving because it is all about eating. I try to sneak in one new dish each year, although I’m locked into making all of the usual recipes, too, because they remind me of home. I do have one vegetarian daughter [out of three], so I have to tweak the menu a bit for her.

Do you have a signature dish? Eggplant Parmesan. My secret is a very thin coating of mayonnaise on the eggplant before breading it. I find it imparts more flavor than an egg wash.

What’s your go-to, quick-and-easy dinner? Fajitas.

What’s your favorite comfort food? Parmesan Goldfish!

What is your favorite cookbook? The Barefoot Contessa. I love the way Ina Garten entertains.

What’s your favorite dessert to prepare? Tarte tatin. It’s so pretty with its concentric circles of apples.

What’s one ingredient you can’t live without? Cheese. It goes on pretty much everything I make. My favorite is smoked Gouda.

Name 3 kitchen gadgets you can’t live without. My microplane, handheld juicer, and chef’s knife.

What is the one thing you like best about your kitchen? It’s brand new! We gutted it two years ago, redid everything, and got all new appliances, including a wine fridge. I especially love my giant sink, which doubles as a baby bathtub for my granddaughter!


Dame du Jour: Cynthia Eakin

by Maria Isabella, Interview by Joan Pistone

No wonder Cynthia is so good at what she does. She brings a lifelong love of food and a sincere appreciation for hard work to her job (quite frankly, one that all foodies would envy) as a successful and widely respected newspaper staff writer and dining and entertainment columnist.

“The hospitality industry has always been a part of my life,” says Cynthia. “When my great-grandfather arrived in this country, he opened a tavern to support his family. My grandparents and parents were also restaurateurs.”

She goes on to add, “I grew up with the greatest respect for people in the restaurant business.  I think one of the reasons so many restaurants fail is because people open them with the idea that, ‘I like to cook and I like people,’ thinking that qualifies them for success. They don’t realize how hard they will have to work and the long hours they will have to endure…My parents finally retired ten years ago when they were 75.”

What was it like growing up with restaurateur parents? “My sister and I were both raised in my parents’ restaurant,” she explains. “I worked every New Year’s Eve and Mother’s Day until I married and moved to Cleveland from Western Pennsylvania. On Friday evenings, when dinner business slowed down a bit, my parents would have me join them for a late meal. My father said I could order anything on the menu, but it had to be seafood and it had to be different each week…I have yet to sample a clam chowder that is as good as theirs!”

Armed with a freshly minted degree in journalism/news from Kent State University, her first job as a journalist had her writing about a wide variety of topics. “Strangely enough,” she admits with a smile, “my favorite subject has always been food.”

Now that both her children are grown, Cynthia and her husband combine recreation and entertainment as boaters. “Every Sunday, we extend an invitation for friends to join us at our dock for a cookout. Sometimes, 20 or 30 friends and fellow boaters show up. We fire up a couple of Weber grills, and everyone brings something to share. We always have way too much food, but somehow it all seems to disappear by the end of the evening.”

Curious minds want to know, as a restaurant writer, which is Cynthia’s favorite restaurant. “I am often asked this question. I always reply that I have many favorites, depending on my mood and what food I crave. Some sort of fresh seafood is always at the top of list of foods to order,” she reveals.

As for how she learned of LDEI, Cynthia explains, “I had the honor of being invited to an LDEI meeting half a dozen years ago by a fellow Cleveland chapter member. I am truly in awe of the talent and intelligence of the women in this group.”

Learn more about Cynthia as she shares some fun and interesting insights about herself.

Who influenced your love of food the most?

Several times each summer, my grandfather would host a lamb roast for family and friends. The men would spend the day roasting a whole lamb on a spit while enjoying cold beverages, and everyone invited would contribute a favorite dish. I wanted to continue that family tradition for my own children. Several years ago, I purchased a La Caja China roasting box. Each summer, my husband and I host a lamb or pig roast for 60 to 70 of our closest friends and family.

Of all the places you’ve traveled, where did you have the best food?

Describe it. One of the most memorable meals I have ever had was in Jamaica. I was invited to fly there for lunch with a number of other writers. We were shuttled from the airport to a tiny, private island off the coast of Montego Bay, where we enjoyed a meal of fresh Amberjack, beans and rice, lobster pizza and, of course, delicious jerk chicken.

What’s the most unusual thing you’ve ever eaten?

Probably Japanese Fugu (or blowfish).

What’s your favorite comfort food?

My mother’s meatloaf. I love it hot or cold. I also enjoy some of the ethnic dishes, like stuffed cabbage and apple strudel, that my grandmother prepared when I was growing up. Cold turkey dressing and potato salad are dangerous because I can’t pass by the refrigerator without a forkful if I know those items are in there.

What’s your favorite snack?
Planters Heat Hot Spicy Peanuts (the chipotle seasoned ones). I’m addicted to them.

Do have a signature dish?

I don’t have a signature dish. I love to cook all types of food. My son has always loved stuffed grape leaves. So, I learned to make them from a recipe I got from the Greek Church of the Annunciation. I make them whenever he’s in town from Chicago. My son also loves to cook. When he was young, we made Sunday dinner together. It could be anything he wanted as long as he helped shop for the ingredients and prepare the meal. My daughter, on the other hand, has always loved to bake. She tells me that she is that strange person in the office who arrives at work carrying boxes of cupcakes that she has baked for the other employees. I am proud to say that I’ve raised a couple of fine foodies.

What’s your go-to, quick-and-easy dinner?
Caesar salad or Greek salad with feta cheese and grilled salmon.

What’s your favorite dessert to prepare?

My favorite desserts are pies and cobblers. (I’m not much of a chocolate lover.) My mother baked four fresh pies every morning for their restaurant. I make a great strawberry/rhubarb crisp with rhubarb that we grow in our own garden. Concord grape pie is also another favorite and an autumn tradition. It can be time-consuming because you have to separate the grape pulp from the seeds and the skin. Consequently, my husband has always called it my “swearing” pie. He disappears until it goes into the oven.

What’s one ingredient you can’t live without?
The one core ingredient I always have on hand is fresh garlic. My sister and I get together in late summer to can hot peppers in oil and spicy dill pickles. So, you will always find those in my refrigerator, too, along with goat cheese for snacking. I also love Heinz spicy brown mustard. I guess I like fiery foods. My husband loves Orlando Seed’licious bread, so that is always in the refrigerator as well.

Name 3 kitchen gadgets you can’t live without.

A Calphalon skillet; a good, sharp knife; and my KitchenAid mixer.


Julia Child's 100th Birthday Celebration

By Cynthia Schuster Eakin

The spirit of Julia Child was rocking and rolling in Cleveland on Aug. 15, as the members of the area chapter of Les Dames des Escoffier and guests celebrated her 100th birthday.

More than 50 party goers attended the festivities, held at beautiful Beachcliff Cabinet and Design in Rocky River, Ohio.  Dames prepared a variety of authentic Julia Child dishes, made according to Julia's own recipes. Offerings included a variety of salad platters, cold soup, French bread with herbed butter, quiche and Julia’s favorite chocolate birthday cake, the Queen of Sheba. French wine, bottles of Prince Rubis red Bordeaux and white Bordeaux, were generously donated by Tim English, owner of Private Reserve. “I met Julia when she was giving a lecture at Johnson and Wales in 1983. She was fantastic!” he noted.

Members of Les Dames de Escoffier dressed as Julia might have for her own party, in a white blouse, black skirt or slacks and a string of pearls. Guests enjoyed Julia’s televised cooking shows and viewed Julia Child memorabilia owned by Les Dames members. Highlights of the evening included a Julia Child voice imitation contest, won by Cleveland Les Dames chapter founding member Marilou Suszko, and a visit by “Julia” herself.

Many more event photos can be seen on our facebook page!


Dame du Jour: Beth Segal

By Maria Isabella, Interview by Beth Davis-Noragon

Freshly armed with a degree in film production from Northwestern University, a few years’ employment at the Kranzten Studio of Catalog Photography in Chicago, and plenty of chutzpah, Beth eagerly ventured out east to open her own photography studio in New York City. While there, she worked her magic for a number of interesting clients, including Chanel, Tiffany, and Mattel.
But her smartest move of all? Eventually heading back to the Midwest and opening her own studio right here in Cleveland, called — appropriately enough — Beth Segal Photography.
A multi-talented professional with a great eye, Beth shoots an interesting range of subjects, although “food is the best subject to photograph,” she confesses. “It’s always colorful and structurally interesting. And it never suffers a bad hair day!”
Where did her love of food originate? “From my mom, who tried to feed her five children, all under the age of 10, osso bucco and vichyssoise because those were the dishes she was learning to make in her cooking classes,” Beth says with a grin.
With such an early introduction to the finer dishes in life, it’s no surprise that her later experiences with food would be just as memorable.
“Of all the places I’ve traveled,” reveals Beth, “the best food was at this little auberge somewhere deep in eastern France.” She goes on to explain, “We had just arrived to visit a friend in Geneva and were exhausted. But he insisted we go out to eat immediately. I don’t remember much, but that meal was truly transformative.”
As for her favorite restaurant stateside? “Kiev in New York City,” she says with no hesitation whatsoever. “It was a pretty seedy place in an even worst neighborhood, but they had the best blintzes, kasha varnishkes, and really rich cheesecake. It cost almost nothing, which was exactly about all the money we had back then. But it always felt so decadent eating there.”
And how about her perfect meal today? “It would have to be foie gras, foie gras, foie gras. Plus some brie, a baguette, apricots, a very tart lemon sorbet, and nice bottle of rosé.”
When it comes to entertaining, Beth prefers summer grilling and dining al fresco. A Caesar salad with grilled chicken and watermelon is her go-to signature meal, accompanied by an apple raspberry crisp, “done very crisp,” she adds.
How did she hear of LDEI? “From Debbi Snook [of the Plain Dealer]. I have been a member for three years now and really enjoy the exposure to myriad food influences as well as the eclectic makeup of the group.”
Learn more about Beth as she shares some fun and interesting insights about herself.
What part does food or wine play in your daily life? I consume the former at least three times a day, the latter not quite as often. But they are both frequent photography subjects.

What’s your earliest childhood memory of food or wine? When I was three, someone gave me an enormous box of ribbon candy, and it was the most beautiful, shiny thing I had ever seen. Up until that point, I had led a very candy-restricted life. I saved it so long that it calcified.

What food always reminds you of home? Every year, my mother makes these pastries filled with honey, nuts, apricots, poppy seeds, or chocolate for Purim. They’re called hamentashen. She’s 86 now and still sends big boxes of them to everyone in our family. When I get mine, I know all is right with the world.

What’s the most unusual thing you’ve ever eaten? It was so weird, I don’t even know what it was. It was in Japan, and it was this tubular, gelatinous thing that no one could even tell me what it was, only to eat it quickly. It was a strange sort of chartreuse-y color. Quivery, but you didn’t have to chew it.

Which one chef (living or deceased) would you want to invite over for dinner and what would you serve? M.F.K. Fisher. It would have to be something precious because she was so precious. Truite au bleu (blue trout) pulled right out of the water and cooked immediately, with new potatoes.

What is your favorite food blog? Food52 by Amanda Hesser.

Any favorite indulgences? Campari and orange juice.

What’s the biggest cooking mistake you’ve ever made? I accidentally left a leg of lamb on top of the refrigerator overnight to defrost. It was totally spoiled by the next morning. That was actually more of a pre-cooking mistake.

Name 3 things that are always in your refrigerator. Orange juice (see above), mayonnaise, and eggs.

Name 3 kitchen gadgets you can’t live without. A microplane, corkscrew, and an antique wire whisk that always does a brilliant job. It has a great handle, and the wires are fairly flexible so you can get into the corners nicely.


Happy Hour Fun at Grovewood Tavern & Winebar

By Shara Foldi
Photos by Beth Segal

We had a small turnout but big fun last night at Dame Beth-Davis Noragon's Grovewood Tavern & Winebar in Collinwood. The sweltering heat changed over to pleasant breezes just in time, so we enjoyed dining al fresco on the patio while discussing everything from CSAs to theatre to summer vacations to the upcoming Julia Child event.

We shared some happy hour specials and regular menu items, sending them around the table until every last bit was gobbled up - literally! The Bruschetta was out of this world, with red and yellow tomatoes bursting with flavor tossed with the most fragrant basil and sweet balsamic, and served with buttery crostini. Also enjoyed were a Grilled Pita Flatbread topped with arugula pesto and finished with an organic, local, fried egg which oozed perfectly when cut into; Portabello mushroom-filled Potstickers with big mushroom flavor inside; and a delightful Apricot Crisp with Vanilla bean ice cream. These apricots tasted as if they just came off the tree and we found out that, in fact, they did! All of the delicious produce is local and had just arrived from Fresh Fork.

We also indulged in a variety of cocktails from Grovewood's extensive beverage menu. The pretty and fragrant Aviation, with Bombay Saphire and finished with Creme de Violette was the star. Also enjoyed were the lush Tierra Divina Old Vine Malbec, the Pink Paintbrush Dry Rosé, and a Sparkling Wine.

Overall it was a beautiful evening with great conversation and delightful tastes of food and drink. We hope more Dames will join us on our next adventure!


Dame du Jour: Beth Davis-Noragon

By Maria Isabella, Interview by Beth Segal

With both undergraduate and graduate degrees in anthropology plus an MBA, you’d think Beth Davis-Noragon would now be either conducting an archaeological dig or overseeing one. Instead, she’s running the Grovewood Tavern & Wine Bar (as she has for the past 13 years) — and she couldn’t be any happier!
 “Our favorite neighborhood wine bar closed,” explains Beth, “and we were just foolhardy enough to give running our own a go. It turned into a restaurant very quickly, and the rest, as they say, is history.”
What’s a typical day like for her? “I plan menus, market food and wines, and create pairing dinners. Then,” she adds with a laugh, “I have dinner.”  However, when asked what accomplishment she’s most proud of, she quickly turns very serious. “I employ almost 25 people. I am making a difference as a small business owner in their lives.” We couldn’t agree more.
Although a whiz in the kitchen, Beth admits her earliest childhood memory of food is the cold baked bean sandwiches her father used to make on leftover hamburger buns. “It was one of his ‘specialties,’” she chuckles. But just as fondly, she also remembers the elaborate holiday meals her grandmother used to prepare, including standing crown rib roast and green beans amandine.
Although salted dark chocolate is her indulgence, her mother-in-law’s potato salad is her favorite comfort food, and chips are her weakness, when it comes to her own go-to, quick-and-easy dinner choice, roasted chicken, mashed potatoes, and a vegetable are it.  Not to mention apple crisp for dessert.
And when it comes to entertaining, Beth likes to go casual with a lot of easy dishes. “It’s more about the company than the food,” she says.
How did she hear of LDEI? “I was invited by one of the founding members – I don’t remember which Dame – to attend a meeting at the Flying Fig. I have been a member since the second year of the chapter’s existence.”
As for what she enjoys most about being an LDEI member? “The camaraderie and helpfulness of the members,” she answers without missing a beat.
Learn more about Beth as she shares some fun and interesting insights about herself.
Of all the places you’ve traveled, where did you have the best food or wine? Paris. Every meal in Paris is amazing – from the corner bistro to the Michelin-rated restaurants. My husband and I got engaged over the fish course (skate wing, to be exact).

What’s your favorite restaurant and what do you usually order there? Grovewood Tavern, of course! Everything on the menu is great, if I say so myself. But I particularly like the home-grown Ohio tomato bruschetta in season.

What is the most unusual thing you’ve ever eaten? I think I had horse once when I was in France as a teenager.

Which one chef would you want to invite over for dinner and what would you serve? Julia Child. I’d make perfect roast chicken and fresh-picked green beans.

What is your favorite cookbook? There are too many of them to pick just one. But if I had to choose, it would be my mom’s annotated Betty Crocker cookbook from the 1960s. It’s the one I still go to first for basic recipes. It has a lot of homey favorites that are a great jumping-off point for more creative endeavors.

What is your favorite food blog? Smitten Kitchen. Deb Perelman’s peach butter recipe was so terrific (half as much sugar as in usual preserves) that I’m going to try it with strawberries this year!

What’s your favorite comfort food? Really good mac and cheese.

Do you have a signature dish? It seems to rotate around a lot. But right now, I’m doing a great spelt/tomato/basil salad.

Name 3 things that are always in your refrigerator. Eggs, butter, and whole milk.

Name 3 kitchen gadgets you can’t live without. A good, sharp knife. A corkscrew. And my three cookie scoops. (We make a lot of cookies and cupcakes.)


Chapter Meeting at Vitamix

By Shara Foldi  |  Photos by Beth Segal

For the June 2012 meeting, Vitamix opened their doors and rich history to Cleveland Dames and guests. Intended to be a store open just for the holiday season last year, the Vitamix Factory Outlet Store in North Olmsted met such success that it has remained open and now plans to stay. Dames enjoyed browsing Vitamix models and recipe books while socializing before the presentation.

 Jodi Berg, President of Vitamix Corporation
President, Jodi Berg engaged us with stories of her family's history, the company's commitment to its guiding principles, and customer loyalty. In business 91 years, Vitamix has spanned four generations, with innovations in both product and marketing techniques spurring its growth. It began with a vision of eating a healthier, plant-based diet, and making it taste delicious. Jodi told us such inspiring stories, from the letter her grandmother wrote to a customer which the customer later sent to Vitamix as testimonial to the values that started the company, to the 70 year old Chinese lady that hugged her so vigorously going on and on in Chinese. Translated, the story told the tale of a woman with cancer who resolved to fight it with diet, but could not find a way to eat enough greens, and enthusiastically credits Vitamix and greens with saving her life. She's still alive today!

Becky Prince demonstrating the Vitamix 5200
Becky Prince, Direct Response Sales Manager, demonstrated the Vitamix 5200 for us and made several recipes for us to try, including a minestrone soup, fresh salsa, hummus, a green smoothie, and a strawberry-lime iced treat for dessert. You could taste the freshness and healthiness in every single one.

The meeting wrapped up with a delectable dinner of vegetarian lasagna, fruit salad, and assorted appetizers, all graciously donated by Vitamix. In fact, all money from the event went directly into the Les Dames d'Escoffier bank account. So a very big THANK YOU to Vitamix for everything!


Cleveland Chapter Gets National Publicity

The Cleveland chapter is featured not once, but twice in the Spring 2012 Les Dames d'Escoffier International Quarterly!

In the article "Cleveland Dames Get Connected Through a New Chapter Blog" Susan Slack highlights our new chapter blog, and other social media adventures. She uses Cleveland's website and blog (designed by Dame Shara Foldi of Unity Design, Inc.) as an example of what other chapters could do to become more connected to each other. Not to pat ourselves on the back, but Way to Go Social Media Committee! As we are sometimes known to say, "We rock!" Check out page 21 of your Spring 2012 Quarterly to read up.

Another article on page 6 spotlights Dame Crickett Karson's career and background as Third Vice President on the Board of Directors of the national organization. It's accompanied by a gorgeous photo of Crickett. Bravo!


Cleveland Dames About Town

Lots of food related activities this past weekend! Here are a few photos of Dames about town.

Dame Elaine Cicora was one of three judges (including Kenny Crumpton from Fox 8 and Joe Crea from the Plain Dealer) judging the Maker's Mark Challenge at the fourth annual Chef Jam at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame on June 10, 2012. Sampling nine dishes, both savory and sweet, they chose Momocho as the winner.

Dames Linda Fletcher and Shara Foldi visited with Karl Wente, Fifth Generation Winemaker from Wente Vineyards, and big supporter of Les Dames d'Escoffier. Karl was in town for an achievement award and stopped in at Akron's West Point Market for a wine tasting and bottle signing on June 10, 2012. They enjoyed tasting two whites and two reds, including the estate's limited production showcase wine The Nth Degree.


Dame du Jour: Jennifer Brush

By Maria Isabella, Interview by Bev Shaffer

Jennifer Brush is not one to sit still. She owns The Pastry Brush, a certified and registered home bakery in Chardon, Ohio. She teaches bread and gluten-free classes. She bakes for private clients. She teaches at the Western Reserve School of Cooking in Hudson. She cooks with her husband. And she bakes with her eight-year-old daughter. Whew!
“I love to cook and I love to learn,” says Jennifer. “But most importantly, I like for my family to be healthy.
“Being able to cook with locally sourced products whenever possible means that we don’t eat preservatives, dyes, or things that are not found in nature! I think it’s worth the time it takes to make meals from scratch and to pass that on to my daughter. In fact, it’s something the entire family can do together.”
With a bachelor’s degree in linguistics, a master’s in speech language pathology, a professional pastry diploma, certification as a specialist of wine, and advanced certification in wine and spirits, Jennifer brings a broad wealth of knowledge to her current roles. But there was actually a time when things were much simpler.
“My father’s family was from Greece, and they made wonderful bread, always shaped in a braid with sesame seeds sprinkled on top. The crust was thin and golden brown, the inside was soft and chewy, and it tasted sweet from a spice called Mahlab (ground sour cherry pits).
“I would watch my paternal grandmother make the dough by first placing a large black pot on the kitchen floor and emptying 10 pounds of flour into it! She never referred to any written recipe. I have now learned her recipe, tweaked it to make it my own, and bake it weekly with my daughter!”
While studying in Paris as a college student, Jennifer also learned to love French pastries. Which might explain why her favorite comfort food today is dark chocolate and red wine. But the most unusual thing she’s ever eaten? “Sweetbreads—and I don’t mean the yeasty kind!” she says with a laugh.
As for which chef (living or deceased) she would want to invite over, that’s simple. “I would love to invite Julia Child over for a summer picnic and sit outside in my garden while sipping wine together. I actually have a ‘Julia Child’ rose in one of my gardens!”
Learn more about Jennifer as she shares some fun and interesting insights about herself.
What food always reminds you of home? For me, the ultimate home-cooked meal is Greek-style roasted leg of lamb with orzo (baked right in the roasting pan so all of the meat juices drip on it).

Any favorite indulgences? I love pâté de foie gras on crusty French bread with a medium-bodied red wine.

How do you like to entertain? With wine and bread, and simple food that can be all placed on a platter in the middle of the table so everyone can have a bit of this and a bit of that. Usually I make something rich and decadent for dessert so all one needs is a “little sliver.” I do enjoy the art and challenge of food and wine pairing. I like to find wines that no one has tried before.

Do you have a signature dish? Every year my husband asks for carrot cake with cream cheese/sour cream frosting for his birthday. I put raisins in it that I’ve soaked in rum for a week. It took me about 5 years to tweak the recipe, but now it’s perfect. I made it for a restaurant each week for a few years, and it was a favorite. I have never given away the recipe to anyone.

What’s your go-to, quick-and-easy dinner? Sesame peanut butter noodles with pea pods.

What’s your favorite dessert to prepare? Hmm, that’s a hard one. Probably my two favorites are chocolate espresso buttermilk cake and almond cake with sour cherries.

What’s one ingredient you can’t live without? Eggs. They are so versatile. You can make sweet or savory dishes or an entire meal with eggs. I like to buy organic, cage-free, locally raised eggs.

Name 3 things that are always in your refrigerator. Two kinds of yeast, eggs, and bittersweet dark chocolate.

Name 3 gadgets you can’t live without. A Globe 10-quart mixer, offset spatula, and sharp chef knife.

What would people be surprised to find in your kitchen? Store-bought cookies! I have never been much of a cookie maker, so I let my daughter pick out cookies at the grocery store.


Dame du Jour: Bev Shaffer

by Maria Isabella, Interview by Jennifer Brush
Bev Shaffer, the current president of the Cleveland chapter of Les Dames d’Escoffier, has it rough. She gets to develop recipes and play with world-class blenders all day long, and then go home and enjoy a glass of wine all night long while working on her next cookbook (her sixth!)…which is all about chocolate.
“Each year is a new adventure for me,” says Bev, who brings 20+ years’ experience to her role as a chef and recipe development specialist for Vitamix at their world headquarters. “I love the fact that I can enjoy my job and life each and every day.”
As an afterthought, she also confesses that she particularly loves the diversity of food as well, which probably stemmed from when she was young. “I still remember picking up Italian bread still warm from the bakery to go with our pot of Hungarian soup with homemade noodles simmering at home,” reminisces Bev. “Then after dinner, my dad would take me to get a coffee ice cream cone with chocolate jimmies. The best!”
She says her mom and aunts influenced her love of food the most, which carries over into the way she entertains today, be it a casual brunch for four or an outdoor dinner for a crowd.
When asked what advice she would give someone just starting out in a culinary career, she offers, “Explore, develop a spectacular work ethic, don’t be too sensitive, and don’t expect your own TV show after just one year of working as a chef. It’s not all about the recognition.”
Bev first heard about LDEI from Julia Child and has been a member since the inception of the Cleveland chapter.  What does she enjoy most about being a member? “The diversity of our members,” she answers without a moment’s hesitation.
Learn more about Bev as she shares some fun and interesting insights about herself.
Of all the places you’ve traveled, where did you have the best food? It’s a toss-up between barbecued stingray in Singapore at a food stand and baked bread fresh from a cave oven that a chef showed me how to make in Kenya, Africa.

What’s your favorite restaurant and what do you usually order there? There are so many great ones, it’s difficult to single out just one…but right up there is Flying Fig and Fahrenheit. I love their apps!

What’s the most unusual thing you’ve ever eaten? Zebra.

What’s your favorite comfort food? Twizzlers!

Any favorite indulgences? Whole fruit margaritas with homemade guac and salsa.

What’s your favorite snack? Roasted red pepper hummus.

What’s your go-to, quick-and-easy dinner? Salmon marinated in soy sauce and a unique honey, pan seared and finished in the oven, served with a very large salad.

What’s one ingredient you can’t live without? Chocolate.

Name 3 things that are always in your refrigerator. Organic Valley unsalted butter (an homage to Julia), avocado, and sparkling water.

Name 3 gadgets you can’t live without. Vitamix blender, microplane, and a very sharp paring knife.

Wine, Cheese and Chocolate! The Best of Ohio

By Shara Foldi

What a night! Thursday, April 26 the Cleveland chapter of Les Dames d'Escoffier had its annual fundraiser, and as would be expected, it was rather tasty!

Four wineries, four cheesemakers, and four chocolatiers participated (listed below) and brought delightful, diverse samples for the 65 or so guests to taste and enjoy. The event was held at the beautiful Trevarrow Showroom in Parma, which made attendees eager to re-do their home kitchens! Guests circulated though five gorgeous kitchens, to taste some of the best wine, cheese and chocolate Ohio has to offer.

Ferrante Winery
Firelands Winery
Harpersfield Winery
South River Winery

Canal Junction Farmstead Cheese
Kokoborrego Creamery
Lake Erie Creamery
Mackenzie Creamery

Coquette Patisserie
Emerald Necklace Inn & Tea Room
Pomona Chocolates
What's For Dessert?

Summed up by Programming Chair, Carol Hacker, "Attendees loved the opportunity to sample wonderful wines, cheeses and chocolates from independent local producers. The exposure benefits both sides and supports the link between farm and table. A delicious learning experience - what could be better?"

All event pictures are posted on our facebook page - enjoy!


Dame du Jour: Candice Berthold

by Maria Isabella, Interview by Vicki Todd-Smith

Candice Berthold is a degreed microbiologist by education…a sales and marketing professional by experience… and an entrepreneur by choiceNot to mention she’s also currently pursuing certification as a health and wellness coach. How did she end up where she is today? “I followed my passion,” explains Candice. “It certainly wasn’t planned!”
Candice opened her first Mediterranean retail store, playfully called The Olive and the Grape, in Mentor in 2005. She has grown that concept to now include two more locations: one at the West Side Market and one in Cleveland’s Kamm’s Corners neighborhood on the West Side. Not only has she found success through growth, she’s also been recognized for her quality products (winning the “Best Sea Salts of Cleveland” award from Cleveland magazine in 2010, for example).
Prior to entering the retail world, Candice taught wine sensory classes and hosted a radio show on wine — which is a credit to all that her mother and maternal grandmother taught her. “They were wonderful mentors to me,” says Candice, “both as great cooks and awesome hostesses. I got my flair for entertaining from them.”
When asked to describe her perfect meal, she quickly responds, “There is no perfect meal. There are countless enjoyable meals. I like variety. In fact, people know me for preparing healthy yet delicious food.”
Candice was first introduced to LDEI through an invitation to be a guest speaker at a meeting in May 2010. She gave a presentation on sea salts and was so impressed that two months later she applied for membership. Today, Candice serves as chapter vice president.
What does she enjoy most about being a member?  Her fellow Dames and the opportunity to expand her knowledge.
Learn more about Candice as she shares some fun and interesting insights about herself.
Of all the places you’ve traveled, where did you have the best food? I have enjoyed many excellent meals while traveling. My recent favorites, though, are in California. Everything tastes so fresh! And, of course, the wine is also excellent. Which reminds me of my recent trip to Chateau Montelana in Napa Valley. This was the winery that won the Chardonnay competition in the legendary Judgment of Paris tasting. I joined their wine club and now have two bottles sent to me every three months, plus I have options on their reserves as well!

What is your favorite cookbook? I generally don’t follow recipes. I like to be creative. But my favorite kitchen books that provide me with both knowledge and creativity include Italian Cooking Encyclopedia, Cooking with the Bible: Recipes for Biblical Meals, The Flavor Bible, and Molecular Gastronomy.

What’s your favorite comfort food? Linguini with Sardinian or Sicilian olive oil, herbs, fresh tomato, fresh spinach, and good Parmesan cheese.

Any favorite indulgences? Red wine and dark chocolate.

What’s your favorite snack? Sardinian music bread and wine, or homemade hummus and pita chips.

What’s your favorite dessert to prepare? I like all types of desserts. My current favorite is angel food or pound cake with a chocolate raspberry filling, drizzled with red raspberry (or chocolate) balsamic vinegar, garnished with fresh raspberries, and dusted with cocoa and powdered sugar.

What’s the biggest cooking mistake you’ve ever made? I once dropped a whole serving platter of Chicken Divan right as my guests were arriving! Luckily I had plenty of “extras” in the fridge. I extended the appetizers to a lengthy hour while I prepared a second batch of Chicken Divan.

What’s one ingredient you can’t live without? Premium olive oil. And good aged balsamic vinegar, too.

Name 3 kitchen gadgets you can’t live without. Silicon spatula, microplane zester, and garlic press.

What would people be surprised to find in your kitchen? At least 8 bottles of opened olive oil (all from different countries). But then again, if you knew my business, that wouldn’t be a surprise at all.


Dame du Jour: Vicki Todd-Smith

By Maria Isabella, Interview by Candice Berthold

Vicki Todd-Smith
Vicki Todd-Smith (who is currently the executive chef of Pneumatic Scale Angelus and an instructor at Gervasi Cucina) confesses that over 30 years ago she used to be bored at her day job. That’s when she decided to go to night culinary school just for fun. As it turns out, she suddenly discovered her one true, pure passion! So, she switched careers and followed a whole new path in life…and now food dominates her every day.
Over the years, armed with degrees from the University of Madrid and Escuela de Cocina Cervantes, plus additional coursework at the University of Florida, University of Florence, and Cordon Bleu, Vicki has created several cooking schools and catering companies in countries throughout the world, including Japan, Singapore, and the Philippines. She also once worked as the director of the prestigious Raffles Hotel Culinary Academy. Other past positions include food and beverage manager/senior executive chef of Kent State University Conference Center, catering director of Mustard Seed Market in Solon, and executive chef of Jones Day law firm. 
However, when asked what her proudest professional accomplishment to date is, she will tell you without a moment’s hesitation that it’s the cookbook she self-published for her two children. “They’re after me for volume two now!” she laughs.
Admittedly, Vicki’s love of food did start at a very young age, as supported by a little-known fact: She asked Santa for caviar when she was only five. No lie. And she unabashedly credits her father for that. “My father was the best hobbyist chef I have ever known,” she declares. “He sowed the seed for me.”  To this day, Cuban lechon (slow-roasted pork with mojo) reminds her of home, as does Cuban flan.
When pressed to name her perfect meal, she insists there is no such thing as just one. “Each meal that’s prepared with love and passion and zest is perfect in and of itself,” she says. But one thing she will admit is that her all-time favorite restaurant in the States is The Inn at Little Washington in Virginia. Why? “It’s dining with layers of utter ecstasy,” she smiles.
Fellow Dame Jennifer Wolfe Webb introduced Vicki to LDEI. What does she enjoy most about being a member?  Meeting other women who share her passion for food and wine.
Learn more about Vicki as she shares some fun and interesting insights about herself.
What’s the most unusual thing you’ve ever eaten? Fish testicles at a kaiseki ryori dinner in Tokyo.

Which one chef (living or deceased) would you want to invite over for dinner and what would you serve? Undoubtedly, Julia Child. I would serve her Cuban comfort food.

What is your favorite cookbook? Mastering the Art of French Cooking (both volumes) and Pacific Flavors by Hugh Carpenter.

What’s your favorite comfort food? Fried ripe plantains.

Any favorite indulgences? French cheese made with unpasteurized milk (Camembert comes to mind first) and salmon roe.

Do you have a signature dish? Salmon Carlos, named after my father, and Tandoori Chicken Bites with Orange Chutney Aioli.

What’s your go-to, quick-and-easy dinner? My favorite salad: baby greens, avocado, shaved Parmigiano Reggiano, homemade slow-roasted tomatoes (which are always in my fridge), grilled salmon, extra-virgin olive oil, and pomegranate balsamic.

What’s the biggest cooking mistake you’ve ever made? I forgot to sear the filets before making Beef Wellington. What a bloody mess!

What’s one ingredient you can’t live without? Balsamic vinegar.

What would people be surprised to find in your kitchen? Tamarind paste.


Pasta Making Class with Stefanie Paganini & Chapter Meeting

By Elaine Cicora

Thirteen lean and hungry members of the Cleveland Chapter of LDEI made their way to Chesterland on March 7. Their destination: the International Culinary Arts and Sciences Institute. There we were greeted by Dame Stefanie Paganini, who provided a brief tour of the lovely facility that her mother, Loretta Paganini, founded in 2005 as the professional arm to her popular cooking school.

Dame Candice Berthold lead us in a brief business meeting (is 20 minutes a new record?), during which we enjoyed wine and some delicious avocado hummus made by the ICASI prep kitchen. Then it was time to roll up our sleeves, tie on our aprons, and head into the pastry kitchen where we were soon up to our elbows in fresh pasta dough.

Stefanie revealed to us the secrets of striped tri-color pasta –  white (plain), green (spinach), and red (red pepper) – and set us free in teams of two to craft bowties and pansotti, a stuffed tortellini-like pasta whose name, significantly enough, means "pot belly!" The interactive task not only elicited our creativity (pasta dough patterns ranged from tidy stripes, to argyles, to wavy psychedelic stripes), but also plenty of laughter and good-natured chatter.

(Of course, what happens in the kitchen stays in the kitchen. But it really is amazing what you can learn about someone when you're cooking together!)

Stefanie topped the bowties with a chunky salsa al pomodoro. The ricotta-and-prosciutto-stuffed pansotti were finished in a delightful almond pesto.

Back in the dining room, we feasted family-style on overflowing bowls of both types of pastas – it all tasted wonderful! – and then finished our meal with homemade apricot almond biscotti and coffee.

Before we knew it, it was 9 p.m. and time to adjourn. We headed out into the springlike evening with well-earned big bellies of our own, along with recipes for future use and warmest thanks to Stephanie Paganini for one of the best-tasting programs in memory.