Dame du Jour: Linda Fletcher

By Maria Isabella, Interview by Terry Frick

This beautiful painting was created by
Lissa Bockrath, Linda's favorite Cleveland artist.
There are two loves in Linda Fletcher’s life: ballet and food/wine. And not necessarily in that order.
Linda is, in fact, a classically trained ballerina. She is a prodigy of Canada’s National Ballet School, which is located in Toronto and is one of the most renowned ballet schools in the world. After graduation, she was invited to join The National Ballet Company and was a soloist for many years.
Although she loves to dance, she also loves food and wine just as much. Why is that? “It makes people happy,” she says simply.
Growing up, Linda had an intense interest in all things food and wine. Even as a young girl, she would regularly scour the food section of her local newspaper – so much so that, one year, her dad gave her a subscription to Gourmet magazine as a gift. There’s no denying she truly had an early appreciation for the culinary arts. And it continues to this day.
“I enjoy learning about wine from all over the world and am happy to acquire new information every time I visit a wine store,” says Linda. “I also want to share that knowledge with others. For the past 18 years, I’ve been teaching people/customers about new wines, the details of their specific cultures, and the perfect food to enjoy with them.”
Today, as a highly sought-after consultant for wine and special events, Linda still enjoys the role food and wine play in her life. “It’s the BEST part!” she says, beaming.
As to how she heard of LDEI, she says it was through “a guy friend.” And what does she enjoy most about being a Dame? “Sharing with others and supporting new people,” Linda admits with a smile.
Learn more about Linda as she shares some fun and interesting insights about herself.
What food always reminds you of home? My dad always made pancakes, so that reminds me of home.

What’s the most unusual thing you’ve ever eaten? Clam soup at The Greenhouse Tavern. It had foie gras in it!

Which one chef would you want to invite over for dinner and what would you serve? David Shalleck, chef/founder of VOLOCHEF Culinary Solutions and co-author of Mediterranean Summer. I would create a new dish with inspiration from his onion pulp secret!

What is your favorite cookbook? The Umberto Menghi Cookbook.

What’s your favorite comfort food? Ice cream.

Any favorite indulgences? Dark chocolate.

How do you like to entertain? Trying new recipes for my friends to experience.

Do you have a signature dish? Paella.

What’s your favorite dessert to prepare? Croquembouche.

What would people be surprised to find in your kitchen? Fifteen pots!


Dishing with Dames at The West Side Market

By Shara Bohach

Sold Out! Our 2013 Fundraiser, Dishing with Dames at The West Side Market was a great success. Over 140 gathered at Market Garden Brewery last night to hear stories of obstacles, inspirations and long, long, long days of work as told by lady vendors from this historic Cleveland landmark. We heard from Irene Dever, founder of Irene Dever Dairy (a stand that has been in operation for over 35 years), Judy Khouri of Judy’s Oasis, and Emma Beno of The Pork Chop Shop. We heard the story of a lady vendor who took a break to get married, paraded around the market in a pickle cart as a "reception", and then got promptly back to work! This lively discussion was moderated by Dame Marilou Suszko and Laura Taxel, authors of Cleveland's West Side Market: 100 Years and Still Cooking. The authors signed copies of their book for guests after the presentation.

Guests enjoyed small dishes featuring prepared foods and artisan products from women-owned stands at the Market. These included Beer Brat Sliders (The Pork Chop Shop), Deviled Eggs (Irene Dever Dairy), Hummus, Baba Ghannouj, and Pita (Judy’s Oasis), Mozzarella Skewers and Roasted Asparagus Salad (The Basketeria, and The Olive & The Grape), Pizza Bagels and Craft Italian Ices (Frickaccio’s Pizza Market), Assorted Cannoli (Theresa’s Bakery), and Cupcake Truffles and Popcorn (Campbell's Sweets Factory). And we cannot forget the "Shrub!" Each guest was treated to a rum cocktail created specially for the event: Dames’ Portside Rum Shrub Cocktail with Aged White Balsamic Vinegar from The Olive & The Grape.

Some fantastic prizes were raffled off to lucky winners, including restaurant gift certificates, books, baskets of culinary delights, tours and classes. All were donated by our generous members and friends. Brewer Jennifer Hermann conducted tours of the Market Garden Brew House for those interested.

The numbers are still coming in, but the fundraiser generated terrific funds which will be granted via our Green Tables initiative later this summer. Thank you to all who came, and especially those who donated their time, sponsorship, and raffle prizes.

See many more photos from the evening on our facebook page.