Among the numerous ways the pandemic has shaken Americans is food insecurity, which has skyrocketed nationwide alongside record unemployment. With nearly one in eight households lacking sufficient food in the pandemic economy, food pantries are experiencing unprecedented demands in their communities, and the Hudson Valley is no exception.
A fundraiser to combat hunger in the Hudson Valley, “Cooking for a Cause” is a five-part virtual cooking instruction series featuring top chefs from the Hudson Valley. The classes, which started on January 12, will take place on Zoom at 6pm every Tuesday during January and February. Each class will feature a different local celebrity chef teaching home cooks how to prepare one of their signature dishes. Tickets, which can be purchased for any of the classes, are $50 each, with 100 percent of net proceeds going to the chef’s chosen food security nonprofit. Once you register online, you will receive a shopping list of the ingredients needed for the class.
Chef Rebecca Carucci is the owner of Powered by Plants Consulting, where she works with clients who come to her for cooking lessons, recipe development, and meal planning. She is also the food consultant for Vegan Wines and specializes in pairing her plant-based recipes with a variety of wines. Carucci’s class on January 12 focused on preparing Mexican-style stuffed sweet potatoes chocked full of Omega 3, protein, iron, and B12 vitamins. Carucci’s special guest for the night was Frances Gonzales, the founder and president of Vegan Wines. The proceeds from her class went to Dutchess Outreach.
Chef Agnes Devereux’s class on January 19 will show you how to make pan-seared Hudson Valley Steelhead Trout, raised sustainably in Hudson, with escargot butter and butternut squash with onions, sage, and grapes. For many years, Devereux delighted local diners with traditional hearty European dishes at her now-closed New Paltz restaurant the Village Tea Room, cooking wholesome dishes from scratch with seasonal, locally sourced ingredients. Slow Food advocate and Hudson Valley Restaurant Week board member, Devereux also won a 2020 Chronogrammy for “Best Caterer in the Hudson Valley.” The proceeds from Devereux’s class will go to People’s Place thrift store and food pantry.
While home-cooking has boomed during the pandemic, more time in the kitchen also leads to more leftovers in the fridge. Chef Leslie Lampert’s class on January 26 will guide you to get creative and make yummy meal options out of the scraps in your refrigerator. As the founder of Ladle of Love, Love On The Run Catering, and MarketLove, Lampert is an active community supporter and climate protector. She’s also a member of the Board of Directors for The United Way of Westchester/Putnam and on the Foundation Board of Westchester Medical Center. In her class, you will learn how to make meals out of the contents in your pantry and refrigerator in a whole new way, plus how to store food for maximum longevity. The proceeds from her class will go to Feeding Westchester.
Chef Denis Whitton’s class on February 2 will show you how to prepare a classic coq au vin with mixed vegetables and mashed potatoes. He has worked in some of the best New York City restaurants cooking French cuisine, using farm to table ingredients and wild game. The seasoned restaurateur spent ten years as a partner and executive chef at Harvest Bistro in New Jersey and, recently, opened Autumn—a fine dining French cuisine restaurant in Sparkill. He is also now the owner of Pier 701 in Piermont. For his class, wine expert Kat Cardinale will help you find the perfect wine for the dish. The proceeds from Whitton’s class will go to Meals on Wheels.
Chef Shelley Boris’s class on February 9 will teach you how to cook perfect risotto with basic techniques to get it right every time. Her and her son will also talk about the different types of risotto you can make with seasonal and local ingredients for every occasion. In addition, you will learn how to use leftover risotto to make arancini—a fun and tasty side dish or snack. Boris has cooked for years as a professional chef and is a partner, creative director, and executive chef at Fresh Company and Dolly’s Restaurant in Garrison. Influenced by diversity and regional cooking styles around the world, she has cooked for international figures from the Dalai Lama to Mikhail Gorbachev. In 2014, Boris published a cookbook and has also written for numerous publications such as The New York Times and Food & Wine.The proceeds from Boris’s class will go to Second Chance Foods.
Register online for Cooking for a Cause.