8th annual food & wine celebration to benefit veggie u (plus your chance to go)

Remember February? I know, I know – the month of February is the last thing Clevelanders want to think about in summer. But I remember this past February well. And so do a bunch of local 4th graders along with their teachers. And I’m sure there’s that one lucky reader who is still grinning from ear to ear thinking about her lucky streak that month and all the good eats that came with it.

So what happened in February you ask? How quickly you forget. That’s when Cleveland Foodie readers and local chefs came together and saved the Veggie U program within Cleveland schools by raisising over $3,800. Have I mentioned that I hands-down have the best readers in town?

You now have another chance to help the greater Veggie U program which educates 4th graders on the importance of making wise food choices and understanding where their food comes from. The 2010 Food and Wine Celebration to benefit the Veggie U children’s program will take place on July 17. This annual gathering features gourmet cuisine prepared by chefs from all over the country plus wines from top vineyards, cooking demos and a silent auction.

The event takes place on the absolutely beautiful grounds of The Culinary Vegetable Institute. Demonstrations and participating chefs include Food & Wine Best New Chef Jonathon Sawyer, James Beard winner Chef Martha Foose and former Top Chef contestants, Chefs Lee Anne Wong and Dave Martin. Emceeing the benefit is TV host and award-winning chef, Bob Waggoner.

Tickets are on sale now. The great folks at Veggie U gave me two tickets to give away to one lucky reader, valued at $175 each. If you would like to be entered for a chance to win via random.org, please leave a comment to this post between now and Friday, July 2nd telling us what your favorite meal was from your childhood (mine was my gram’s spaghetti and meatballs – she made the best sauce and always made this for me whenever I was craving it, even when I’d visit during college. It always tasted the exact same – simply perfect).

Speaking of the local 4th graders we helped, Barb Jones, assistant director of Veggie U (and farmer Lee’s mom), shared the following from some participating teachers:  When asked what part of the Veggie U Science program she liked best, one fourth-grade teacher said, “The abundance of materials and resources included in each unit. It was very nice to have the ability for the students to have real examples in the classroom.”

Another said, “The worm farm was a favorite part for my kids, they also loved planting and watching the plants grow”. “The kids loved trying some vegetables for the first time.”

The Veggie U program was delivered to 187 Cleveland 4th grade classrooms this spring at a cost of $200 per classroom. The folks who helped via Cleveland Foodie can feel great about helping these kids, she added.

By the way, if you do plan to attend the 8th annual Food and Wine Celebration (and I hope you do – we’ll be there!), be sure to check out the site for special rates on accommodations if you plan to stay overnight. The CVI is located in Milan, which is near Cedar Point.

Veggie U Fun Facts

  • Veggie U is currently in 24 states and 1,800 classrooms
  • Veggie U was born in the spring of 2003 and for the following 18 months, a group of dedicated educators and nutritionists donated their time and talents to create a curriculum which meets the benchmarks of the 4th grade national science standards set forth by the No Child Left Behind Initiative
  • The mission of Veggie U is to promote the well-being of children through a healthy lifestyle
  • Veggie U is dedicated to the creation and distribution of curricula nationally with a focus on making wise food choices, combating adolescent and juvenile disease and attaining and understanding of sustainable agriculture
  • For every one child in the program, an estimated 12 additional people are reached with the message
  • Our vision is to place the Earth to Table program in every one of the 93,000 4th grade classrooms in the nation


  1. Posted June 26, 2010 at 3:04 pm | Permalink

    In the summer my favorite meal from childhood was shish kabobs and fried rice. In fact, I’ve put in a request for them while I’m visiting my family over the 4th of July weekend.

  2. Bear
    Posted June 26, 2010 at 3:44 pm | Permalink

    My mom made veal Parmesan. I don’t know what made it so amazingly good… it was veal patties, jar from a can, the cheese wasn’t especially great on its own. But put them together and WOW… I could eat it any day. My mouth is watering right now….

  3. Amy Bresnahan
    Posted June 26, 2010 at 7:07 pm | Permalink

    I have two favorite “dishes” from childhood, one made by my mother and one by my father.

    My mother made the most delicious meatloaf, with lamb and beef, shredded onion and carrot…..The absolute best comfort food w/her homemade “BBQ” sauce, made from ketchup, brown sugar and dried mustard. SImple and amazing.

    My father would make us dinner when my mom was out, it was almost always “breakfast for dinner” or peanut butter, banana and marshmallow fluff sandwiches. MMMMMMM…I dare a local chef to make a dessert based on this unsophisticated combo!!

  4. Vanessa
    Posted June 27, 2010 at 7:44 am | Permalink

    my favorite meals included a simple hot ham and cheese sandwich. plain, rolled up in foil, toasted in the oven and then served toasty and oozy. oh my. my other favorite: my great grandmother’s scrambled eggs. its often the simple foods that can never be replicated. nearly decades later and i still have never tasted anything close to hers!

  5. Laura
    Posted June 27, 2010 at 8:38 am | Permalink

    My favorite meal was my father’s “dutch baby” pancakes, which was one of the very few meals he ever cooked at our house.

  6. Peg
    Posted June 27, 2010 at 4:25 pm | Permalink

    My grandmothers chicken soup

  7. Posted June 27, 2010 at 7:04 pm | Permalink

    I’ve been debating this one for days but I guess I’d have to say my favorite was my Mom’s lasagna. Delicious, gooey mess of noodles, cheese, and homemade meat sauce. It’s what I always asked for for my birthday dinner.

  8. Katie
    Posted June 28, 2010 at 8:50 am | Permalink

    broccoli cheese chicken

  9. Posted June 28, 2010 at 8:51 am | Permalink

    My favorite childhood meal was Chinese Food. My mom always invited a bunch of friends over and taught them how to make homemade Chinese. I always thought my mom was the coolest since she taught others how to make something so delicious. I still enjoy following in her footsteps by doing the same thing.

  10. Sean
    Posted June 28, 2010 at 8:53 am | Permalink

    My Mom made the best broccoli, cheese, and chicken casserole. It was incredibly simple and delicious.

    On special occasions, nothing beat my Mom’s chicken vesuvio. The house would smell amazing for about 3 days….

  11. Kristen Wilson
    Posted June 28, 2010 at 9:25 am | Permalink

    My grandma makes a number of Hungarian-based dishes one of which she calls “chicken and fulfa.” I loved this as a kid and still think it’s fantastic, but aside from her reference/recipe I can’t find any history of fulfa. The way she prepares it is by making a dough similar to pasta and then she rolls it out into long ropes almost like a tiny gnocchi. She cuts it the same way and then the little nuggets get dried in the oven. When she’s ready to prepare the meal, the chicken is cooked in a skillet and finished in the oven then the fulfa is reconstituted in the left over chicken drippings/browned bits that have been mixed with stock. The fulfa absorbs most of the liquid and you have a really tasty side to go with the chicken. Anyone out there heard of this or know of another name it might go by?

  12. Elena
    Posted June 28, 2010 at 9:58 am | Permalink

    any seafood dish my dad cooked up on the weekends. he cooks seafood better than any restaurant i’ve ever been to.

  13. Jessica
    Posted June 28, 2010 at 12:36 pm | Permalink

    My mom’s chicken fried rice….also, “her” pierogies, which were really Mrs. T’s pierogies – but my mom sure knew how to dress them up :-)

  14. Emmy
    Posted June 28, 2010 at 1:27 pm | Permalink

    I am a vegetarian now but my favorite meal as a kid used to be my mums hot dogs. She would put the hot dog in a huge roll, saute some onions, grate up sharp cheddar cheese, cook up some bacon, then add it all to the hot dog and toast it up! mmmmmm……….

  15. Andrea Fischer-Immke
    Posted June 28, 2010 at 2:00 pm | Permalink

    My favorite food as a kid was my mom’s pork and dumplings with sauerkraut. Still ask for it today. Love it!

  16. Susan B
    Posted June 28, 2010 at 2:11 pm | Permalink

    As a kiddo, my favorite meal was my mom’s tacos. Although my mom made dinners that surpassed them, tacos were one of only two meals in our house when my brother and I were allowed to have a glass of Coke with dinner instead of milk, thereby catapulting it to the top of the list for both of us (the other was pizza–my mom claimed the thought of either one with milk was disgusting).

  17. Rob F
    Posted June 28, 2010 at 3:17 pm | Permalink

    My favorite childhood meal was any time I got to have breakfast for dinner (brinner!) Who wouldn’t get excited for eggs, bacon/sausage, toast, and potatoes on your plate for the evening meal????

  18. Adam
    Posted June 28, 2010 at 5:42 pm | Permalink

    My favorite meal growing up was my dad’s meatloaf and mashed potatoes. He always made it with a bbq sauce glaze that was a special blend he made, and said the secret ingredient was love.

  19. sushi
    Posted June 28, 2010 at 7:31 pm | Permalink

    my mom makes a mean fried rice…the secret ingredient was ketchup! loved it as a kid

  20. John
    Posted June 28, 2010 at 9:02 pm | Permalink

    I’ve got two:
    My Ukranian grandmother’s potato pierogies with onions simmered in butter.

    Every morning while I was in kindergarten, my other grandmother would make me pancakes, which she topped with butter, homemade raspberry jam from her garden and maple syrup. I would drink a big glass of Lipton sweetened iced tea to go with that.

    I’m not sure how I survived my childhood!!!

  21. rockandroller
    Posted June 29, 2010 at 11:26 am | Permalink

    My favorite childhood meal was my mom’s version of mac and cheese, which she learned from my Greek grandma. Unable to get feta in her tiny town here in America, she learned to substitute cottage cheese and parmesan for a cheap, tasty substitute. Add egg, mix all together, pour into a buttered casserole dish, top with additional parm and bake til it gets a crispy crust, it’s the best comfort food ever.

  22. Stephanie
    Posted June 29, 2010 at 2:21 pm | Permalink

    Ugh. definately a tie. Mom’s chicken paprikash and grandma’s beef and noodles. Although, come to think of it, grandma made a mean pancake that spanned across an entire dinner plate. Needless to say, i was very blessed to have a home cooked meals. Thanks for the chance.

  23. Posted June 29, 2010 at 5:15 pm | Permalink

    My favorite childhood food was my grandma’s cherry turnovers. And, I loved to “help”; I helped my grandpa pick the cherries, and then helped my grandma make the turnovers…I think I ate at least half the cherries I picked, though!

  24. Teri
    Posted June 29, 2010 at 9:09 pm | Permalink

    My favorite meal was and still is my mother’s lasagna. She uses homemade meatballs as one of the layers and it is so delicious!

  25. mike h
    Posted June 30, 2010 at 9:47 pm | Permalink

    Slow cooked steak in a mushroom sauce with mashed potatoes made by my dad. Nothing compared!

  26. Jen
    Posted June 30, 2010 at 9:49 pm | Permalink

    Spaghetti made with prego and ground beef. It was a staple in our house and I loved it, lol:) Also, my grandma made roast beef, homemade strawberry jam and a sweet corn casserole with corn from her garden that we’d argue over!

  27. Emily W
    Posted July 1, 2010 at 8:25 am | Permalink

    I also have two: one is grandma’s and one is mom’s .
    At my grandmother’s we would have salty, crispy pan-fried chicken with buttery mashed potatoes and green beans with bacon and hot rolls with more butter. It was probably the richest meal I would eat all year and I so looked forward to it. Oh, and it was usually followed up by a big slice of pie. :-)
    At my house it was my mom’s pot roast with potatoes and carrots. The house would always smell amazing as it cooked for the whole day. To this day, whenever I come home to visit I can smell that my mom is making it for me the minute I walk into the house.

  28. Brittany
    Posted July 1, 2010 at 11:25 am | Permalink

    Every year for our birthday my sister and I could pick anything we wanted for dinner and my mom would make it. And every year we would both pick noodles and mashed potatos. People thinks it’s weird to serve a starch over another starch, but it was sooo good. Makes me wish it was my birthday right now.

  29. Lindsay Gips
    Posted July 2, 2010 at 9:30 am | Permalink

    My favorite meal was ‘Cheeseburger Pie’ – my mom, as well as my Gram (mom’s mom) both made it. A homemade pie crust was filled with ground beef, green peppers, onion, good red sauce, spices, and topped with gooey mozzarella cheese. Served with salad and some good bread, it is such a comfy meal. Now I make it for my family and friends – a hit every time…and it reminds me of the 2 ladies I love the most!

  30. Posted July 2, 2010 at 9:31 am | Permalink

    It’s almost sad but my favorite meal as a kid was either pizza, *any* kind of pizza, or Kraft Macaroni and Cheese (and it HAD to be Kraft)
    While I can say I have completely broadened my tastes now and have many other favorite meals (my husbands pesto chicken, my stir fry peppers and zucchini), I’ll still eat a perfect pizza over almost anything.

  31. Katie B.
    Posted July 2, 2010 at 9:32 am | Permalink

    My favorite meal growing-up was my moms “Candy”
    Kielbasa with buttered (no-egg yolk) noodles and delicious homemade apple sauce. Her “candied” recipe consisted of a delicious mixture of sweet n’ sour dressing and ketch-up…trust me.. it’s good and worth trying

  32. Barney
    Posted July 2, 2010 at 9:42 am | Permalink

    My favorite meal growing up was easily mom’s City Chicken. She had some kind of spicy mix over top that I still can’t recreate, and is still the only way I enjoy pork (very confused and disappointed in this bacon renaissance of the 2000’s).

  33. Posted July 2, 2010 at 1:52 pm | Permalink

    There were two, decidedly non-foodie dishes. One was bone-in pork chops coated in Oven Fry and baked. I loved pork chop night and make it the same way once in awhile. The other is what we called “oven burgers” and as an adult I now see it was a cheap, cheap dinner to get us through to the next paycheck but as a kid I loved it. My mom would take cheap ground beef and mix in onion soup mix and mustard. Then she’d press the beef mixture onto halved hot dog buns and bake it. Finally, she’d each one with 1/2 a slice of american cheese and broil it until bubbly. I’m guessing it took about $5 to feed all 5 of us with this meal, but us kids loved it!

  34. Tracy W.
    Posted July 2, 2010 at 5:15 pm | Permalink

    My grandmother had quite the farm. I remember as a kid helping her harvest potatoes and doing it gladly knowing that when it was all done, we would be enjoying her famous potato pancakes. They were so good with cinnamon and homemade sour cream. Man I miss her.

  35. Michelle V
    Posted July 2, 2010 at 5:49 pm | Permalink

    Ok – we have a winner. Via Random.org, #40 is the lucky number. Congrats, Beth. I will send you an e-mail shortly. And thanks to everyone for entering – lots of good childhood eats and nice memories, thanks for sharing.