Last Friday I attended a meeting of the Metropolitan Mayors Caucus in Chicago, and Mayor Rahm Emmanuel was one of our speakers. I noticed that he travels with a media representative and photographer, which is thankfully not a part of my everyday job! I did, however have a fun opportunity to be filmed last summer during Long Grove’s Strawberry Fest as part of the Food Network show, “Eating America.”
I truly never thought my degree in Foods/Nutrition Dietetics would come in handy in my role as Village President, until I received an email from a Hollywood producer. They were interested in featuring our Strawberry Festival as one of eight unique American food festivals in their new series, to be hosted by actor Anthony Anderson, star of TV’s “Blackish.” Would I be interested in being a judge of the culinary contest? It was a tough job assignment, but I guess somebody needed to do it!
Spending the afternoon with a film crew from Los Angeles was surprisingly easy. They were very complimentary of our Village and the people they had met. I heard time and again that they were delighted that “everyone is so friendly, cooperative, helpful, and most importantly, on time.” I was especially impressed with the camaraderie I saw exhibited by our local chefs and restauranteurs. In a spirit of friendly competition, they really rose to the challenge of creating unique dishes featuring strawberries as a key ingredient. Providing expertise to the judging was the executive chef from the acclaimed Chicago restaurant TRU, and the head of the Chicago Food Bloggers. We were tasked with picking an overall winner in items as diverse as Strawberry Ricotta Ravioli, Strawberry-Watercress Soup, and Strawberry Macaroons. It was a delicious but difficult decision! The trophy for the winning dish went to Adam Ullrich from the Village Tavern for his Shaved Beef Sandwich with Strawberry Salsa.
The series debuted in August of last year, and our Long Grove episode aired in early September. It was a kick to watch and the show really showcased Long Grove in a great way. This kind of media exposure is priceless and was a lucky break for our Village. My screen time amounted to a few seconds here and there, but it created one of the most memorable experiences so far in holding this office. And if the Food Network comes calling again for Apple Fest…I am ready and willing!