Chicago Chefs Cook and Mariano’s Collaborate on a New Cookbook

Must read

Even before readers open the first page of the new Chicago Chefs CookBook they’ll have a good idea of those behind it. With postage-stamp-size photos of some 46 local chefs on its cover, it communicates the importance of the tight-knit community who contributed to it and who have donated their time and talents over the last two years to the humanitarian causes championed by the non-profit organization Chicago Chefs Cook.

Created in partnership with grocery store chain Mariano’s, the 92-page magazine-style cookbook features 48 recipes from chefs such as Sarah Grueneberg (Monteverde), Zach Engel (Galit), Carrie Nahabedian, (Brindille), Margaret Pak (Thattu), Kevin Hickey (The Duck Inn), and Joe Flamm (Rose Mary, BLVD Steakhouse). Color photos of the chefs and their dishes by Timothy Musho can be found throughout the cookbook, which will be available at all 44 Mariano’s starting on Monday, May 13. All proceeds from the cookbook will benefit Chi-Care, a local non-profit that helps feed the unhoused. They’ve been particularly active in helping the migrant community.

Mariano’s is hosting a pre-launch event on Saturday, May 11 at its Lakeview location at 3030 N. Broadway. Chefs will sign autographed copies of the book and reps from Chi-Care will be present.

Divided into five sections — Breakfast + Brunch, Snacks + Sides, Soups + Salads, Dinners, Desserts — the book features recipes intended not to intimidate novices, ranging from veggie breakfast strata from chef Paul Virant of Vistro Prime, Gaijin, and Petite Vi, to shrimp creole from chef Brian Jupiter of Frontier and Ina Mae’s Tavern. There’s also a Mayan barbecue cauliflower from chef Devon Quinn of Eden and bostock from Greg Wade of Public Quality Bread.

“We wanted the recipes to be easy enough for the home chef, yet be somewhat aspirational,” says Amanda Puck, for former Check, Please! host and Mariano’s director of strategic brand development. “Each recipe truly represents the chefs and the style of cooking in their restaurants.”

While Chicago isn’t lacking when it comes to chef-driven charitable organizations, whether it’s established ones like Rick Bayless’s Frontera Farmer Foundation and Pilot Light (Paul Kahan, Jason Hammel, Matthias Merges, Justin Large) or newcomers like Erick Williams’ Virtue Leadership Development Program, Chicago Chefs Cook has excelled at mobilizing chefs in real-time to participate in food-forward fundraising events.

In February 2022, after seeing the horrors in Ukraine after the Russian invasion, Piccolo Sogno’s Tony Priolo quickly rallied 70 fellow chefs for a benefit at Navy Pier a few weeks later. Mariano’s also said yes to Priolo’s call for help.

Dubbed Chicago Chefs Cook for Ukraine, the event became the first event for the non-profit organization, which has since held fundraisers for those affected by the 2022 hurricane in Puerto Rico and Turkey’s major earthquake in 2023, among others. (Priolo, along with co-founder Jodi Fyfe of Paramount Group, has since retired from the group. A recipe for his restaurant’s signature ravioli Piccolo Sogno is included in the cookbook.)

For its next fundraising project, the group stuck closer to home with its choice of Chi-Care to be the recipient of proceeds from the cookbook.

“Chicago Chefs Cook has a global reach but as our name indicates, our soul and mission are deeply rooted in the people and causes unique to Chicago,” says Prairie Grass’ Sarah Stegner, another Chicago Chefs Cook co-founder who now serves as a chef liaison for the group. “This city is navigating a host of complex challenges, one of which is the rising population of those experiencing homelessness. We viewed this project as an opportunity to address this issue head-on with Chi-Care and do our part to provide basic human needs to those who need it most.”

Mariano’s is no stranger to collaborating on cookbooks, having created one with the Illinois Restaurant Association in 2020 that benefitted the Illinois Restaurant Association Educational Foundation, helping restaurant associates affected by the pandemic.

“Mariano’s is committed to fighting hunger in the communities we serve,” Puck says. “We have worked with Chicago Chefs Cook for quite some time and thought partnering on this project would be a great way to raise money for a local non-profit.”

Created in March 2020 when three friends (Farhan Ahmed, Meraj Alam, and Asik Iqbal) took it upon themselves to pass out packaged hot meals to homeless individuals they met while driving around the city, Chi-Care now runs five fleets of buses around the city every weekend to feed those in need. Since the start, more than 800,000 meals have been served.

“We are extremely fortunate that the 46 Chefs featured in the cookbook raised their hands to represent the Chicago Chef community for this project,” says Stegner. “Each has participated in a humanitarian event or fundraiser that our organization has spearheaded, and each continues to do so much good in Chicago year-round.”

Chicago Chefs CookBook will be available at all 44 Mariano’s locations starting on Monday, May 13. The book costs $6.99 through August and will then revert to its standard price of $9.99 with proceeds going to Chi-Care.

More articles

Latest article