James Beard-winning chef helps prep meals for families in need

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James Beard Award-winning Chef Adam Siegel with volunteers at Kendall College. | Jon Seidel/Sun-Times

They gathered 350 pounds of pasta, roughly 150 pounds of chicken, 100 pounds of veggies and 20 gallons of tomato sauce.

And then, with help from James Beard Award-winning Chef Adam Siegel, 30 Kendall College volunteers turned those ingredients into a pasta salad Sunday that will feed 2,500 people through the Greater Chicago Food Depository.

About half of the vegetables came from the Kendall College garden on the banks of the Chicago River.

“We just decided to take all the vegetables that they had, roast them, season them up really nicely and then make a nice tomato sauce with it, add some pasta,” Siegel said.

Kendall College pastry chef Heidi Hedeker said the school hopes to lure more of its James Beard-winning alums back to Chicago to prepare such meals in the future. This year’s event was in honor of World Food Day.

The volunteers spent the week preparing the ingredients. Siegel, executive chef and managing partner of The Bartolotta Restaurants in Milwaukee, seasoned and mixed the pasta salad. Then, the volunteers portioned and packaged the meals.

Kendall College’s vegetable garden. | Jon Seidel/Sun-Times

Kendall College’s vegetable garden. | Jon Seidel/Sun-Times

About half of the volunteers were Kendall College students, Hedeker said. Some brought members of their family along. Siegel’s 16-year-old son also joined them as Siegel returned to the college he hadn’t visited since his graduation in 1994.

“This is a new campus, so I haven’t seen it,” Siegel said. “I think it’s pretty awesome so far, what I’ve seen.”

While preparing food for 2,500 people may seem like a large undertaking, it’s not unusual territory for Siegel. He said his team prepared sandwiches for 6,000 people just last week. And Siegel, who grew up in Highland Park and Lincoln Park, said he was happy to give back.

“It’s a good cause,” Siegel said.

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