Celebrity chef coming back home to cook for Humane Society benefit


As they used to say in small-town newspapers, Local Girl Makes Good.

Then, Local Girl returns to town and cooks big, fancy meal for well-heeled (and hungry) guests, with the proceeds going to the proverbial Good Cause.

The local girl in this case is Susan Feniger, one of the first chefs turned into celebrities by the Food Network. With her cooking partner Mary Sue Milliken — collectively, they are known as the Too Hot Tamales — she has appeared on some 400 episodes of shows on that channel. The two own restaurants in Los Angeles and Las Vegas, along with a highly successful taco truck and a kiosk that sells sort-of fast-food versions of their famous dishes.

And yes, there can indeed be such a thing as a highly successful taco truck.

The good cause is the Toledo Area Humane Society, which explains why the evening is being called the Paw-Villion Celebrity Chef Event and why the one item to be auctioned at the event is a 14-karat white gold “paw-vee” diamond charm in the shape of a dog bone (it comes with a 14-karat white gold chain).

The shindig will be Sept. 21, beginning with a cocktail hour at 6:30 p.m. and a seated dinner at 7:30 p.m.

Tickets are $250, and they go on sale tomorrow at ToledoAreaHumaneSociety.org.

The event will be at Tantara Farm, 4145 Tantara Rd., in Sylvania Township. The hosts are Susan and Allan Block. Allan Block is chairman of Block Communications Inc., parent company of The Blade.

Piece-a pizza

It’s the kind of question that tends to be posed most often at bars: Who makes the best pizza in town?

Definitive answers are rarely determined. Usually, potential winners are bandied about for several minutes and at least one beer, and then the conversation moves on to another rhetorical question, such as whether the designated hitter rule should be abandoned immediately or should they wait until the end of the year?

But later this month the question — the one about pizza — will finally be answered, once and for all.

Or at least once and for all, until next year.

The annual and much-anticipated Pizza Palooza will be held July 26-27 at Centennial Terrace in Sylvania. Ten pizza purveyors will vie for the title of best pie, pitting dough against dough, sauce against sauce, pepperoni against pepperoni.

Competing this year will be Amie’s Pizza Factory (it’s the same pizza as Mancino’s; the two restaurants will be competing together), Charlie’s Pizza, J-Cups Pizza, Jet’s Pizza, Jo-Jo’s Pizzeria, Mama Mary’s, Pizza Hut, PizzaPapalis, Pizza Roma, and Vito’s Pizza.

Not enough pizza for you? You’re our kinda guy (or gal). Fortunately for you and us, there will be plenty more pizza to try. Local non-restaurant businesses will also be competing against each other, as will local media outlets.

Each division — pizza parlors, corporate cooks, and media moguls — will have two winners, one chosen by a team of highly trained judges with exquisite taste and effortless good looks and one chosen by real people.

There will be plenty of activities for kids and a boatload of bands to help you digest: Skoobie Snacks, Arctic Clam, and the Chris Shutters Band will perform on July 26, with Branden Stansley, Mt. Fuji and the Eruptions, Distant Couzins, and Flabongo Nation set for July 27.

Admission is $5 for adults, $3 for children 5-12, and free for children under 5. The pizza will be sold for $1.50-$2 a slice, and of course you can vote for all your favorites. Centennial Terrace is located at 5773 Centennial Rd.

Got milk?

On the third Thursday of each month, people involved in the food industry and agriculture come together north for a breakfast meeting and a talk given by someone with a particular knowledge of the business.

It’s called the Northwest Ohio Ag-Business Breakfast Forum, and it is held at the Agriculture Incubator Foundation north of Bowling Green. This Thursday, being the third of the month, they will be meeting from 8-9:30 a.m. to hear from Karen Bakies, the nutrition affairs director of the American Dairy Association Mideast.

Ms. Bakies will talk about the nutritional benefits of dairy products, as well as trends, innovations, research, and the overall benefits of all things dairy. Having this conversation in Ohio is particularly apt because, as you might know, Ohio has 268,000 dairy cows on 2,931 dairy farms. That is a lot of cows producing a lot of milk.

The meeting, which includes breakfast, is $10, and is open to everyone (cash or check at the door). The only hard part is finding the Agriculture Incubator Foundation, which is on State Route 582, about 2.2 miles west of the I-75 interchange.

Walk-ins are accepted, but guests are requested to reserve a seat — remember, they have to have an idea of how much breakfast to make. For reservations or information, call 419-535-6000, ext. 100.

Items for Morsels should be submitted up to two weeks before an event to food@theblade.com.