Wednesday, Apr 25, 2018
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Culinary students to whip up a world of flavors for Mobile Meals

Special event to be Friday at Owens Community College

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    Cathy Hammoud of the Islamic Center of Greater Toledo, left, teaches senior Lexi Abdo and other students from Penta Career Canter how to make Kofta Stew for a fund-raiser for Mobile Meals of Toledo.

    The Blade/Jetta Fraser
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    From left, instructor Jim Rhegness and students Brienna Plotner, Samantha Miller, and Joelle Adkins speak with guest chef Cathy Hammoud.

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    Kafta Stew and rice

    The Blade/Jetta Fraser
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Dine on delicacies from around the world at Mobile Meals of Toledo’s newest fund-raiser, Whip It Up International.

This first-time special event is being held 6 to 9 p.m. Friday at the Center for Fine and Performing Arts at Owens Community College, 30335 Oregon Rd., Perrysburg.

Culinary arts students from Owens and from Penta Career Center will whip up the multicultural feast with dishes representing nine countries, said Mobile Meals’ Associate Executive Director Carolyn Fox.

Rather than hiring an established caterer, Mrs. Fox invited the schools to prepare food because the event is so student-centric.

“It’s kids that need experience helping other children in their community,” she said.

Proceeds will benefit the Mobile Meals Weekender Program, which provides bags of nutritious, non-perishable food to area schoolchildren who would otherwise get inadequate nourishment from the time they leave school on Friday afternoon until returning for breakfast Monday morning.

Instructors Ed Gozdowski of Owens and Jim Rhegness of Penta have worked with Mrs. Fox on many other events.

“They are thrilled and honored to be a part of what we do,” she said. “Ed literally had tears in his eyes when we talked about hungry children” while planning for Whip It Up, she said.

Working in real-world settings is “the best educational experience” for his students, Mr. Gozdowski said. And it is especially important to offer them opportunities like Whip It Up that benefit their community.

“Tons of people wouldn’t get a decent meal if it weren’t for Mobile Meals,” he said.

For the event, Owens students will serve Irish Guinness Stout-Braised Chicken on a bed of colcannon, as well as Polish sliders made with Stanley’s Market kielbasa and sweet and sour cabbage from a recipe from Mr. Gozdowski’s mother. Also on the menu will be Mexico’s traditional Tacos al Pastor with pineapple salsa, cilantro, and crema and a student-run homemade pasta bar to represent Italy with three sauces: marinara, basil pesto, and alfredo.

The students also will prepare a dessert assortment: key lime pie tarts, miniature cream puffs, and chocolate mousse shooters.

Mrs. Fox attended a cooking session in which Cathy Hammoud of the Islamic Center of Greater Toledo taught Penta students how to make authentic Lebanese Kofta Stew.

“It was really good,” she said, after sampling the hearty dish.

The Penta students’ menu is still being developed. Besides the stew, they will make dishes representing Brazil, China, Jamaica, and Japan.

Whip It Up is designed to be a fun, casual, after-work event to end the week.

In addition to the delicious international dining opportunities, there will be a cash bar and entertainment. Performers will include Ardán Academy of Irish Dance, belly dancers from the Aegela Centers for Middle Eastern Dance, El Corazón de Mexico Ballet Folklorico, and Indian dance troupe Naach by Aha.

Currently, six Toledo schools are enrolled in the Weekender program: Queen of Apostles School, Rosary Cathedral Catholic School, and Garfield, Pickett, Spring, and Stewart elementary schools. But 22 more are on the growing waiting list.

The Weekender program costs $3.50 per child, with 1,500 children currently enrolled, said Mrs. Fox, totalling $5,250 each week during the school year for the bags of food the children are sent home with on Fridays.

Mobile Meals absorbs a lot of the costs for services, including for the drivers who transport the bags. Lott Industries sorts items and fills the grocery bags for distribution.

Tickets for Whip It Up cost $50 per person and are available at​events or at the door. For more information, call 419-255-7806.

Kafta Stew


2 pounds ground beef or lamb

1 large bunch of parsley

2 medium yellow onions, finely chopped


Arabic Seven Spice mix

Salt and pepper

4 to 5 large potatoes

2 8-ounce cans tomato sauce


1 16-ounce bag frozen peas


½ package of vermicelli noodles

Vegetable oil

2 cups long grain rice

4 to 5 cups water

1 vegetable bouillon base

8 tablespoons butter

After mixing the meat, parsley, onions, allspice, Arabic spices, salt, and pepper, form small kafta balls. Brown them in the pot you are going to use to cook the stew.

While they are browning, peel and dice the potatoes into 2 to 3-inch pieces. (They cook faster the smaller you cut them.)

When the kafta balls are finished browning, add the potatoes and tomato sauce. Add salt, pepper, and Arabic spice to the tomato mixture. Add water to the consistency you want the sauce to be (some like it really “tomatoey”and some like it thin) and bring to a boil.

Once the stew boils, lower heat. Cook until potatoes are almost finished then add peas.

While that’s cooking prepare the rice. Brown vermicelli in a bit of vegetable oil. Once browned, add the rice and water. Then add the vegetable bouillon base and butter and cover. Bring to boil then turn the heat to the lowest setting. (I use a diffuser under my rice.)

Check rice to see if you need to add more water. If so, add ½ cup at a time. When the rice is finished cooking, spoon it into individual bowls and ladle the stew over it.

Source: Cathy Hammoud

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