Wanna-Be-Chef Dinner Productions hosted its third annual benefit dinner, Fiesta Italiana, at Fuel in Wilmette, IL. The event benefited The Warming House also located in Wilmette. Jeff Holcomb, Craig Phillips and Robert Friesen, worked in the kitchen to serve 90 people a five-course rustic Italian menu that featured braised ox-tail and ciopinni amongst other items. This year’s event marked the second year in a row the benefit was held at Fuel.
Holcomb, Phillips and Friesen, along with Fuel chefs Derek Dwyer and Rick Lind and special guest Mary “Mama” Di Fiore, donned embroidered Chefwear’s Three-Star Cloth Knot Button Jackets. The trio has used Chefwear for all three of the annual events and avidly supports the brand.
Robert Friesen (right), Wanna-Be-Chef, and son Harley (left), Fuel line cook, during the Third Annual Wanna-Be-Chef event
Holcomb, Phillips and Friesen conceptualized a theme and worked with Fuel’s chefs to create a menu that included specialties made from locally sourced ingredients. They spent three days preparing food and planning for the ups and downs that happen daily while working in a busy restaurant’s kitchen. “Mama” Di Fiore created over 100 servings of traditional Italian desserts including cannoli, tiramisu and cassata.
From left to right: Rick Lind, Chef; Jeff Holcomb, Wanna-Be-Chef; Friesen; Derek Dwyer, Executive Chef; Craig Phillips, Wanna-Be-Chef; and “Mama” DiFiore (center) during the Third Annual Wanna-Be-Chef event
“We all love to cook,” said Friesen. “But loving to cook and working in a restaurant and churning out 500 high-quality courses in a three-hour period are two very different stories. The three of us enjoy the challenge, learning to scale up cooking to feed a large group, and learning new techniques and recipes from the professional chefs that work with us. We have something to be very proud of here.”
From left to right: Lind, Phillips, Tim Lenon, Owner of Fuel, Dwyer, Friesen, and Holcomb during the Third Annual Wanna-Be-Chef Event