West Suburban Community Pantry

Woodridge IL–From fresh eggplant stacks to braised short ribs, tapas to tiramisu, renowned chefs across the region have stepped up to help West Suburban Community Pantry  celebrate the creativity and comfort of food at the first ever virtual Chef’s Culinary Celebration on Saturday evening, September 26th. Guests at the fundraiser will enjoy complete chef-prepared dinners at home while viewing a virtual fundraising event including cocktail music, silent auction and inspirational stories of families served by the pantry.  Due to COVID restrictions on large gatherings, the event is a pivot from the Pantry’s largest fundraiser, the wildly popular Chef’s Culinary Challenge held the last eight years. But good food and fun will still be served.

Delectable full dinner menus are being prepared by Belgios Catering, Naperville, Cadence Kitchen &Co. and The Foxtail in Downers Grove, Caffe di Moda in Lisle, Elements at Water Street in Naperville, The Girl & the Goat, Chicago and SixtyFour Wine Bar & Kitchen, Naperville. Special menus and wine pairings are being offered to Sponsors.  All proceeds support the West Suburban Community Pantry’s mission to create a community without hunger.

Among several chef’s creations are a four-course Italian meal featuring Chicken Carciofi and Tiramisu, a three-course Beef Tenderloin meal with Grilled Shrimp appetizer and Flourless Dark Chocolate Cake, a five-course Small Plate menu with Fox Cake and strawberries, a three- course vegetarian meal featuring Burrata, Artichoke Panini and House-made Profiteroles, and a Make-at-Home Roasted Pork Shank Dinner Kit for 2 with vegetable and Cookies to bake for dessert, complete with instructions. Sponsors offerings include a Spanish Paella and Tapas Buffet, a Tuscan Vineyard Tasting Bar and a French Bistro Favorites Groaning Board.

“There’s no doubt many people are struggling and we love to support organizations like West Suburban Community Pantry who are part of the solution,” says Tim Belgio, Owner of Belgios Catering. “Times are tough right now, but even in better times there is always need. We are committed to helping.  I believe to help people who are having a hard time is why we are here on earth.”

The West Suburban Community Pantry is headquartered in Woodridge, and serves people living in areas higher-than-average poverty, including areas of Bolingbrook, Lisle, Naperville, Downers Grove, Darien, Willowbrook, Westmont and Romeoville.   The group recently opened its first In-school Pantry at Irene King Elementary School in Romeoville, provides food to residential clients Bridge Communities and DuPage PADs and offers home deliveries to seniors as well as providing meal support to school students year-round.

“With COVID, demand for our services has tripled. Between job loss and furloughs, families are struggling to keep their homes and cover their expenses.  Alleviating the pressure to pay for food can make a big difference in that fight,” says Pantry Executive Director Laura Coyle.  “We are doing everything to meet the demand, as so many have lost jobs and many have no idea if or when they might be employed again or receive state or federal  benefits.”

The Pantry, which normally offers a grocery-store-style shopping experience for clients, is in the midst of an expansion of their service space to accommodate a greater capacity to serve an increased space for food donation and storage, larger private client intake offices, an on-line ordering department, drive-up pick up and expanded program and office space.

The Ann & Victor Pokorny Memorial Fund and Marquette Companies/Century 21 Affiliated Ryan Hill Group are lead sponsors of the Chef’s Culinary Celebration. Reservations for sponsor party meals and individual and group meals must be made prior to September 18.   For tickets,  sponsorship and information on the Chef’s Culinary Celebration and West Suburban Community Pantry, visit https://wscpantry.org/chefs-culinary-challenge or call 630-948-8132.