Children’s books are inspiring top Milwaukee chefs to flex their creativity in the kitchen for a fundraiser for SHARP Literacy on Thursday, May 16 at The Ivy House, 906 Barclay Street, Milwaukee. These “cooks for books” will turn core ingredients, donated by McDonald’s Restaurants, into culinary masterpieces inspired by four children’s books that are currently used as part of SHARP’s foundational literacy program which impacts more than 8,500 elementary school students in 42 of Milwaukee and Waukesha Counties’ most at risk schools. Steve the Homer True, ESPN Radio on-air personality, will emcee the event.
Now in its fourth year, the fundraising event “SHARP Unwrapped” will closely tie to the mission of the organization through the focus on SHARP’s We Love to Learn books. Based on educational standards and grade-appropriate goals, the SHARP books are designed around themes that Milwaukee-area educators have brought to the nonprofit. Following the initial planning phase, SHARP students collaborate in the process by researching topics, writing original content and producing artwork and graphics before the book is printed and distributed. These locally produced books are serving as the basis for recipe development for the fundraiser.
Participating chefs and selected books for “SHARP Unwrapped 2019: Books & Cooks” include (in alphabetical order):
- Alexa Alfaro and Matt Alfaro of Meat on The Street inspired by There Grows the Neighborhood: Agriculture in the City;
- Jeff Badders of Bodegón at Hotel Madrid inspired by Aloha Adventure: A Story of Two Friends;
- Roger Di Domenico of Tyson Foods inspired by There Grows the Neighborhood: Agriculture in the City;
- Angel Otero of Bartolotta’s The Grain Exchange inspired by A Busy Bee: The Story of Bella the Honey Bee;
- Brian Taborski of Saz’s Catering inspired by Explore MKE: Your Neighborhood, Our City; and
- Jarvis Williams of Carnevor inspired by Aloha Adventure: A Story of Two Friends.
Tickets for SHARP Unwrapped can be purchased at: sharp-unwrapped19.eventbrite.com.
Creativity Drives Event
Just as SHARP students improve their literacy skills through creative approaches to learning, the Unwrapped chefs were charged with thinking about recipe development in a completely new way. With a totally blank slate in front of them, the chefs reviewed the children’s books and were asked to imagine new food creations based on the wide variety of storylines, characters and settings. The end results are delectable and visually beautiful entrees, appetizers and desserts that ultimately reflect the vision of SHARP students and educators.
“While each book that SHARP produces takes shape a little differently, all books have one thing in common: they reflect the hopes and dreams of children in our community,” said Lynda Kohler, president and CEO of SHARP Literacy. “For Milwaukee’s top chefs to turn the students’ vision into art with food, we are able to take our mission to the next level and see the imagination of our students come to life in yet another creative way.”
Chef Jarvis Williams of Milwaukee’s premiere steakhouse, Carnevor, has participated in the Unwrapped event every year since its inception. A Milwaukee native and father, he found inspiration in SHARP’s Aloha Adventure: A Story of Two Friends, which tells the tale of two friends, one in Wisconsin and one in Hawaii, who learn about kindness and respect even though they live thousands of miles apart. For the event, Chef Jarvis will blend the distinct taste profiles of the two very different states by creating a Hawaiian donut, called Malasada, and accenting it with a cranberry-maple jam. Chef Jarvis will be assisted on the night of the event by two students currently enrolled in Milwaukee Public School’s ProStart program, which provides high school students with on-the-job culinary training.
Chef Jarvis and the other participating chefs will serve their creations at food stations and an estimated 250 guests will be able to sample as many as they like. The evening will also include silent and live auctions with a variety of themed prizes.
Awards and Local Notables
At the event, SHARP will recognize Coca-Cola and Breakthru Beverage Group with the “Partner of the Year” awards. On the national level, Coca-Cola has supported the event since its inception with in-kind donations. Milwaukee’s own Breakthru, a leading North American beverage wholesaler, has a long history of support for the charity and will commemorate the partnership at this year’s event with a specialty cocktail inspired by SHARP Literacy’s We Love to Learn book, All About Wisconsin.
The co-chairs of the 2019 event are Marshall Chay, Brittany Lopez Naleid and Tom Naleid, and Paul and Megan Salb. SHARP Literacy wishes to thank this year’s event sponsors including EmPower HR, Park Bank, Peter Schwabe, Inc., Reinhart Boerner Van Deuren SC, SHARP Young Professionals Board, Town Bank, and Tyson Foods, among others.