JDRF kitchen tour; JF&CS to honor Kessler, Siwak

Columnist Lois Caplan

By Lois Caplan

TEN STATE-OF-THE-ART, jaw dropping, show stopping, eye popping designer kitchens from modern to traditional will be open for touring on Thursday, Nov. 18 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. This is the First Annual Heart of the Home Kitchen Tour to benefit the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, the international leader in the funding to treat, cure and ultimately prevent diabetes, an autoimmune disease for which there is no known cure.  The kitchens are all in Ladue and Frontenac and the tickets for this very special event are only $40 per person.  To purchase yours call 314-729-1846 or visit www.jdrf.org/teamjdrf.

The hard working tour chairs are Laurie Thiess and Laura Roeder, but the big cheese of the event is Honorary Chair John Carney, the wildly wonderful host of KMOX AM Radio. John Carney, who inherited his legendary sense of humor from his late father Jack Carney, claims, “It takes a big man to work in a small kitchen.” And big he is. John Carney attributes his passion for food to “an adventuresome childhood that included a trip to East Africa, a South American nanny and the family’s Pakistani cook.” I would add to that his love for his Jewish grandmother, Fran Kehlman, who also loved to eat but was better at making reservations than brisket. The father of two girls and two boys, ages 1 and 2, Carney says that he is also a good resource on how to remove foods off kitchen floors and fans.

Carney, who hosts various fundraising events around town, established the Carney’s Kids Foundation, now in its fifth year, which serves several area children’s charities. As the author of two cookbooks, “Taste of Restaurant Tuesday” and “Another Taste of Restaurant Tuesday” (named after his radio restaurant feature in its 20th year) he is the perfect person to be the Honorary Chair of the First Annual JDRF Heart of the Home Kitchen Tour.

EARL KESSLER AND AL SIWAK are to be honored Sunday, Nov. 14 by the Jewish Family and Children’s Service (JF&CS) Tree of Life Society for their creation of the Pallet Partners program.  Dope that I am, I thought that the award had something to do with art, that they both held palettes in their hands and daubed away at canvases like Chagall and Picasso. Wrong! This pallet has to do with the art of feeding families and saving lives. The abbreviated story is that Kessler recently became acquainted with the Harvey Kornblum Jewish Food Pantry. Along with his wife, Essie, the two brought 40 cases of canned goods from a warehouse and ordered 125 more to be delivered. Kessler relayed this story to his longtime friend Al Siwak who asked if he could split the cost of the next order and who came up with the plan of asking others to join them.  Siwak recognized that with the help of others they could order additional food by the pallet, “a portable platform for handling, storing or moving material and packages” according to the dictionary. Thus the Pallet Partners program was born.

The two men are backed by the financial commitment of the 35 families in the program.  Kessler and Siwak administer the collection of funds, purchase and deliver pallets to the food pantry and work to generate new businesses and individuals into the program. Although the program is in its infancy, it has helped feed 700 families, or 2,800 individuals. What this has done for the food pantry is mind-boggling. Thanks to two intelligent businessmen, their expertise is making a major improvement in the stock of food and supplies at the pantry.  Established in 1991 to serve clients living in zip codes surrounding JF&CS, today the pantry serves clients from over 89 different zip codes throughout the greater St. Louis area. When Kessler and Siwak are honored Nov. 14 at the Clayton home of Karen Kalish along with their 35 Pallet Partners, I am certain that they would welcome you as a partner.  To find out more about the program contact Joan Robinson at the JF&CS Harvey Kornblum Food Pantry, 314-993- 1000 or log on to www.jfcs-stl.org.

“RETIREES, PRE-RETIREES, AND NEVER-WANNABE RETIREES – What are YOU doing with the rest of your life?” This is the intriguing subject for a symposium about pathways and payoffs in life’s second half with keynote speaker Jeri Sedlar, author of “Don’t Retire, Rewire!” and a career change expert. Mary Beth Izard, author of “BoomerPreneurs: How Baby Boomers Can Start Their Own Business, Make Money and Enjoy Life” will share her expertise on business start-ups and ideas for business. They will be joined by panelists who have invented new lives and new pathways for themselves.

The symposium will be held on Saturday, Nov. 6 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Student Center, St. Louis Community College-Meramec. 11333 Big Bend Road. The cost is $30, which includes lunch.  To register or for more information call Maria Sullivan at OASIS, 314-539 4556.