We all hope that all couples have their “happily ever after.” The truth is that sometimes they don’t and relationships can sometimes be plagued with domestic violence and abuse. Enter Apna Ghar: Based out of Chicago, Apna Ghar, meaning “Our Home” in Hindi, provides holistic services to women and children across immigrant communities in the Chicago area to end the cycle of domestic violence. This organization empowers women to be self-sufficient by providing a full spectrum of services such as a 24-hour emergency hotline, a shelter, counseling, case management and legal advocacy.
A couple weeks ago, Apna Ghar held its 4th Annual Taste for Life gala, which I had the pleasure of attending. The proceeds from the gala support Apna Ghar’s mission to empower domestic violence survivors to reclaim and rebuild their lives.
The event was hosted by Suvir Saran, the former executive chef of Devi Restaurant, New York (The only Indian Restaurant in the United States to have earned Michelin Star) and Bravo TV’s Top Chef Masters.
The event featured an Iron Chef type competition and a live auction, while culinary delicacies were served from some of Chicago’s best restaurants, including: The Drake, Gaylord Indian Restaurant, GT Fish & Oyster, Isla Pilipina, Klay Oven Kitchen, Sabor Saveur, Sunda, Emilio’s Tapas, Chocolat-Uzma Sharif, Ashyana Banquets and Catering, Peacock Restaurant, Cantina Laredo, Atwood Cafe, Cabot Creamery Cooperative, Entertaining Company, and Bombay Spice.
I got to sample numerous impressive delicacies at their live stations. I started my journey at the event with Suzy Singh’s delicious Butter Chicken Samosas from Ashyana Banquets. Equally impressive was Peacock Restaurant’s live station serving Kathi Rolls. They had 3 mouthwatering fillings: chicken, seekh, and chilly paneer, with a spread of toppings. Another dish that I really enjoyed was a fusion salmon dish with green sauce, corn relish and topped with a chocolate based sauce by Sabor Saveur.
Klay Oven Kitchen’s French trained chef, Sahil Singh prepared a yummy Indian style Gazpacho with Chaat Masala, which added a wonderful zing to it. I was also tremendously impressed by Drake’s chef who prepared Prawn Biryani and Aloo tikkis. Other dishes worth mentioning include Sunda’s garden rolls, Isla Pilipina’s Egg Rolls, French trained Uzma Sharif’s chocolates, and Gaylord Indian Restaurant’s mini Uthappams. The delightful Hors d’oeuvres served were bite size naan kathi rolls, and bhel puri cones.
Chicago’s hottest chef’s: Hiran Patel (Klay Oven Kitchen), Martin Cabrera (Restaurant Consultant, and Mixologist), and Suzy Singh (from Fox’s MasterChef) participated in a live Iron Chef type of cook-off competition. The Chefs had to impress amaze celebrity judges: Beverly Kim, Chef of the Aria Restaurant at The Fairmont Chicago, and Top Chef Season 9; Bill Daley, Food and Feature Writer for at the Chicago Tribune; and Alpana Singh, Master Sommelier, and WTTW’s host of the Emmy award winning show Check Please!.
When the time came for the cooking competition, each contestant was provided with a secret ingredient. The secret ingredients were rose water, raisins, and banana leafs. Each chef came up with a signature dish using those ingredients.
Chef Cabrera prepared a Mediterranean inspired plate of salad with rose water and turmeric dressing, cashew coconut milk puree with raisins, Mahi Mahi, and tuna tartar.
Chef Patel prepared a Dhokla dish with a distinct Eastern European influence. He served this Dhokla with raisins on banana Leaf. Alpana Singh described his dish as a spaetzle, with a ”beautiful application of ingredients”.
Chef Singh made a very attractive presentation of raisins, beef puree with a coconut puff at the bottom, with sesame seed encrusted pan seared tuna. She used an Orange sauce as a base and truffle sauce on the top. She utilized her secret ingredient, banana leaf in a broth combined with sea food. The judges loved her modern interpretation and beautiful presentation. Chef Suzy Singh wowed the judges and was the winner of the Iron Chef style cook off at the Taste for Life.
The Taste for Life gala was a super fun event for a wonderful cause. Everyone in attendance had a wonderful time tasting the food, while supporting and raising funds for a great cause. Kamal Hans was wonderful as the event auctioneer, and Sabrina Hans, who is on the Event Chair of Apna Ghar, did a fabulous job planning the whole event. Kudos to the dedicated members of the
Apna Ghar team for planning such a great event!
Be sure to get on the mailing list to buy tickets for next year’s Taste for Life early as this gala will sell out!