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Seven Local Chefs Join Sweet’s Alina Eisenhauer for Her Crowdfunded Cookbook Project

Alina Eisenhauer from Sweet on Shrewsbury Street in Worcester, MA

Alina Eisenhauer has enlisted seven Worcester and local area chefs to provide exclusive stories and recipes for her Cooking from Memory cookbook, which she is funding herself through Kickstarter. (Crowdfunded means the book’s creation is entirely dependent on the support of the crowd – meaning us – through March 24: For a pledge of $30, you get a full-color hardcover book delivered by the end of the year.)

Peter Eco (Fay Club), Jared Foreman (deadhorse hill), Candy Murphy (Figs and Pigs), Jay Powell (Twisted Fork), Christopher Rovezzi (Rovezzi’s Ristorante), Mark DeNittis, and Tim Russo (Lock 50) have all agreed to share memories of favorite dishes growing up and provide or create recipes with Alina for the book.

“I felt this was a great way to connect our memories of food to what is happening around Worcester,” says Eisenhauer. “There are so many wonderful chefs and restaurants who are connected to and connecting this city today. I wanted to celebrate that and work with a few of them to make this cookbook even more fun and capture more of our city’s food spirit.”

Chris Rovezzis Cooking
Chris Rovezzi, in the kitchen, will share memories for Eisenhauer Cookbook

In fact, Eisenhauer notes, the memory and recipe that inspired the whole book came from a conversation she had with Rovezzi long before she moved to Worcester and opened Sweet.

“He told me chocolate cream pie was his favorite dessert as a kid, because it was the first thing his dad taught him how to cook. But he hadn’t eaten it since then because he was afraid it wouldn’t taste the same. I knew right then I had to make Chris a pie, and that’s the memory that stayed with me and inspired the book.”

What will the other chefs choose? That’s up to them, says Eisenhauer. The most important thing is that the dish connects to a memory of food that is important to them – something they ate growing up or something someone they loved made. The actual recipe in the book might be that recipe from their families, an elevated version of the dish they cook for customers today, or something inspired by the memory that Eisenhauer creates with them. She and her team will also work with the chefs to capture the memories and recipe in words and pictures.

Chef Tim Russo from Lock 50 on Water Street in Worcester, MA
Chef Tim Russo from Lock 50 on Water Street in Worcester, MAChef Tim Russo from Lock 50 on Water Street in Worcester, MA (Alex Belisle for Mass Foodies)

“But no matter what,” adds Eisenhauer. “The recipe will be exclusive to Cooking from Memory – something you won’t find anywhere else when the book is published.”

That is IF the book is published. As reported previously by Mass Foodies, Eisenhauer is taking a non-traditional route to produce a cookbook that will rival the content and quality of any book she could have produced with a traditional publisher.

But that work – mostly the printing of 5,000 books – is expensive. Kickstarter allows her to try and raise the money herself by asking her thousands of customers, connections, and friends (many of whom have asked her when she would write a cookbook and how they would “totally buy it”) to simply purchase one in advance to make it happen.

Cooking From Memory, Chef Alina Eisenhauer's new book going on Kickstarter.
Cooking From Memory, Chef Alina Eisenhauer’s new book going on Kickstarter.

“I don’t think many people realize that if there is no funding there will be no book – there will be nothing to buy later!” adds Eisenhauer. “Kickstarter is all or nothing. If we don’t get the funding we ask for, we don’t get ANY of the money we raise to do this. There is no risk to anyone who pledges either. If we fund, they get a book at below the cover price including shipping or one of the other rewards they pledge to buy. If we don’t, they are charged nothing. I promise it will be worth your advance support.”

The Cooking from Memory project ends on Kickstarter on March 24. The book also gives back: for every book sold Eisenhauer will donate at least $1 to her favorite charity: Share Our Strength’s No Kid Hungry campaign.

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Irish Shepherd’s Pie

Irish Shepherd’s Pie from O'Connor's Restaurant on West Boylston Street in Worcester, MA

Irish Shepherd’s Pie from O'Connor's Restaurant on West Boylston Street in Worcester, MA

Going to O’Connor’s Restaurant is like going home, and for me it was just that. Having grown up in the Burncoat area of Worcester, the West Boylston Street staple was a huge part of some of my most memorable moments. From celebrating a soccer win in high school, to meeting up with college friends for a holiday drink, or a rehearsal dinner for my best friend’s wedding, O’Connor’s has always been the place to get together with friends and family.

In making my dinner selection, I chose something that would give me a similarly nostalgic feeling, selecting the Irish Shepherd’s Pie. The slow cooked beef, roasted vegetables (corn, peas and carrots) and savory gravy were a tasty combination and the creamy mashed potatoe / cheddar cheese topping was baked to perfection. This heaping portion of comfort food was enough for 2 or 3 meals of, but I was prepared to eat and made sure to finish every bite! The buttery potatoes and cheddar reminded me of my Mom’s shepherd’s pie when I was growing up and how I have since tried to replicate her recipe.

If you’re in need of a night out, but are still looking for the feel and taste of home, you need to check out O’Connor’s! Whether it’s your first time visiting or your fiftieth, you will be greeted with their friendly staff and treated as if you’re part of the family. Don’t worry either if comfort food isn’t your thing; O’Connor’s, which distinguishes itself for their European flair, also offers many lighter menu options. Constantly changing their menu to move forward with up and coming food trends, O’Connor’s also includes a variety of salad, vegetarian, gluten free and fresh-daily seafood options!

The restaurant itself also has a rich history, and has grown and expanded as much as the building has in its twenty-five years; you can see it on their walls. O’Connor’s Restaurant is decorated from top to bottom with décor and memorabilia from a lifetime of stories and experience.

So go ahead, join the family!