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Contestants sought for first Cooking with the Island Stars event

By Staff | Dec 9, 2015

OEG Media Owner and producer of “Real Food Real Kitchens” Craig Chapman is among one of the judges of Cooking with the Island Stars. PHOTO PROVIDED

A new event will be introduced to the community this January featuring nonprofessional family chefs who would like to share their recipe and its story with a chance to be featured on television and in a cookbook.

Marge Meek said after hosting Dancing with the Stars for a few years they wanted to introduce a new event to the community, Cooking with the Island Stars, to raise funds for The Community House’s 890 square foot commercial grade kitchen, which is a part of the capital campaign.

“It’s a real production, heavily scripted” she said of the Wednesday, Feb. 24 event that is an extension of creating meals from a farm to the kitchen. “We want to make this a healthy island and go back to cooking at home.”

The Community House is working with OEG Media owner and producer of the “Real Food Real Kitchens” television show.

“Donna (Puma) from Pinocchio’s made an introduction and thought there might be some energy there for a fundraiser,” Craig Chapman said. “I’m open for anything.”

With Chapman’s tie to Sanibel since he was a youngster due to a timeshare his parents purchased at Casa Ybel while it was being built, he said was more than happy to help with a fundraiser.

“We are doing a competition for a good cause. It’s all in good fun,” he said of raising money for The Community House.

The competition is set up for five contestants, who must be a family chef that has a passion for cooking, has an authentic recipe that is deeply rooted in family history and the ability to share their story with others.

“The story has to be good and authentic,” Chapman said, adding that the recipe can be something as simple as a macaroni and cheese dish, as long as it’s made from scratch and is authentic. “It is also important that someone is able to tell the story well and give a good show. They need to be home cooking enthusiasts. They definitely need to have that love in there somewhere.”

Those interested in being considered a contestant for the Cooking with the Island Stars event must complete a form. All application letters must be turned in by Jan. 8, which includes a commitment of raising a minimum of $5,000 for the event.

The contestants will be interviewed by Chapman, Meek and Salli Kirkland on Wednesday, Jan. 13 to determine the five contestants.

The event will be held at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 24, offering attendees with the opportunity to meet the chefs, taste their recipes and vote for their favorite with donations in the contestants voting box. Tickets to the event, which go on sale Jan. 25, are $100 a person. The programs for the event will include the contestants recipes for everyone to enjoy.

Meek said the event is an extension of The Community House’s monthly potlucks, a get together that began last spring and initiated the Kitchen Guild, which is 80 members strong.

The People’s Choice winner, determined by the amount of money the contestant raised, will be featured on “Real Food Real Kitchens.” Thirteen new episodes will start airing in January on Hulu. The Judge’s Choice award, determined by three judges, will be featured in the book-a-zine cookbook, scheduled for the fall of 2016.

“Now that the show is pretty well established and becoming more popular, doing an event like this seems exciting,” Chapman said. “It’s a fun way to find someone to feature on the show.”

Chapman put the wheels in motion in 2010 for his Hulu show “Real Food Real Kitchens,” which is about family, food, culture and history. Every episode showcases a mini documentary of an every day person who shows an enthusiasm of food and has a traditional family recipe to share. After the background is provided, the dish is prepared in the individual’s kitchen.

“Everyone has that family member that has a dish that everyone tries to get the recipe for,” Chapman said. “The goal is to preserve those types of dishes and the family stories that are behind them. The viewers can identify so well because everyone has a story like that.”

When contemplating show ideas, he said all of the cooking shows on television were competition based, something he did not want to pursue.

“I think the real heart of the show is that people are sharing a real emotional, honest story,” Chapman said.

Before Chapman began producing his own show, he worked for MTV and VHI for 17 years.

“I worked on all of their reality programming and video musical awards for many years,” he said.

Chapman was also a magazine editor for many years for such publications as Seventeen and InTouch Weekly. He is now the author of “Real Food Real Kitchens New York: A Generational Cookbook.”

Follow Meghan @IslanderMeghan on Twitter.