Thursday, November 13, 2008

Guest Blogger: Jackie Zabel, co-creator of the Award-Winning "Hollywood Cookbook"

A couple years ago we were fortunate to partner with some very special ladies to be a part of the award-winning "Hollywood Cookbook" (which makes a great gift idea!) "The Hollywood Cookbook" features menus from contributing celebrities and raises money for their charities. Our spokeswoman, Paige Hemmis, created a terrific themed dinner menu and for her contribution, Hollywood for Habitat for Humanity benefits from sales. We will let co-creator, Jackie Zabel, tell you all about it...

The simple high concept for "The Hollywood Cookbook Cooking for Causes," was that we wanted to do a fundraising cookbook on steroids. We wanted to help not just one but twenty different charities and we wanted not just one but a whole meal of recipes from our participating celebrities. That was our big idea. Cooking it up (forgive us) was easy, making it real was a lot harder.

We started with some friends and and friends of friends and started to build a community within the greater Hollywood community. We found a perfect fit in Hollywood Habitat for Humanity -- a great non profit that also knows the power of the film and television community to help good works. Paige Hemmis of Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, came on board to help. She contributed one of our most cleverly themed menus -- every recipe she gave us has a home improvement sound to it -- from her "Door Knob Sweet Potatoes" to her "Nuts and Bolts Salad," to her "Fixer-Upper Fish." The professional culinary students at Kitchen Academy helped us test the recipes and provided a venue for photography.

Each dish had to be "styled" in order to be ready for its close up. Paige wasn't too far off in some the tools necessary for this endeavor. Our food stylist, Andy Sheen Turner, used a little blow torch to make grill marks, he used plastic wrap to build up the levels underneath a particular dish, and he even made fake ice cream that wouldn't melt under the hot lights. There's really an art to this, folks. Our brilliant photographers, Craig Mathew and Ziva Santop also used their artistic eyes to make sure every photograph made mouths water. Our job on testing/photography days was to help everyone and we certainly helped ourselves to a sample taste of everything!

It all came together beautifully and we had a launch party at Kitchen Academy made possible with the generosity of both Kitchen Academy and Maurice LaCroix Swiss Watches, our two major sponsors. The chef instructor was so impressed with Paige's potatoes that they were chosen to be served as a "taste" of the book. It was a great, feel good evening, and the book continues to give the gift of great recipes with $5 dollars from each sale going into the "The Hollywood Cookbook Charities Fund," of which, we are proud to include Hollywood for Habitat for Humanity!

We're also pleased to have won Gourmand's "Best Fundraising Cookbook in the World." The award winning edition of the cookbook is available on Amazon and bookstores everywhere.


Thank you Jackie Zabel & Morgan Most for allowing us to be a part of this special cookbook & special thanks to Paige Hemmis for her ongoing support of the hardworking families in Greater Los Angeles. We urge everyone to buy "The Hollywood Cookbook" for the chefs and wannabe chefs on your list!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Our 100th Post

At Habitat for Humanity of Greater Los Angeles we are always excited when we can share milestones with you so today we are so happy to celebrate our 100th post here on the Building A Greater L.A. blog! Thanks to all the wonderful families, volunteers, donors, staff members and youth who contribute their stories to keep this blog informative and inspired.

If you have ever built with us or volunteered with us in any capacity, we invite you to email us and share your story here with other Habitat supporters. By sharing our stories, we inspire others to join us.

As Randall Wallace, our dear friend & founder of Hollywood for Habitat, says: "Those who give, receive and those who receive, give."

It's a wonderful feeling. We call it...Habititis.