Fox community eats for education: My E.A.T.S. experience

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UW-Fox Valley celebrated the Educational Assistance through Scholarships (E.A.T.S.) 20th anniversary Nov. 5.

Since the event started in 1997, the event has raised more than $678,000 for the campus scholarship program, and, in its 19th year, it reached its record high of $78,000 for student scholarships.

For just $50 per ticket, community members, staff, friends and families had the opportunity to attend.

Attendees were able to participate in a silent auction filled with donated items, listen to live music, interact with one another and sample food made by celebrity and guest chefs.

The E.A.T.S. event consisted of three courses: appetizers, entrees and desserts. Dishes of multiple cultures, ingredients and flavors filled the Aylward Gallery, Perry Hall and the Baehman Theatre.

All chefs that participated were volunteers from a variety of backgrounds. Local businesses, staff, students and even some celebrity chefs created dishes that were enjoyed by many. Some of the more well-known celebrities are Chef Ace Champion and Chef Ryan Sherman.

Ace Champion is not only an award-winning chef, but also a star of the Ace Champion television series. He was the winner of “People’s Choice Award,” “Best Overall” and a “Grand Prize Award.”

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Celebrity chef Ace Champion and UW Colleges Regional Executive Officer and Dean Martin Rudd prepared food at the E.A.T.S. event. The two were presented with the silver medal for the “Top Chef Award.” • photo by Jennifer Dins; UW-Fox Valley Foundation file photo

Chef Ryan Sherman not only competed, but won on the popular television program Cutthroat Kitchen. Sherman also became an executive chef at the local downtown restaurant, Spats.

Although the celebrity chefs were impressive, the rest of the chefs did not disappoint. As a student at UW-Fox Valley and a senator on Student Government, I was asked to volunteer at the E.A.T.S. event. I took on the task of being a chef in the dessert category. Three other student teams also took on the same responsibility.

UW-Fox Freshman and Student Chef Dominicka Lewicki commented on her personal experience as a first-time participant in this event.

“I think it’s a great fundraiser and a great way to get involved with the community and help out the scholarship foundation,” Lewicki said.

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Dominicka Lewicki, a freshman, serves her Oreo truffle dessert. • photo by Jennifer Dins; UW-Fox Valley Foundation file photo

Each person who attended the event was given a ballot to vote on their favorite dishes. Attendees were asked to vote for their favorite appetizer, entree and dessert.

The best appetizer award went to Jeffrey Igel and Kate Lulloff with their dish of bacon-wrapped pirogi with chipotle ranch Sauce. Representative Amanda Stuck was given the best entree award for her vegetarian risotto. Rose Mary Lewis took home the best dessert award for her blue ribbon pies.

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Chef Rose Mary Lewis’ Blue Ribbon Pies were voted best dessert at E.A.T.S. • photo by Jennifer Dins; UW-Fox Valley Foundation file photo

As chefs who participated, we were asked to prepare 200 or more small samples of the dish we selected. For my dessert dish, I choose assorted cake pops. With my co-chef, Allison Eick, a former UW-Fox student, I created 20 different flavors of cake pops to represent E.A.T.S. 20th anniversary and the success this event has created. I can personally say the workload was heavy, but the experience made it worth it.

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Myself and co-chef Allison Eick with our assorted cake pop dessert Nov. 5. • photo by Jennifer Dins; UW-Fox Valley Foundation file photo

Juli McGuire, E.A.T.S. volunteer chef chair, explained the community aspect of E.A.T.S. was her favorite part of the event.

“I love seeing the students, staff and community members working together,” McGuire said. “I know if that works, our guests will really enjoy themselves, and that means everyone who worked to put on a great event can feel good about themselves and about achieving our goals.”

After participating in my first year of E.A.T.S. and loving the experience, atmosphere and dishes, I’ll be sure to encourage others to join in on the fun. If you or someone you know may be interested in helping the scholarship program by donation or participation at E.A.T.S., visit the UW-Fox E.A.T.S. web page.

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