Presentation - Family Heirloom Recipes from the Illinois State Fair

This scholar is fully booked through 2021. This scholar will be available to book for programs in 2022 on September 1, 2021. You may also book them outside of any Illinois Humanities affiliation using the contact information provided.

Since 2009, Catherine Lambrecht has judged Family Heirloom Recipes contests on behalf of Greater Midwest Foodways in Illinois as well as Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Ohio, Minnesota, Missouri, South Dakota, and Wisconsin. Contestants enter their best scratch family heirloom recipe suitable for a family or community dinner. The recipe should have originated 50 years ago or earlier. Contestants bring to the fair a prepared dish along with a history of who passed the recipe down to them.

This presentation offers an opportunity to follow the judging experience with curated histories, recipes and pictures of displays presented as submitted at the Illinois State Fair (2009-2019). The prepared recipes may have been submitted simply in their transport container, or more elaborately on the family’s china with relevant props of family pictures, kitchen paraphernalia and sometimes their loved one’s handwritten recipe.

What will be highlighted are the wonderful stories collected.

  • How a contestant wanted a judge to settle a long-debated family argument, which is better: green or white asparagus soup?
  • A right of passage as a young boy’s pet pig may become his breakfast
  • A family of mushroom collectors preserves old country traditions
  • And many more

If nothing else, should we inspire you to document a family favorite recipe to share with loved ones, then we have accomplished our mission. We want to encourage the continued use of these Family Heirloom Recipes so they will live on.

If it is virtual: Presenter has a zoom account to facilitate.

If it is a live event, then we need a podium, microphone, stool, if possible, and table and two chairs for book display.

If the audience wishes to bring their family recipe and story to share, that’s fine. If it is a group who may want to make a potluck of family recipes, well all the better. Those are suggestions and this presentation can be effective without audience submitting anything. Quite often, the Q&A drifts into, “Remember when …” which are often the stories I adore.

Program Topics

  • History
  • Food
  • Illinois

Book this presentation by first scheduling a date with Catherine via email or phone at 312.380.1665, then completing the Road Scholars Host Organization application.


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About Road Scholar Catherine Lambrecht

Catherine Lambrecht is a veteran of culinary competitions at the Lake County and Illinois State Fairs. A former University of Illinois Extension volunteer whose specialties were Master Food Preserver and Master Gardner. A founder of Greater Midwest Foodways Alliance, Chicago Foodways Roundtable (sister organization to Culinary Historians of Chicago) and LTHforum.com, a Chicago culinary chat site. Program director for the Highland Park Historical Society and Illinois Mycological Association (Mushroom Club). Editor of Heirloom Recipes from the Illinois State Fair, A Bicentennial Project. A day spent well is when she learns something new.

Learn More and Follow Catherine

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About Illinois Humanities Road Scholars Speakers Bureau

Since 1997, our Road Scholars Speakers Bureau has invited Illinois writers, storytellers, historians, folklorists, musicians, and living history actors, among others, to share their expertise and enthusiasm with people throughout our state. It also supports local nonprofit organizations – including libraries, museums, arts councils, historical societies, civic groups, and many others – in presenting free-admission cultural programs of high quality to their communities for a modest application fee, which can be waived if your organization is experiencing financial hardship.

Our Road Scholars Speakers Bureau roster features speakers hailing from many different communities across Illinois who offer presentations on topics in history, archaeology, philosophy, literature, theater, film, music, politics, and other subjects that are thought-provoking and engaging. The breadth of these offerings reflects our conviction that the humanities can help us to examine the world in all its varied shades and discover in it the remarkable, the strange, the fantastic, the tragic, the humorous, and the beautiful.

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