June 8, 2011

Kitty Benefit Wrap-Up and Thank-Yous

by IsaChandra

All the volunteers, some jumping more than others

I’ve always loved feeding people. Food is my conduit to pretty much everything. It’s how I relax, it’s when I do my best thinking, it’s how I tell someone I love them and it’s even how I earn my living. If I’m not wearing an oven mitt or wielding a pair of tongs, I start to get a little twitchy. I admit, I was a little nervous about how that would play out in my move to Omaha. I guess I pictured myself judiciously traveling to and from Whole Foods, working on recipes, talking to my cats, watching too much HBO On Demand, and maybe eating at the one vegetarian friendly restaurant in town (alone) every now and again. But I was only 50% right!

I’ve found so much energy here. Fun and creative people, a growing community of vegetarians and vegans, and good food (even a vegan restaurant that opened, and, uh, closed in the past year…but still.)

Doing Four Courses For Causes in Omaha took on a different meaning than meals I’ve served in New York City and Portland, where vegan pizza and local berries rained down from the skies (ouch!) When you’re serving in the shadows of feedlots and GMO corn, a plateful of local greens takes on a new significance. Knowing that this was the first seitan many people have eaten and the only vegan cream to ever pass through their lips, I knew I had to up my game.

But here’s the awesome thing: I didn’t have to do it alone! So many people came together to pull this event off. From the photography studio that generously lent us their space, to the restaurant owners who swooped in and chocolate dipped the strawberries and even cooked the risotto, it truly took a village! Or a moderately sized Midwestern city.

The organization we’re raising money for is pretty inspiring, too. Feline Friendz has a dedicated group of volunteers with a TNR (trap, neuter, release) mission, not to mention adoptions, fostering, and kitty health care. As a certified cat lady, this issue is so important to me, and with the rate that kittens are being bred, feral cat communities are ever expanding. But I do believe that with education and TNR we can bring an end to this in our lifetimes, and these volunteers are dedicating their lives to it. The absolute least I can do is put together a few strawberry shortcakes to help.

So thank you, thank you, thank you! To everyone who attended, to everyone who volunteered and to everyone reading this and making a difference where you live.

And more specifically, thank you: David Radler Studio for the space, Justin Limoges for the beautiful photos, all the volunteers: Tessa, What Cheer! (Denise, John Henry, Annora and Isaiah), Lauren and Dan, Greg, Jessica and Paul, dishwasher extraordinaire John McDevitt (Vegan Omaha) and Renate McDevitt for baking the cookies for the giftbags.

And of course, the local businesses! Blooms, for the precious flowers that graced each table. The small businesses that provided items for our giftbags, which helped to raise some extra cash: Greenstreets Cycles, Caffeine Dreams, Slowdown. Plus, the giftbag from the Omaha Chamber Of Commerce. And, finally, the groceries who provided discounts and donations: Jane’s Health Market and Hyvee.

Here are some photos from the evening (taken by Justin Limoges).

The tables are set.

Plating salads and skewers

Grilled Seitan In Raspberry Infused BBS Sauce, Caramelized Onion, Salad of Local Greens, Toasted Almonds and Raspberries

The diners await!

Carrot Bisque with Coconut Milk Swirl, Toasted Pumpkin Seeds and Green Onions

Creamy Pesto Risotto, Roasted Brussel Sprouts and Asparagus, Toasted Hazelnuts

Strawberry Shortcakes with Homemade Vegan Cream and Chocolate Dipped Strawberry

  • June 8, 2011 at 5:17 pm: Veg-in-Training

    Totally incredible spread. So happy for the kitties!

  • June 8, 2011 at 5:18 pm: Tracy S. Graber

    How elegant! Everything looks beautiful, not to mention YUMMEH! Thanks to Feline Friendz and the work they do, everyone who volunteered, and to YOU IsaChandra! <3

  • June 8, 2011 at 5:19 pm: Jen

    Everything looks so good! You are brilliant! Did this involve all of the ceramic cats in any way? Or is that yet to be revealed?

    • June 8, 2011 at 7:41 pm: IsaChandra

      That’s a different thing! I’ll reveal it at the end of June.

  • June 8, 2011 at 5:27 pm: b.vicious

    At least 2 people in the first picture appear to be pooping.

  • June 8, 2011 at 5:42 pm: Nick

    Way to go everyone! It all looks great and I hope you were able to raise a lot of money.

  • June 8, 2011 at 5:43 pm: Kira

    LOL @b.vicious’s comment. Gorgeous – especially the dessert.

  • June 8, 2011 at 5:50 pm: karla miller

    so lovely and delicious…ahhh! congratulations!

  • June 8, 2011 at 6:10 pm: lora haase

    SO beautiful!

  • June 8, 2011 at 6:54 pm: Marisa

    Seriously, Isa, that looked awesome! If you do this again for Feline Friendz, I swear I will do my level best to come to next one all the way from Canadia.

  • June 9, 2011 at 12:39 am: FoodFeud

    Gorgeous shots, great work and I’m so happy for all of you! I’m glad you’re really finding a nice niche in Omaha of all places, even though BROOKLYN MISSES YOU. I love the volunteer “Jump” shot.

  • June 9, 2011 at 6:17 pm: A. Cook

    LOVE this post–what amazing photos! Glad to hear the event was a success.

  • June 9, 2011 at 9:03 pm: Gina

    A beautiful expression of who you are–thanks for being you, and sharing that with us. And the impetus for the event (another “certified” cat lady, here), the gorgeous food produced, all heartwarming. But especially, your understanding and response to where you live now; rising to the challenge. And because of that, meeting other like-minded folk and seeing the possibilities. Wonderful, and inspiring on a few levels. Big thanks!

  • June 9, 2011 at 10:50 pm: sarah

    Nicely done Isa!! You rock. :)

  • June 9, 2011 at 11:39 pm: heather

    Isa, that food looks RIDICULOUS. Sometimes I wish that we could make an Isa clone for San Francisco. Also, wtf on the kitty front!

  • June 9, 2011 at 11:41 pm: heather

    WAIT. Not, “wtf”. “WTG”! WAY TO GO on the kitten front. :)

    • June 10, 2011 at 12:17 am: IsaChandra


  • June 10, 2011 at 8:07 am: WendyF

    That dinner looks amazing. I have rescued 4 kities. i am at my cat -limit. I adopt the unadopable. Chester with one good eye, Snax with an allergy to fleas, Sophie who was an older cat. They turned out to be all great cats , the people that passed them up every week at the adoption place did not know what they were missing.

  • June 10, 2011 at 3:24 pm: Kelly

    Great job! Everything looks fantastic. I wish I could’ve been there!

  • June 11, 2011 at 3:02 am: Diana @ VeggieNextDoor

    I liked how Vegansarus’s review suggests that you go on tour – seriously! go on tour! Come do a Kitty Benefit in Chicago!!!!!!!

  • June 11, 2011 at 3:39 am: Micah

    Totally with you the notion of food being a conduit and how you express love to the people you are preparing it for. I get a crazy amount of grief from certain members of my family about my diet preferences, so I can guess how it must be to be a meatless individual cooking in Omaha of all places. Those strawberry shortcakes with vegan cream look AMAZING!

  • June 12, 2011 at 10:22 pm: Veggie Tales

    The dessert looks so incredible! Frick. Awesome job Isa :D

  • June 12, 2011 at 10:23 pm: Veggie Tales

    ps I agree with Diana’s comment. Go on tour! Come to Canada!

  • June 18, 2011 at 9:47 pm: Allison Dubya

    This was awesome! My husband and I drove 6 1/2 hours from Chicago to come to this and it was totally worth it. I got to meet the lady who taught me how to cook, I got to help save the kitties, and I ate like a queen. It was incredible! Thanks, Isa, for all that you do!

  • July 1, 2011 at 5:59 am: NoviceVegan

    Yes, seconded and thirded…go on tour. The UK wants you.

  • July 9, 2011 at 9:03 am: Morten Skogly

    New to your site, thanks for introdusing me to seitan, never heard of it before! The skewers and the other dishes looks delicious, great combination of colors and textures. Rock on!

  • July 13, 2011 at 8:23 am: Mimi

    Amazing, wish I was there even though I don’t live anywhere even close to Omaha. Fantastic looking food, amazing cause.

  • May 20, 2013 at 11:57 pm: Alice

    Everything looks so amazing and delicious! Isa, you have been an inspiration to me and have made my transition into veganism a yummy adventure! Thank you :D x

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