Lotsa Latkes 2013

By Paula Gottlieb Herman

One of my most favorite ways to celebrate Chanukah is with a latke making party. Many years ago my aunt in Florida sent us a recipe card for Rainbow Latkes that incorporates zucchini and carrots in the batter. While that original recipe card which used to hang from a corkboard in our Brooklyn kitchen is long gone, here is my go-to recipe for similar latkes from Jewish Cookbook Author, Joan Nathan. Mixing in the additional vegetables boosts nutrition as well as visual appeal.

From our family to yours, may you have a healthy, happy, and low-stress holiday season!

Potato-Vegetable Latkes (yield: 24-36)

2 Large Potatoes
2 Large Carrots
2 Medium Zucchini
1 Large Onion
3 Eggs, beaten
½ tsp Salt
1/8 tsp Pepper
¾ cup Matzah Meal
Vegetable Oil for frying


  1. Peel the potatoes and carrots. Put the potatoes in cold water.
  2. Adult with Child: Under supervision, use the steel blade or the shredding blade to grate the zucchini, potatoes, carrots. and onion. Use the “pulse” button or turn the machine on and off frequently so the vegetables don’t turn into the soupy mess called a puree. Vegetables can also be grated by hand with an aluminum grater.
  3. Child: In a bowl, mix together the grated vegetables, beaten eggs, salt and pepper. Stir in the matzah meal. Shape the batter into pancakes using 1-2 tablespoons of mixture for each.
  4. Adult with Child: Fry the latkes, a few at a time, in 1-2 tablespoons hot oil for 1 ½ minutes per side. Add additional oil as necessary.
  5. Drain

Gobble Up These Bite-Size Mini Pumpkin Tarts


Happy Thanksgiving!

I cannot wait to share this delicious super-easy, yet elegant dessert, perfect for Turkey Day! We made it today with our after-school cooking students, and the kids and parents were begging for the recipe right after the classes ended, so they can make it for their holiday dessert tables.

The flavors of pure pumpkin, whipped topping, pumpkin pie spice, and vanilla or cheesecake instant pudding powder blended together, make an amazing filling to pipe or spoon into mini phyllo tart shells (available in the frozen food section of most supermarkets).

So, here's the recipe for you to enjoy!!

Happy Cooking,
Chef Paula

Mini Pumpkin Tarts

What you'll need

  • 3 packages (15 tarts each) prebaked frozen mini pastry shells (we used Athens Mini Fillo Shells)
  • 1 (15-ounce) can pumpkin
  • 2 cups (plus extra for garnish) frozen whipped topping, thawed
  • 1 teaspoon (plus extra for garnish) pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 (3.4-ounce) package of vanilla or cheesecake-flavor instant pudding and pie filling
  • Mint leaves (for garnish)

How to make it

  1. Remove the shells from the freezer and let them thaw at room temperature for 15 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, combine the pumpkin, pumpkin pie spice, and pudding mix in a medium bowl. Stir or whisk until smooth and thick. Fold in the whipped topping until uniform, but don't over mix.
  3. Spoon about 1 tablespoon of the filling into each of the shells (you can also pipe the filling with a pastry bag or a plastic food storage bag with one corner snipped off), then top the tarts with whipped topping, a sprinkling of the pumpkin pie spice, and a mint leaf, if you like. Makes 45 tarts.

2013 Food Network New York City Wine & Food Festival

logo27 chefs, 50,000 lbs. of chopped meat, 3,000 guests, 1 year of planning, and Burger Bash NYC 2013 was a huge success. This event is part of the Food Network NYC Wine & Food Festival that in five years has raised well over $6 million for charities that feed the homeless. We worked the beefy event, and relished a job well done (meat pun)!

Congratulations to Chefs Paul DenamielJosh Capon & Guy Fieri for winning Burger Bash at the 2013 Food Network New York City Wine & Food Festival, hosted by Rachael Ray, on Friday night at Pier 92 in Manhattan!

We are so proud to have volunteered at this event and to witness the true meaning of giving back. $1 million dollars was raised throughout the 4-day festival with the proceeds donated to the Food Bank For New York City & Share Our Strength's No Kid Hungry campaign.

We'll be uploading our photos and behind-the-scene stories of our adventures at the festival in future posts. Stay tuned!

Happy Cooking,
Chef Paula

Play With Your Food!

By Paula Gottlieb Herman

When we were young, how many times have we heard our moms say, "Don't play with your food!?" These days, that's a bulk of how I spend my time. I investigate food shapes, colors, textures, and try to recreate whimsical representations of the foods we all love. So, when Celebrity Chef Gail Chandler, Cake Lady-On the Scene Cuisine, asked me to create some cupcake toppers that she would use to decorate a cake she was serving to over 200 people at a recent magazine launch party for L.I.M.E. Social at Jewel in Melville, I jumped right on it. Cake_toppers_660_wm

Her two-tier creation included a pumpkin cake with layers of mango coulis and pumpkin mousse frosting and a vanilla cake with layers of sautéed black cherry and Bavarian crème topped with coconut milk frosting.

Since Chef Gail serves up gourmet meals right out of her mobile food truck, I crafted the kind of items that she sells.

Chef Paula's Cookie Sliders were front and center since they’re my most favorite whimsical treat to make. They start off with a sesame seed sprinkled Nilla Wafer bun, a Peppermint Patty burger, cheese & lettuce are shaped from Toostie Fruit Rolls, and a tomato crafted from either a red gum drop, or my newest find, Darrell Lea Strawberry Soft Eating Licorice. To see my tutorial on making these Grillin' Goodies, check out my August 30th posting.

Hot Diggity Dogs are made from a marshmallow circus peanut for the bun, Kraft Caramel Square for the dog rolled into a tube shape, red & yellow icing for ketchup & mustard, topped with green pickle relish which were little flecks of green gumdrops.

On Top of Spaghetti uses Keebler Simply Made Butter Cookies as a base topped with piped white chocolate spaghetti strands & a Ferrero Rocher candy dipped in strawberry preserves for the meatball and sauce, and white shaved chocolate makes great parmesan cheese.

Longing for Lo Mein has the same butter cookie base covered with melted coco-colored chocolate strands for the noodles, a broccoli floret which was actually a green Tootsie Roll cut in half and splayed apart, dotted with chocolate on the tips and then dipped in dark green sprinkles. Then for added effect, some roast pork bits were added, which were cut up pink Tootsie Rolls.

Short Stacks & Eggs are 3 Nilla Wafers stacked up as pancakes with a caramel square placed on top to make syrup. The syrup melts down the stack while briefly in the microwave. The final touch is to add a little pat of butter made from a yellow Tootsie Roll square. To go with the pancakes, I created Sunny-Side Up Eggs which were actually small white melted chocolate blobs and a yellow M&M yolk center.

3-Layer Choco Cakes are created by stacking 3 Nilla Wafers with melted chocolate piped between layers, and then melted chocolate was used for frosting the sides and top. Sprinkles, decorating icing, and mini marshmallow slivers finished the cakes.

There were definitely some challenges in figuring out ways to make the designs portable. Ordinarily, these cupcake toppers are placed on top of frosted cupcakes. So, I had to figure out another way to execute some of the food groups and make them more durable. Instead of frosting, I substituted melted chocolate on top of a butter cookie, and the spaghetti and lo mein came to life. This approach would give Chef Gail the flexibility of putting the toppers anywhere on her cake. Even if they were placed on their side or upside down, they would be sturdy and not roll off. All of the ingredients I used for this job were purchased at various supermarkets. So, you can still get a great end result without having to go to a specialty cake supply or craft store.

Truth be told, it took me 9 hours to create 24 of these li'l beauties for the event plus a few more for my portfolio. I guess I used up this month's quota of playing with my food. But, boy, did I have fun!! And, you will, too!!

We’d love to hear from you with comments, your own photos of these crafts, or with any questions.

Happy Cooking,

Chef Paula

Fashionista Cupcake Toppers

DSCF3699c_660Mirror Mirror on the Wall, Who Is the Fairest of Them All?

By Paula Gottlieb Herman

With Fashion Week quickly winding down here in NY, running from September 5-12, I thought it would be a great idea to post my Fashionista Cupcake Toppers. Every makeup tool is edible! Soft Eating Licorice is the star of this project runway, since it became the handle for the mascara wand (add a mini pretzel stick, dip in melted chocolate, and sprinkle on chocolate jimmies), the top of the nail polish bottle (use pretty girly color Laffy Taffy for the polish), the tube for the lipstick (with your fingertips, mold your favorite pucker up color from a Tootsie Roll or Laffy Taffy), and the blush brush handle (soft caramel chew sculpted to look like the bristle head). Soft Eating Licorice is an Australian candy, much more pliable to work with, absolutely delicious, and available in the candy aisle at supermarkets, specialty markets, and even drug stores.

I came up with the idea to make the eye shadow trio palate out of a 1/4 Hershey bar and Laffy Taffy for the powders. The eye shadow brush is made from another little pretzel stick coated in melted chocolate and the sponge tip is a white Tootsie Roll (or you can use a slightly flattened mini marshmallow). I also created the blush compact out of 2 Nilla Wafers, a white Toostsie roll (mirror), and pink Tootsie roll (blush). For extra "bling" you can paint on silver luster/pearl dust or add silver sprinkles to the mirror.

These Fashionista Cupcake Toppers are ideal for Mom's Night Out, Bridal Showers, Sweet 16's, or any time you want to add a little splash of color to your life!

If you like this post, please like/share/comment on it!

Tradition: Something Old, Something New

By Paula Gottlieb Herman

When we hear the phrase, “Something old, something new,” we automatically think of a wedding. But, I think of it as the possibility of blending holiday rituals with a new spin.

Challah and HoneyI grew up in Brooklyn as an only child to two of the most giving and amazing parents. Food, as in many Jewish homes, was the centerpiece of our existence.  Mom was a fabulous cook who never measured anything, but her meals came out consistently delicious every time. Dad taught me to read with Bon Appetit Magazine and Gourmet, and to be passionate about food.

At our holiday table, I especially loved Mom’s Chicken Fricassee with chicken wings, little meatballs, and tender onions and garlic in brownish gravy. So, when I got married, that was the one recipe I begged her for. She would make it for Rosh Hashanah and other holidays as a hearty appetizer. The only problem was that she had no recipe card, no newspaper or magazine cutout, or any real measurements to work with. So as a new bride, I invited her over to my kitchen table, and had assembled a food scale, measuring cups and measuring spoons, before she arrived.

Now, when I asked her how much salt she used in the recipe, she would take a handful of salt, and I would transfer it to a measuring spoon. The same for paprika, black pepper, garlic, etc. Her fistful of matzo meal was poured into measuring cups, too. By the end of this cooking lesson, I had all the amounts necessary to recreate Mom’s signature dish that would bring smiles to all of my future guests sitting around my holiday table.

Sadly, Mom never got to taste my version of her Chicken Fricassee. She died Erev Rosh Hashanah 2005. But, a part of her is at every holiday meal I create. That’s when I got to thinking that holidays should be a blend of something old and something new. We should honor basic traditions but create some new family ones also.

So, this Rosh Hashanah, here are some tips to enhance your family’s holiday:

1.   Pick Your Own Apples. Rather than buying your apples at the supermarket, go and pick them at one of our local fruit farms. When you dip those crisp slices of apple into honey, it will be even more meaningful, since your family plucked them off the trees themselves.

2.   Honey Tasting. Purchase a few assorted brands and flavors of honey in advance of the holiday, and have a honey tasting. Set out an array of sliced fruits, crackers, cheeses, see which honey your family likes the best, and serve that one on the holiday.

3.   Apple Crafts. With some of your extra apples from your apple picking adventure, have the kids decorate apple placemats, holiday cards, place cards, napkins, and welcome signs with apple print stamps (made from halved or quartered apples dipped in paint).

4.   Preserve Your Recipes. Even if your children haven’t cornered you yet for your recipes, your holiday table will contain many recipes from different sources. Take the time to gather them together into your own holiday cookbook. Whether you share it with them now or later, it will be a valuable family heirloom.

5.   Make a New Dish or Dessert. To keep things fresh and interesting each holiday, add in at least one new dish or dessert to your menu. It’s great to have your tried and true recipes on hand, but it’s also wonderful to create something different to excite those taste buds!

We wish you a bountiful and memorable Jewish New Year!

Happy Cooking,
Chef Paula
LilChefs.com Special Events

P.S. Please feel free to contact me if you would like Mom’s recipe for Chicken Fricassee.

Grillin’ Goodies

By Paula Gottlieb Herman

Happy Labor Day!! It’s so hard to believe that the summer is almost over, but you have one more chance to fire up the grill, invite family and friends over, and enjoy the last tastes of the season.

Or, if you’re like me, you never want the fun to end. So, this summer, I’ve been hard at work creating whimsical treats that you can do, too. They’re perfect for this holiday weekend, any summer barbecue, April Fool's Day, Father's Day, Junk Food Day (July 21), or whenever you want to celebrate the burger throughout the year!

Learn exactly how to make Chef Paula’s Cookie Sliders, Itsy Bitsy Burger Tables, and Grillin’ Cupcake Toppers by sharing with the buttons below. There are also more cute photos!

[sociallocker id="1162"] ChefPaula'sCookieSlidersFirst, I made my Chef Paula’s Cookie Sliders for The Old Homestead Steak House in NYC. While they look like the delicious meat sliders they sell, they are actually made from Nilla Wafers (buns), Peppermint Patties (burgers), yellow Tootsie Rolls (cheese) “melting” down the sides, and green & red gum drops (lettuce & tomato). I especially loved creating the French fries in a paper pouch (Nilla Wafers microwaved 3 seconds at a time for a total of 9 seconds since they can burn easily). The goal is to get them just soft enough so you can cut them with scissors. The pouches were made from scrapbooking paper.

To add to the slider’s authenticity, I added sesame seeds to the top of each bun. You can paint on a little corn syrup, honey, warmed apricot jam, or water, and sprinkle on the seeds. I like using corn syrup since it dries the quickest. The lettuce and tomato were created by cutting the gum drops in half and rolling them out with a fondant roller. Once flattened, you then use your fingertips to create the desired shape. You can sprinkle a little sugar on your mat to make it easier to roll out. I just used the roller and the mat. A simpler way to achieve the lettuce is to put some shredded coconut into a Ziploc bag, add a little green food coloring, and shake. Then, you will have shredded lettuce. Instead of a tomato slice, you can use some red decorator icing sold in tubes for the ketchup.

DSCF3724cNext, I created my Itsy Bitsy Burger Tables featuring miniature burgers that are made with Golden Mini Oreo Bite Size Cookies (buns), Mini Oreo Bite Size Cookies (burgers), yellow Tootsie Rolls (cheese), green Tootsie Rolls (lettuce leaves), and the red gum drop tomato slices. I really enjoyed making the lettuce a third way. I rolled out a small piece of green Tootsie Roll, marked the veins of the lettuce lightly with a butter knife, and then curled the edges up or down to create the leaf. And of course, sesame seeds topped those buns!

The table was actually a whole Nabisco Graham Cracker supported by Vanilla Sugar Wafer legs. I used melted chocolate to glue the legs in place. After a while, these tables will begin to buckle in the middle, so I would recommend attaching the legs right before serving. I used Gefen Vanilla Wafers for the legs. They are longer and sturdier than some of the other brands. So, one cookie cut in half provided me with two legs. I used another half wafer for the middle leg to give the table a little more structural integrity. Along with the adorable sliders, I added some of my fries (Nilla Wafers) and bottles of soda (Haribo Happy Cola Gummi Candy). For an extra little flair, you can place a “dinner plate” under each slider with a Necco wafer candy. Yum!

DSCF3722aLastly, I created Grillin’ Cupcake Toppers made from melted chocolate piped onto parchment in the shape of grill tops. Then, I added cheeseburgers without the buns, using the same Mini Oreo Bite Size cookies for the burgers and yellow Tootsie Rolls for the cheese. To make the grills the right size, I traced the top of my largest sprinkles container on card stock 6 times, and laid the parchment paper over it. That way, I could pipe/trace the melted chocolate onto the parchment. I transferred the parchment onto a cookie sheet and popped it into the freezer for a few minutes so the chocolate grills would harden. Once firmed up, I carefully lifted off the grill tops with a spatula, and placed each onto a frosted cupcake.

And, what’s a barbecue without kebabs? I made kebabs with Gummi Bears cut into thirds and skewered onto a toothpick. Thread the ingredients onto the toothpick varying the colors. With enough cupcake toppers on your display, you can get really inventive with the food you’re grillin’. Burgers, kebabs, steaks, chicken, fish, and veggies can all be made by shaping candy, cookies, fondant, candy clay, modeling chocolate (melted chocolate morsels and light corn syrup), or any ingredients you come up with. Let those creative juices flow![/sociallocker]

All of these Grillin’ Goodies were so much fun to make! So, whether you do them by yourself or with the kids, they will be loved by your guests, and receive high marks for originality, cuteness, and taste!

If you have any questions about these projects, please email me. I would be happy to share more information on techniques, helpful tips, and ingredient substitutions. Also, if you do make any of these treats, please share your experiences with me, and send along some photos of your finished pieces.

Happy Grillin’!

Chef Paula

Lotsa Matzo Memories

By Paula Gottlieb Herman

What does The Mama Doni Band, matzo warm from the oven, chocolate layered marble halvah, and a pressed chicken sandwich all have in common? They were some of the amazing treats I experienced on the Lower East Side last Sunday.

The Lower East Side has always held a special place in my heart since my Dad was born there, my Bubbe taught me to make chicken soup there; we could buy pickles from a barrel, delicious knishes of every flavor, bialys with just the right amount of onion, and the most delicate flavored smoked fish.  As a little girl, after my first subway ride from our apartment in Brooklyn to Manhattan, I was hooked!

Chef Paula with Mama Doni

Chef Paula with Mama Doni at the Streit's Mazo Factory

On Sunday, March 10th, I reconnected with these roots by first attending Passover Palooza, the musical performance of Mama Doni and her band at the Streit’s Matzo Factory on Rivington Street, and then leading a walking tour to a few of Dad’s old haunts.

Read more »

Goin’ Back With Al Roker

By Paula Gottlieb Herman

Would he remember me? Would I get the chance to tell him that I, too, made a pledge to honor my Dad’s memory? Would he get to hear about my cooking parties? Would he recognize the silver pin I wore on my suit, a staff Christmas gift he bought me many moons ago? Those were the questions dancing around in my head on Tuesday, January 8th at 7:00 PM. That evening, Al Roker was scheduled to do a book signing at Book Revue in Huntington. His newest book, Never Goin’ Back chronicles his battle with weight, and his promise to his dying father, that he would get serious about losing it.

Al and I worked together at NBC News on a variety of shows, Sunday Today, Weekend Today, and Today. I began my career at the Peacock Network in August 1986, and left my beloved NBC in October 1993, when my position as a Production Coordinator was eliminated, during a division-wide lay-off, and coincidentally, the same time my Dad was diagnosed with kidney disease. Rather than working 80 hours a week at 30 Rock finding the right “talking head” or making travel arrangements for guests, I was able to research treatments and specialists to help Dad preserve his remaining renal function.

It had been at least two decades since I produced segments with Al. My favorites included “Fugu & Wagyu,” (Japanese Blowflish and Hand-Massaged Kobe Beef), “Cirque du Soleil Nouvelle Experience,” “Stuttering,” and a bunch of live segments featuring cooking gadgets and outdoor cooking.  Al was smart, funny, and wrote a great script.  He was a pleasure to work with, except when there was a weather emergency, hurricane, or earthquake. Those years, he was doing the local WNBC-TV weather at 5:00, 6:00 and 11:00, as well as our network weekend or weekday Todayshows. So, I had to pray for sunny skies, in order for him to be available to do the interviews I set up.
Read more »

2nd Annual Harry Potter Halloween Workshop

Harry Potter Soars Again

By Paula Gottlieb Herman

Wizard wands, potions, spell duels, and cupcake cauldrons magically delighted families at the 2nd Annual Harry Potter Halloween Workshop with LilChefs.com on Sunday, October 21st.  Families from Manhattan, Queens, Nassau and Suffolk were greeted by me, Chef Paula, owner of LilChefs.com Special Events, dressed in a purple wizard robe and hat, instead of my trademark chef coat and chef hat. I was accompanied by an assortment of wizards representing Dumbledore’s Army Clubs from LIU Post and Five Towns College.  The first 30 minutes of the each workshop included visiting the live Animals Exhibit at the Center for Science Teaching & Learning in Rockville Centre.  Barred owls, snakes, lizards, turtles and more were on display to get the new Hogwarts in the right spell-binding mood along with a Harry Potter trivia contest.

The families then entered the Great Hall by uttering a secret password. Once inside, they could visit multiple stations including the Wand Making station where the li’l wizards could add magical ingredients to give their wand special powers such as Unicorn Hair, Dragon Heartstring, Phoenix Tail Feather, and Thestral Tail Hair.  Or the Transfiguration Booth where they could try on articles of clothing and props such as wands, neckties, scarves, glasses, snitches, marauder’s map and pose for family photos in front of the mural painted by the LIU Post Dumbledore’s Army Club. The mural, created last year for the 1st Annual Harry Potter Halloween Workshop, displayed the castle up on a bluff, an elder’s wand, owl carrying a message, and Harry Potter logo. For extra authenticity, two face painters could also transfigure any wizard into an animal or other character with the stroke of their paint brushes. And for those more daring, a Potions Table was set up to tempt the wizards with canisters of delectable tasting items but with disgusting names such as Blood Worms (red string licorice), Blind Cat Eyes (mini marshmallows), Hollow Stump Soil (chocolate cookie crumbs),  and Gillyweed (green Gatorade with shreds of coconut floating on top).

Harry Potter themed music played in the background as the families gathered for the Sorting Hat Ceremony. A stool with the Hogwarts crest was positioned by the mural and I placed the brown all-knowing sorting hat on each child’s head. The wizards-in-training were given their house assignment by the talking hat in a big, booming voice. Once sorted, the new Hogwarts took their places at the long table representing their house.  Each of the four tables could be located by the handmade centerpiece created just for them by two LIU Post students.  All of the centerpieces had a wooden painted letter attached to a base and a mason jar with color coded glass beads and feathery plumes poking out. I especially loved the Gryffindor’s centerpiece with the red “G” and red glass beads.  Each table also displayed their house’s formal crest. Above each table, candles were magically floating, just like in the original Great Hall from the Harry Potter movies. Hand-painted banners with all the house crests proudly hung in the room, too.

Since food is always such a big part of any LilChefs.com event, this one was no exception. I set up a lavish buffet for the guests to enjoy a glass of creamy Butterbeer (skillfully mixed by a Five Towns College wizard with cream soda, butterscotch topping, and whipped cream), Herbology Bites (sliced baguette with vegetable cream cheese and English cucumber topper), Pumpkin Pasties (pumpkin and gingerbread mini cakes), Rock Cakes (chocolate brownie bites), vegetable crudités, cheese platter, cauldron of assorted crackers, and Elixir of Life (bottled water).

Once the wizards and their families were fed, I called up each house, one at a time, to start working with me to craft the Harry Potter snacks. First, Wizard Wands were conjured up with either a pretzel rod or licorice stick dipped in melted chocolate. Then the wands could be decorated with Halloween-colored sprinkles, coconut, or chocolate crumbs. Next, Crunchy Cockroaches were created with a dollop of chocolate encrusted with raisins and broken pretzel bits.  Acid Pop Lollipops are always a crowd pleaser among the kids and the parents who wax nostalgically about their first experience with Pop Rocks. Packets of Blue Razz Pop Rocks were given out along with a 3 oz. cup of water, and a choice of Blow Pop Lollipops. The kids were instructed to unwrap the lollipop, to slightly dampen the pop with water (or they could lick it a few times), then dip the pop in Pop Rocks. The crackles and the smiles were both great to see and hear! The last craft was Cupcake Cauldrons. Devils food or yellow sponge cupcakes were displayed on 3-tier Halloween pedestals alongside chocolate and vanilla puddings, gummy frogs, gummy brains, gummy worms, and black licorice. The goal was to hollow out a small well in the middle of the cupcake, pour in some pudding, then lace the cauldron with some creepy crawly critters and to attach a black licorice handle. Who knew creepy things could taste so yummy?

The last half hour of the event was designed to showcase the college students from the Dumbledore’s Army Clubs. Since all the wizards-in-training had their wands, now they needed to know what those wands were capable of. Two adult wizards demonstrated various spells during a spell duel, and then individual li’l wizards were coached to come up and cast a spell to combat an adult wizard. Some of our littlest wizards packed quite a wallop as the adult wizard opponent had his legs become wobbly by the Jelly-Legs Jinx or rendered unconscious by hearing the Stupefy Stunning Spell.

The finale of the 2nd Annual Harry Potter Halloween Workshop With LilChefs.com was the musical performance of “Going Back To Hogwarts” from “A Very Potter Musical.”  Harry, Ron, and Hermione were flanked by a wizardly chorus of singers. The routine was amazing, animated, and showed the true spirit and talent of these college students we had the privilege to work with for the last month. We attended their Wednesday club hours at LIU Post as they created paper wands for all of our wizards, painted banners, constructed centerpieces, rehearsed the musical number, and came up with trivia questions. We were blessed to have so many interested students collaborating with us for way more than the community service credits they received from LIU Post and Five Towns College, and an inspiring club advisor (LIU Post), who breathed even more life into the event we created.

After the entertaining finale, our way to end the event was to give out special awards for the best costumes. We handed out Hershey Bars dressed up in “Most Original Costume,” Best Costume,” and “Scariest Costume” wrappers. All wizards left with a specially designed goody bag that we made up with a “Harry Potter Halloween With LilChefs.com” label, broomstick pen engraved with LilChefs.com, Harry Potter geek glasses, rubber bracelet, Halloween pencil, recipe book with all of the Harry Potter snacks we made, and a personalized diploma.

It was our pleasure to host four children from Ronald McDonald House of Long Island and two children from Make A Wish Foundation of Long Island. These children, who are being treated for a variety of medical conditions at local hospitals, had a chance to just be kids or wizards, if only for a few hours.  We were also happy to offer complimentary tickets to winners from the Treat of the Day Contest by NYMetroParents.com and our own internal LilChefs.com ticket contest.

The energy in the Great Hall was magnetic for these two sessions. Children, adults, wizards, and a chef all witnessed something magical. One of our littlest wizards who attended our morning workshop, age 4.5 came dressed in his Harry Potter outfit, and was completely wowed by the workshop. In an email I received the next day, his mom said, “The Harry Potter Workshop was amazing and such a wonderful experience!  My son had the best time and has been talking about it since the event. It was so much fun and entertaining, and one of the best family events we have ever participated in! Thank you so much for preparing and hosting such an amazing event for children! I would also like to express a special thank you to the Dumbledore’s Army and CSTL group. Oh my gosh, they were so great and made the event even more special. I can’t rave enough about them and LilChef’s!

Thank you to all who made this event such a spooktacular one!! We are hard at work preparing for next year’s seasonal events.  We hope to see you all in 2013!