By William K. Alcorn
Food From the Homefront, an aptly named tasting event hosted Saturday by the Recipes of Youngstown group to celebrate Veterans Day, benefitted the Armed Forces Student Association at Youngstown State University.
The event, which featured over 30 family dishes prepared by cooks whose recipes are included in the Recipes of Youngstown’s two recipe books, took place at the Mahoning Valley Historical Society’s Tyler History Center downtown, which also benefitted from proceeds of the event.
“Food is what draws people together. The recipe-tasting brings in a lot of people who may not otherwise know the facility is here. It’s a great partnership for us,” said Bill Lawson, MVHS executive director.
“We are so pleased with the dedication of the recipe group and the money it has raised. It’s a real game-changer for us,” Lawson said.
It has also been a game-changer for Bobbi Ennett, who founded Recipes of Youngstown on Facebook three years ago.
Ennett lived in California for 34 years before she and her husband came back here three years ago to retire. The 1971 graduate of The Rayen School, is a registered nurse.
Originally, there were about a dozen members, mostly family, of Recipes of Youngstown, who joined with Ennett to preserve and share the recipes of their Youngstown parents and grandparents.
“People in California make reservations, not recipes,” she said.
“It kind of mushroomed more than I could have imagined,” said Ennett, who discovered Youngstown has a national and international footprint.
“We’re very picky about who we let onto the Facebook site. We want family recipes and like them to be somehow attached to Youngstown,” she said.
Even with that proviso, Recipes of Youngstown has grown to more than 9,000 members.
The group has published two “Recipes of Youngstown” cookbooks, each with 500 different recipes, most from people who either lived here or had family here.
In addition to recipes, the cookbooks includes stories about the recipes or when they were used.
“Our Facebook people are like a family. We left the memories in the book. They are important. Memories are what keep us going,” Ennett said.
The patrons enjoyed themselves and the food.
Lindsay Plaskett of Canfield and Jorge Delarosa of Kent, on a date, both thought the food was great.
Plasket, who is back in the Youngstown area after living in San Diego, Calif., for eight years and in Brooklyn, N.Y., for four years, said she liked the kolachi, something she grew up eating at home. Delarosa said he “very much” enjoyed the chicken over biscuits and chili con carne, although, he said, the chili was not as good as his mom’s.
Demonstrating the variety of samples available were Val Jones of Beaver Township, who liked the pumpkin crisp and apple crisp, both with whipped cream; Tara Evans of Austintown, who “loved the haluski, and Carol Matune of Dublin, Ohio, who drove up for the event.
Akron Atty. Kathy Frazzini Culver of Akron, who grew up in Youngstown, volunteered to help with the 2016 recipe book and with the event.
“I’ve met the nicest people who give their time and money and expertise to put on this event. It is a compliment to Youngstown,” Culver said. This year’s tasting event attracted about 500 people and raised some $6,000 to be evenly split between MVHS and the YSU Armed Forces Student Association.
Among the small army of volunteers who cooked and served the food and performed other tasks was Army veteran Michael Tyler Buchenic, who served one tour of duty in Afghanistan in 2011 while on active duty. He is a senior who will graduate in December from YSU with a bachelor’s degree in marketing and finance.
Buchenic, son of Mark and Carla Buchenic of Canfield and brother of Kaylee Buchenic, a student at Kent State University, and Alex Buchenic, a student at John Carroll University, said it is important that somebody thinks about veterans, referring to the Food From the Homefront event.
“For sure, this is giving back,” he said of his volunteering as a server.
The “Recipes of Youngstown” cookbooks can be ordered online at the MVHS website at Mahoninghistory.org., or be purchased in person at the MVHA’s Arms Family Museum, 648 Wick Ave., and the Tyler History Center, 325 W. Federal St., both in Youngstown. For information, call 330-743-2589.