Calling all History Foodies! Community Cook-Off on April 5

February 28, 2013 · Press Releases

Connecticut Historical Society hosts food social, linking past with present

Hartford, CT (February 26, 2013) In the spirit of  the cooking contests that first took place in the United States in late 1940s-60s and in celebration of retro classics, family favorites, and comfort food, the Connecticut Historical Society will host a Community Cook-Off on April 5, 2013 from 5:30-7:30pm. Entries will compete in four light-hearted categories designed to evoke your best and worst food memories:

  • Not-So-Secret Ingredients Challenge (Bacon, Chocolate and Poblano peppers)
  • From Grandma’s Kitchen (Recipes off the Family Tree)
  • What’s in that casserole, anyway?!
  • I didn’t know you could do that with Jell-OTM

Celebrity judges MaryEllen Fillo ( The Hartford Courant, JAVA), Kara Sundlun (WFSB, Better Connecticut), Chion Wolf (WNPR, Colin McEnroe Show), Krystian von Speidel ( Hartford Magazine) and Caitlin Croswell (Food blogger, will award bragging rights (and prizes, thanks to while everyone in attendance enjoys great food from The Pond House, beer from Thomas Hooker Brewing Company and wines provided by CT Valley Views.

Rounding out the evening will be guided tours of the exhibit, Cooking by the Book: Amelia Simmons to Martha Stewart, and a trip down food memory lane with our celebrity judges. In addition, there will be a canned food drive for Hands On Hartford to benefit unmet community needs within the Hartford area. The event is open to the public, including those who do not enter the competition. Entries must be registered in advance. For more information, tickets, or to enter a dish in the competition, visit

The Connecticut Historical Society exhibit, Cooking by the Book: Amelia Simmons to Martha Stewart, traces the changes in cooking and its impact on society through iconic American cookbooks dating from the 18th century to present day. Cooking by the Book: Amelia Simmons to Martha Stewart was developed by students in the Public History graduate program of Central Connecticut State University (CCSU) using the CHS collection and designed by students in the Visual Communication Design program of the Hartford Art School, University of Hartford and is on view at CHS until April 13,  2013. Of note within the exhibit is one of only four surviving first editions of Amelia Simmons’ American Cookery, America’s first cookbook, published in Hartford, CT in 1796.

In the spirit of community cookbooks first published during the U.S. Civil War, a Connecticut community cookbook Kickstarter project is also a work-in-progress. If funded, the cookbook, Connecticut Homemade: Recipes from Nutmeggers’ Kitchens, will include family recipes passed down through generations from across Connecticut, as well as winning recipes from the Community Cook-Off. All backers of $25 or more will receive a copy of the community cookbook.


About MaryEllen Fillo (@MaryEllenFillo):

MaryEllen Fillo is an award-winning reporter who writes the popular Java celebrity and A La Carte food columns for the Hartford Courant ( and She also writes a column for Hartford Magazine and New Haven Magazine. Her daily Java column features celebrity interviews, local television news, parties and gala happenings and offers an “inside look” at what’s going on around Hartford and beyond. Her weekly A La Carte column each Thursday highlights new and area restaurants as well as dining news, trends and updates. She also appears on Fox CT and can be heard on WDRC AM with Brad Davis and WDRC FM with Jerry Kristafer.

About Kara Sundlun (@KaraSundlun):

Kara Sundlun is a two-time Emmy Award-winning journalist, for Outstanding Reporting and General Assignment Story. Along with her work on Better Connecticut she anchors the noon news on WFSB. She has been honored in the “40 under 40” young professionals list in the Hartford Business Journal and as the Best TV News Reporter by Hartford Magazine.

About Chion Wolf (@ChionWolf):

Chion Wolf is a voice actress, producer, and photographer with WNPR, Connecticut Public Radio, and is best known for her work with the Colin McEnroe Show. In addition, she is a passionate & certified International Chili Society Judge along with her father, Peter, who always brought the whole family to ICS cookoffs through out her childhood.

About Krystian von Speidel (@HartfordMag)

Krystian is a contributing writer for the Hartford Advocate, Hartford Magazine, and New Haven Living Magazine, as well as a contributing editor at New York Cottages & Gardens and Hamptons Cottages & Gardens. His entertaining and interior design column “At Home With” appears regularly in Hartford Magazine and he’s interviewed countless chefs for the Advocate’s TMI column. A native of Poland and a current resident of Hartford’s historic West End neighborhood, Krystian has an extensive collection of vintage Junior League cookbooks from around the country and a self-professed “European’s delight in the insouciant freedom of American cuisine.”

About Caitlin Croswell (@CaitPlusAte):

Caitlin is a new media food blogger from Connecticut whose love for food, restaurants, and fitness led to her develop in September of 2011. Her passion for balancing nutrition and fitness, as well as documenting and highlighting her food journey, is shared several times a week with like-minded foodies online. Caitlin enjoys reporting to readers her experiences dining out in Connecticut, often promoting the diversity of the area, as well as at-home healthy meal ideas and fitness trends.

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