Olga Sokolo admits she’s a little nervous.
“You always want to believe that you are a good cook, and when you have to show it to other people, the pressure is on,” she said.
Sokolo is one of about 30 local chefs who will make a special dish for the sixth annual Divas (and Dudes) Dish fundraiser for the Glidden Homestead, 5:30 to 8 p.m. April 26 at the Barsema Alumni & Visitors Center on North Annie Glidden Road in DeKalb. The event is the homestead’s biggest fundraiser of the year, executive director Marcia Wilson said.
Sokolo said she is preparing borscht, a beet soup of Eastern European origin.
“This is a dish that I make for my family or Eastern European friends, since Americans are usually skeptical of beet dishes,” Sokolo said. “Most people, if they are not Eastern European, have never tried this soup. They have probably heard of it, but have never been around it. I wanted to introduce Divas Dish guests to some Eastern European cuisine.”
Other dishes on the program include Amish cinnamon bread, chicken soup with German noodles, “lay down” cake and cold Israeli couscous salad.
The first Divas Dish event was inspired by the local 50 Men Who Cook fundraiser, homestead board member Kathy Siebrasse said.
“Something primarily for women chefs wasn’t being done and was needed,” she said. “We added the ‘historic’ twist by asking chefs to use and pass along old family recipes.”
Jan Devore said her recipe for Jezebel Appetizer came from a Girl Scout friend now “well into her 80s.”
“Whether it is historic or not I do not know,” she said. “It’s simple and surprisingly tasty considering the ingredients. I also have no facts about why it’s called ‘Jezebel’ appetizer, but one online source states, ‘suitably named after that wanton woman: sweet and spicy.’”
Devore, another board member, said she participates to bring public awareness to the homestead, where Joseph F. Glidden first invented his barbed wire design that put DeKalb on the map.
“Visitors from DeKalb often mention that they didn’t know it’s there, right on Lincoln Highway,” she said.
Debbie Armstrong and Stacie Haugk prepare a dish together each year. The fundraiser is a chance to try something new each time, Armstrong said.
“It was her turn this year so we are making her taco dip,” Armstrong said. “We really enjoy getting together to prepare our dish and deciding how to decorate our table. That makes the event even more enjoyable for us.”
Each cook is given the option of sharing her recipe or keeping it secret. Armstrong said she and Haugk always share theirs.
“My recipes are usually ones that were passed down through our family by my grandma,” she said. “This is a way to honor her and to keep those memories alive for future generations.”
Wilson said this is the first year male chefs will be allowed to participate. Men cooked in groups with women in the past, but did not participate as individuals.
The event will also include a silent auction and performances at 6:15 and 6:45 p.m. by women’s music group Cymbal.
“It’s a lot of fun and a lot of good eating,” Wilson said. “And it supports a major historical site in the area.”
Tickets are $30 for one or $50 for two and are available at Castle Bank locations; the Daily Chronicle, 1586 Barber Greene Road in DeKalb; Glidden Homestead, 921 W. Lincoln Highway in DeKalb; by phone at 815-756-7904; or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Call before visiting the homestead for tickets.