21 Aug 2014
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Jeff Ward: I am the Greatest ... Cook in Geneva, That Is!

If you thought I was obnoxious before, you oughtta read this column!

Jeff Ward: I am the Greatest ... Cook in Geneva, That Is!

Rick Nagel! You’re goin’ down! That’s right—I said it! When I’m done with you there’ll be nothing left but those wire rim glasses. You may have the final say so on just how far my magnificent Patch prose can go, but when it comes to cooking, I’m the boss!

You know what they say, Rick! If you can’t stand the heat …

Mike Oleson! You’re next! You may be the proud owner of —the downtown Geneva eatery that makes the best steak sandwich on the planet—but when it’s all said and done, I’m gonna own you!

An ahi tuna appetizer? While I certainly understand your sense of utter futility, the least you could do is mount some sort of serious challenge.

Justin Eggar! While we all enjoy your cogent column comments, I’ll be the one to have the last word on May 11! I will admit your “sexy stuffed mushrooms” make me nervous if for no other reason than I’m worried about being around a grown man who thinks that mushrooms are sexy.

Joe Grace! I’m sure running the Chronicle was a tough proposition, but it didn’t prepare you for me! Apparently the prospect of facing off against someone of my magnitude has you so nervous that you couldn’t even come up with dish!

State’s Attorney Joe McMahon—I want you! (Where’s Howard Cosell when you need him?) Your prosecutors may win 90 percent of their courtroom cases, but I’ll be the one pronouncing sentence when the gavels comes down in this comestible contest!

Which brings us to little ! You’re not fooling anyone, Tommy! My keenly honed journalistic instincts have taught me to recognize a wolf in sheep’s clothing when I see one. You didn’t think this third-grade cover story would hold up did you?

We may both work for The Beacon-News, Steve Lord, but when it comes to a life-and-death cooking competition like this one, it’s every man for himself! The “who, what, where, when and why” of this story will be Jeff Ward, outcooking every man in Geneva, at the “” event, at the Kane County Fairgrounds on the evening of May 11, to benefit the , and .

My only regret is that I won’t have the opportunity to beat my arch nemesis Terry Flanagan into a culinary pulp with his own loaf of Irish soda bread. Next year, Terry!

Before you start clogging up the column comments with yet another verbal spanking, charitable cooking contests aren’t for sissies! Like every other major sport, it’s a spectacle that demands some serious trash talking. Just like those ridiculous end zone dancers, if you got it, then you have to flaunt it.

And I got it.

You see, just like a Marine Corps boot camp graduate, I’ve been tested. For 20 long years I’ve been married to the likes of a woman who’s dietary restrictions are the stuff of legend.

Why, she’s even pickier than a spoiled 4-year-old who only eats sandwiches made with homemade bread, freshly ground peanut butter, and jelly that comes from grapes grown in the highest reaches of the Alps!

No dairy, no red meat, and no soy. Unless you wanna start looking an awful lot like a chicken, that pretty much narrows it down to Thai and Indian food.

So I’ll be whipping up a batch of my world-famous mutter paneer, a pea-and-cheese curry dish (she can handle paneer) that’s a staple in some parts of India. Lest you think the fact I’m cooking a non-native dish will actually give you a shot, my neighbor Paula, who grew up in India, says I make the best Mutter Panner she’s ever had. She said it was so good that I must’ve been Indian in a past life, which might explain that nagging urge to answer tech support calls.

Of course, with my presence in the mix, they’ll have to rework the phrase “60 celebrity cooks” to something more accurate like “one celebrity cook and 59 somewhat important people who can actually manage to make a dish that won’t kill you.”

So save the date! The Internet portal isn’t up yet, but tickets will soon be available for purchase at www.genevachamber.com. The evening will also include a cash bar and a raffle. 

If you do plan on attending—and who would be foolish enough to miss the opportunity to meet someone like me—I would encourage you to practice writing “Jeff Ward” right now. It’ll make it that much easier when the voting starts!

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