Food, Creativity, and Community


The old adage you are what you eat is only half true. Just as important as what we eat, is who we eat with and how that experience of sharing a meal with others shapes our lives. While our most meaningful life events like first dates, weddings and baby showers are often marked by a special meal, an established meal-time like family dinner can be the true heartbeat of our lives that pulls us through the mundane and keeps relationships in pace together.

For our family, the preparation and enjoyment of evening meal has become sacred. We rarely eat out, because of some tricky food allergies, so nearly every meal is prepared at home from scratch and enjoyed around the table together. My wife, artist Jen Craun, and I slide into the kitchen usually about a half-hour before dinner to start preparing the meal together over a glass of wine. This is a time for us to catch up on our days while also pouring love into the food we are preparing together. This simple routine allows us to try new eating experiences as a family while fulfilling the fundamental need for nourishment.

Experimenting with new ingredients, flavor ways, and textures enriches our daily lives and often becomes a touch point for other family and friends through sharing recipes and inviting people into our home to enjoy the food together. Creativity in cooking is the easiest way to spice up our lives and is so much fun because everyone has different taste. This is why I love Chili Cook Offs. Chili may be the most flexible comfort food because it is so open ended by definition: a thick sauce of meat and chilis (Mirriam-Webster), which makes it so much fun to make and enjoy.

Our family attended the annual Art House Chili Cook-off Benefit for the third year in a row with great anticipation of the fun, friends and creativity of the contending chilis. The four of us scrupulously tasted and scored each chili sample, noting the unique qualities that stood out to our tastebuds. The ten Chili Contenders had such variety and interesting ingredient combinations that it was very difficultly to vote for just one. In the end, all four of us voted for a different chili, because they were all so good!

Congratulations to our winners: Bill Graham in 3rd place for his B&R Bunkhouse Bonaza, Doug Pease in 2nd place for Doug’s Kicking Tailgate Chili, and Selina Pagan in 1st place for Maduro Chili. Thank you Art House Staff, Board, Volunteers, and especially the Artists who donated the beautiful bowls and the Chefs who created such delicious chili for all of us to enjoy. If you missed the chili cook-off at Art House this year, mark your calendar for the first week in March next year, but don’t wait until then to enjoy a creative dish with your family and friends!

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Our mission is inspire exploration and expression through the visual arts. By fulfilling this mission, Art House stabilizes our neighborhood and creates opportunities for artists to thrive. By extension, the organization contributes significantly in the creation of Cleveland as a culturally rich and economically viable destination to live, work and raise a family. 

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Tel: 216.398.8556

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Email: esplain@arthouseinc.org

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