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SATURDAY JULY 24 | SUNDAY JULY 25 2021

SUNDAY BREAKFAST

WEEKEND WEATHER

Meet Highland Park resident and Keshet CEO/President Jen Phillips P14

Saturday, Partly cloudy, 40% chance of storms, high 85 Saturday night, Partly cloudy, 40% chance of storms, low 72 Sunday, Mostly sunny, high 87

INSIDE NEWS

Citadel Theatre's anniversary gala evokes Gatsby glam P10 FOLLOW US:

NO. 458 | A JWC MEDIA PUBLICATION

CHICAGO BORN & BAKED GLENCOE NATIVE LINDA FRIEND STEPS AWAY FROM THE MIXING BOWL TO SHARE THE CREATION OF HER WHIMSICAL COOKIES.

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Linda Friend and her daughter, Nina. PHOTOGRAPHY BY SAMANTHA PARQUETTE

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SATURDAY JULY 24 | SUNDAY JULY 25 2021 |

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INDEX

NEWS

10 villa gatsby

CHICAGO SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA Returning to Ravinia for its 85th summer residency 15 concerts over 6 weeks | JULY 9 – AUGUST 15

and welcoming

MARIN ALSOP in her first season as Ravinia’s Chief Conductor & Curator

Citadel Theatre celebrates its 20th anniversary with a "Villa Gatsby, Let the 2020s Roar" gala

LIFESTYLE & ARTS

12 north shore foodie Fresh garden tomatoes and herbs elevate this homemade tomato soup recipe

LAST BUT NOT LEAST 14 sunday breakfast

Get to know Keshet CEO President Jen Phillips, whose climb to the nonprofit's top post began as a Keshet camp counselor 27 years ago

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CONTRIBUTING EDITORS Wendy Franzen, Dustin O'Regan, Kemmie Ryan, Sherry Thomas, Megan Weisberg

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| SATURDAY JULY 24 | SUNDAY JULY 25 2021

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SATURDAY JULY 24 | SUNDAY JULY 25 2021 |

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NEWS CHICAGO BORN & BAKED

From PG 1

BY RYAN HUDGINS THE NORTH SHORE WEEKEND

Linda Friend was taught from an early age that the best tools in the kitchen are your hands. “Except if you’re in a commercial kitchen during COVID-19, then you need to use a mixing bowl,” laughs the Glencoe native. Friend, a third-generation Chicago entrepreneur, has spent numerous years searching for the perfect chocolate chip cookie. Hundreds of batches and taste-testings later, Friend launched big.fat.cookie in 2015, with its whimsical colors and extravagant ingredient combinations. Shortly following its creation, Friend began selling her cookies at the United Center, which provided a springboard to sell to other companies. Now her cookies are sold at several places within the city, including all Foxtrot locations, Dom’s Market, select Freshii locations, and the South and West Loop Markets. The assorted pack, featuring classic chocolate chip cookies—Friend’s personal favorite—oatmeal raisin, triple chocolate, and mixed, is the most popular. The company also offers numerous seasonal and

“LL + BF = NJM” on her package, and she explained that it was her initials, plus her husband’s equals their children. Prior to starting big.fat.cookie, Friend spent over 25 years designing and manufacturing jewelry in Chicago and Rhode Island for her own company, Linda Levinson Designs. Her American-made company, with jewelry worn by First Ladies of the United States, eventually closed in 2015 because it could not compete against less expensive raw material and labor overseas. It was the end of this chapter that led her to return to her roots and lifelong passion for baking. “I have vivid memories of being in the kitchen with my grandmother and my mom, baking cookies,” Friend says. “My grandmother would come to visit from New Jersey and I would be like ‘when are we making cookies?’” Like her jewelry, each cookie is made in small batches with meticulous attention to detail. But the recipe is not complete. To this day, Friend continues to modify it and asks her team of nine for their input. “I’m still perfecting,” Friend says. “I’m constantly tweaking it, and the people in the kitchen are going crazy. They’ll say, ‘you told me two tablespoons yesterday!’ I’m like ‘I know, let’s just try three tablespoons today.’” For more information, visit eatmebigfatcookie.com or arrange for pickup at 1030 North Hooker Street in Chicago.

holiday packs, but the “Nina,” named after her daughter, holds a special place in her heart. As do the three other packs named after family members and launching this summer—Big Jack, Matt’s Multiple O, and of course, Big Daddy. Not only does she honor her loved ones in the names of the packs, but the exterior cookie packaging itself also features inside jokes, abbreviations, and odes to her family. A customer recently asked Friend what the significance was of the graphic

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| SATURDAY JULY 24 | SUNDAY JULY 25 2021

THE NORTH SHORE WEEKEND


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NEWS

VILLA GATSBY LAKE FOREST’S AWARD-WINNING CITADEL THEATRE IS SET TO CELEBRATE A MILESTONE ANNIVERSARY IN SEPTEMBER WITH A GALA THAT EVOKES ROARING 2020S GLAM. BY ELLEN PHELPS THE NORTH SHORE WEEKEND

Citadel Theatre of Lake Forest is celebrating its 20th anniversary this fall with “Villa Gatsby, Let the 2020’s Roar!” The organization’s 7th annual gala aptly takes inspiration from author F. Scott Fitzgerald’s magnum opus, The Great Gatsby. Fitzgerald modeled character Daisy Buchanan after Ginevra King, a Lake Forest socialite with whom he famously fell in love one summer. “Villa Gatsby, Let the 2020’s Roar!” will be held on September 25 at the David Adler-designed estate home of Nancy and Adrian Smith at 830 North Green Bay

Road in Lake Forest. The evening will include a tour of the home, guest house, and grounds. A seated dinner, silent and live auction, live entertainment, and dancing will also take place, with a possible repeat of unexpected swimming at the end of the evening. Citadel Theatre, founded in 2002, seeks to provide a creative haven for passionate, visionary theatrical artists and a home for audiences seeking the emotional and intellectual richness that quality theater inspires. Its award-winning mainstage produces a variety of theatrical productions spanning the genres of comedy, drama, musicals, the classics, and new works. The company’s mission is fulfilled through mainstage productions, community engagements, and the Citadel Cares

program, which makes theater accessible to underprivileged individuals and families by working with park districts, senior centers, veteran and military groups, and other local nonprofit organizations. Its education program is integral to the organization as well. Designed to mold the next generation of theater professionals, Citadel Theatre classes give students the opportunity to explore, create, and discover their artist within. Founded by a group of actors wanting to bring the experience of professional theater to Lake Forest, Citadel Theatre was conceived in the basement Gorton Community Center as an alternative to Chicago theater. Citadel quickly outgrew the space, moving in 2009 to a new 144-seat theater. Since moving, Citadel has expanded its educational programs; become an Equity

Theater Company (2015); launched the Citadel Cares Program (2016); and won its first Jefferson Award (2018). Over the last 19 years, Citadel has blossomed into a thriving, intimate theater company that is beloved by the community of Lake County. For “Villa Gatsby, Let the 2020’s Roar” ticket information, visit citadeltheatre.org. or call 847-735-8554. Tickets are also now on sale for Citadel Theatre 2021/2022 season, which includes Neil Simon’s comedy, Brighton Beach Memoirs; Charles M. Schulz’s You’re A Good Man Charlie Brown; John Patrick Shanley’s romantic comedy, Outside Mullingar; and Steve Martin’s comedy, Picasso At The Lapin Agile. Citadel Theatre is located at 300 S. Waukegan Road, Lake Forest.

The setting for "Villa Gatsby Let the 2020’s Roar!" PHOTOGRAPHY BY JAMES GUSTIN

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LIFESTYLE & ARTS

NORTH SHORE FOODIE

BEST HOMEMADE TOMATO SOUP

PHOTOGRAPHY BY MONICA KASS ROGERS

BY MONICA KASS ROGERS THE NORTH SHORE WEEKEND

My father has simple tastes, and with home-grown tomatoes, simple is best. The juiciness and flavor of summerripened tomatoes has us eating them out of hand, in salads, or sliced onto the classic white-bread-tomato-mayo sandwich. But Dad’s forever favorite is this soup. It’s delicious when plain; even better infused with herbs, and it’s very easy to make. Also a boon? Once the garden has given up its yield, this recipe works well with store-bought tomatoes, for year-round enjoyment. Add grilled cheese sandwiches made with fresh, crusty bread to put the meal over the top.

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INGREDIENTS

METHOD

• 1 4-quart heavy bottomed stock pot

In heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat, melt butter with chopped onion. Turn heat to low and cook until onions are soft and translucent. Add teainfuser ball stuffed with herbs to the pot. (Note: I do this to infuse the soup with flavor, without the textural distraction any little stems.) Add chopped tomatoes. Cover pot and cook stirring occasionally until tomatoes have released their juices and are very soft. Remove tea infuser ball to a bowl to drain. Blend soup with immersion blender, or countertop blender. Stir in any remaining herb juices that have collected in the bowl from the infuser. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Garnish with a sprinkling of herbs of choice. Serve hot.

• 1 stick (1/2 cup) salted butter • 2 medium yellow or white onions, peeled, cored and rough chopped • ½ cup fresh chopped herbs of your choice, stuffed into a tea-infuser ball (I love this soup with rosemary, but oregano, basil, or dill are also good) • 8 to 10 medium tomatoes, washed and chopped • Salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste • A few sprigs of herb for garnish

| SATURDAY JULY 24 | SUNDAY JULY 25 2021

THE NORTH SHORE WEEKEND


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S U N D AY B R E A K FA S T

POST PERFECT JEN PHILLIPS—WHO WORKED AS A SUMMER CAMP COUNSELOR AT KESHET IN 1994—WAS THE IDEAL FIT TO BE THE NORTHBROOK-BASED NONPROFIT’S NEW CEO/PRESIDENT. BY BILL MCLEAN ILLUSTRATION BY BARRY BLITT

A teenager with disabilities gets invited to hit up the mall with her new friends for the first time. The teen and her mother arrive at the mall. The new friends then greet the teen and, with smiles, deliver an order to the mother: “You need to go away now.” The mother, smiling back, follows the order. The teen has the time of her life. It’s among Jen Phillips’s favorite stories involving a Keshet camper/student. Phillips is CEO/president of Northbrook-based Keshet, a one-of-a-kind organization that brings classroom experiences, camps, sports, social and vocational activities, and residential opportunities to 600 people with disabilities and special needs each year. The international nonprofit’s mission is to provide support, purpose, and joy to people with all abilities. Here’s another story. A new friend of a boy with special needs calls the boy one day. The boy’s mother answers the phone and reminds the new friend that her son hasn’t been able to speak since birth. “Put him on anyway,” the caller says. “I want to tell him something that he’ll be excited to hear.” Phillips’s career at Keshet began in the summer of 1994, when the Glenview native and Glenbrook South High School graduate was a senior-to-be at the University of Kansas. A friend had urged Phillips to consider serving as a one-on-one Keshet summer camp counselor. She signed up for the position, despite not having any experience with children who have disabilities. Phillips met with her assigned camper’s parents a few days before meeting her camper, also named Jennifer. “My first day with Jennifer changed my life,” Phillips recalls. “I knew, right then, that I wanted to become a special education teacher. Jennifer, who called me ‘Jen,’ was full of energy and made everyone around her laugh. I saw her needs and loved the challenges of helping her feel a part of the entire group of campers. Keshet is all about inclusion, love, and family. “I advocated for Jennifer from the beginning of the camp until the end. It all felt so right.” Jen Phillips, 48, isn’t just the right person to lead Keshet, which was founded in 1982 by Chicago-area parents who sat around a kitchen table and sought the establishment of a welcoming place where their children with various disabilities would feel warmth—the sense of belonging—from the get-go.

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Jen Phillips is the ideal person to lead Keshet. Pick a Keshet leadership position, any position. Phillips likely held it. Assistant Director of Camps. Director of Overnight Camps. Inclusion Coordinator of Camp Try Chi. Director of Recreation. Special Education Teacher. Chief Program Officer of Keshet’s service areas—education, recreation, adult program, residential, and the Pritzker Pucker Inspire Center. And now CEO/President since August 2020.

I am so proud of the organization that we’ve become. My vision at Keshet is to continue to say ‘yes,’ to figure out ways to make things work, and to serve our families forever.

Jen Phillips

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Enrollment in Keshet’s camp and recreation programs grew 340 percent from 2016-2020 under Phillips’s direction and boundless passion. Keshet— Hebrew for “rainbow”—oversees more than 75 programs in the Chicago area and Wisconsin. “Our focus has never been on numbers,” says Phillips, a Highland Park resident who shares sons and Keshet volunteers Jacob, 21, and Ben, 19, with husband Scott, whom she met in college. “We’re focused on doing programs right and holding them in small, intimate settings. Our programs are top-notch. Our camp program is the pinnacle of inclusiveness and nationally recognized. Families have told me, ‘Keshet is the golden ticket.’ “It’s a beautiful thing, watching people with all abilities learning and playing together at our camps,” she adds. “Each camp is a stage for creating lifelong memories and friendships.” A devastating thing, for adults with disabilities? The pandemic’s impact on jobs in the retail and hospitality industries. Many of Keshet’s adult participants had worked in the industries before the world turned upside down in early 2020 and bounced erratically in the en-

suing months. More than 55 percent of employed adults with developmental disabilities lost their jobs as a result of COVID-19, per the Developmental Disabilities Network. Unemployment among Keshet’s adult members soared to 94 percent. But the cessation of steady income, for many, wasn’t as detrimental as the interruption of opportunities to interact with their colleagues and hone their work skills. So Keshet, behind its job training division, acted by launching a “Coins for Keshet” program. The suddenly jobless sorted coins, counted coins, rolled coins, added coins, and deposited coins at banks. Suddenly busy, again. Suddenly social, again. Self-esteems rocketed. The unique program captures the spirit of Keshet’s “Forever Growing” tag line. Stagnancy is a condition non grata at Keshet. Keshet’s kids, teens, and adults are dynamic, lifelong learners who adapt, change, and continually grow to live their best lives. “I am so proud of the organization that we’ve become,” says Phillips, who taught special education for 18 years, the first seven in Deerfield public schools, the last 11 as a Keshet staffer. “My vision at Keshet is to continue to say ‘yes,’ to figure out ways to make things work, and to serve our families forever. “I hope we’ll reach a point where saying the word ‘inclusion’ won’t be necessary.” Phillips also envisions a 16-year-old one-onone summer camp counselor at Keshet completing high school, excelling in college, landing a job, building a sterling career, and hiring, without hesitation, an adult with a disability. Phillips returns to her story about the teen’s joyful day at the mall with her new friends. The teen’s mother calls Phillips later that day to discuss the moment she allowed her daughter’s peers to make her daughter feel like … just another teen. A glorious moment. The girls would skip from store to store, eat and sip at the food court, laugh themselves hoarse. The teen’s mother has a difficult time talking to Phillips on the phone. Shedding happy teardrops often ruins attempts to chat. “She didn’t have to say a word,” Phillips says. “Think about what that experience, for one afternoon, did for her daughter’s confidence,” Phillips says. “A couple of years later, on the girl’s 16th birthday, she asked her mother, ‘Do you think my friends will remember it’s my birthday today?’ ” They remembered. The girl’s phone rang and rang and rang. The girl’s phone also pinged and pinged and pinged. One text message was sent from England. The girl’s Keshet summer camp counselor remembered, too. Visit keshet.org for more information. THE NORTH SHORE WEEKEND


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THE NORTH SHORE WEEKEND

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Daily North Shore, July 24, 2021  

The North Shore Weekend East is published every week and features the news and personalities of Wilmette, Kenilworth, Winnetka, Northfield,...

Daily North Shore, July 24, 2021  

The North Shore Weekend East is published every week and features the news and personalities of Wilmette, Kenilworth, Winnetka, Northfield,...

Profile for jwcmedia

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