Posted by Keith Reed

Bill Leske chaired the meeting. There were about 16 members present and 3 on Zoom. Guests were two representatives from the North Shore Art League, Denise Siegel, Past President, North Shore Art League Board and Sophie Candido, Communications Manager, who outlined the history and many activities of the Art League for the summer including Art Camps, Art Classes, Art Shows such as the current “Inspired by…”, the popular Abstraction Show, the Fine Arts Fair in Hubbard Woods Park in June and the Annual Members Art Show this coming October. They passed out information about how contributors can participate in the League’s 2022-23 Sponsorship Program.

SPEAKER BRUNO ABATE:  the owner and chef of Tocco restaurant in Winnetka and founder of Recipe for Change. He is originally from Italy and mentioned that he visited Chicago 22 years ago and didn’t like it for several reasons. He tried the restaurant business but had a number of misfortunes such as the deaths of his brother and wife and his involvement in some bad financial investments. He finally leased a building for his restaurant in downtown Chicago and made friends with a woman whose father had killed his wife and was imprisoned in Italy but who worked for wages in prison and his daughter forgave him for his crime. Bruno said at that time he realized the importance of forgiving people who commit horrible deeds and end up in prison. He then saw a television program about kids in prisons; he then started to work with prison kids in St. Charles, Ill. who were 14 and under to give them the pleasure of doing something productive—in Bruno’s situation he taught them how to cook as part of his “kids in prison program”. Bruno started to get the attention of the media and was features on several television programs. He was also credited with writing a 10 page book on this subject, although he claims he received some divine guidance in that project. Unfortunately, the prison in St. Charles, Ill where he had his kids program was suddenly closed by the state without notice to him.

Bruno was then able to work through contacts he had made with Anne Burke, member of the State’s Supreme Court, and the brother of our County Sheriff, Tom Dart, to set up a similar program for adult prisoners in Division Eleven of the Cook County jail system. He continues to spend time each week outside his busy schedule with his Tocco restaurants teaching about 3000 inmates to cook and to make other living improvements at the Cook County jail.

His “Recipe For Change” program in prisons has brought him an award from the MacArthur Foundation. He not only teaches cooking but his program also has provided music appreciation and painting classes and is working on building an operation of food trucks for under-served areas of our communities.

ANNOUNCEMENTS: Members were reminded of our Installation Dinner for our new officers this coming Thursday, June 16. Reservations should be made through Patti no later than this coming Sunday, June 12. Fred mentioned that a good friend of his and a former Senator from Illinois, John Porter, recently passed away and that he was a fine representative of the State-- Fred said that he liked his conservative approach to financial matters and his liberal approach to social issues.

HAPPY BUCKS: Bill Leske gave in honor of Patti, our new Club President. Tony gave because he appreciated the day as being a “very good day”. Several people thanked our guest, Ron Bernardi from the Northbrook Rotary Club for giving our Club the opportunity to sell popcorn at the June 18th Winnetka Music Festival, part of the proceeds being given to our Foundation.

DIG N GRIN: Bob Baker reported on a recent recipient of the MacArthur Darwin award which goes to people who sacrifice their own life to save others. Such award was given recently to Mike Sexton who, with a friend, tried to find a lost treasure of about 2 million dollars worth of gold coins in the mountains of Utah. They got lost twice and the second time Mike perished although his friend survived, but no treasure was found.