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Top University chefs engage with Notre Dame community through ‘Fighting Irish Foodies’ series

| Friday, March 19, 2021

This semester, Notre Dame chefs are sharing their talents in the kitchen through a series of livestream cooking shows called “Fighting Irish Foodies.”

Each episode features one chef, who gives a step-by-step demonstration of their recipe. Episodes are released monthly. 

Megan Fahrney | The Observer
“Fighting Irish Foodies host Lou Nanni (left) cooks Guinness stew with chef Josh Maron during the show’s second episode on March 11.

The first episode highlighted executive pastry chef Sinai Vespie, who taught viewers how to make shortbread cookies. The second show featured Josh Maron, executive chef at Legend’s of Notre Dame, and his St. Patrick’s Day Beef and Guinness stew. 

Vice president for university relations Lou Nanni said his team in the department of development created “Fighting Irish Foodies” as a way to virtually engage Notre Dame alumni, parents, friends and donors. 

“It took off in ways that I think even exceeded our expectations,” Nanni said. 

Nanni served as host for the second episode, which received over 10,000 total views. The two episodes averaged 1,457 live viewers. 

Maron said he loves the nostalgia associated with comfort food. During the show, he spoke of his great grandmother’s homemade beef and noodles dish.

“It’s kind of similar to music, you know, how you can hear a song that you haven’t heard in a long time and [it] almost takes you back in time to a forgotten memory,” Maron said. 

Throughout the show, viewers have an opportunity to ask questions about the recipe. For instance, Vespie was asked about the difference between cookies baked on metal and parchment-lined pans.  

In addition to technical questions, chefs speak about themselves and their cooking experience on the show. 

Vespie discussed her experience winning Food Network’s “Halloween Baking Competition.”

Nanni said he loved learning about cooking and getting to know Maron. The two discussed their favorite movies centered around food and their favorite South Bend-area restaurants. 

“It’s just fascinating to talk with people,” Nanni said. “Just asking him, ‘When did you find this love for cooking and who inspired you?’”

Ryli Vissers, chef de cuisine at the Morris Inn and McKenna Hall, is scheduled to cook on the next episode of the show in April. 

Vissers said he plans on cooking an asparagus risotto, which he chose because it uses seasonal, locally-sourced ingredients.

“I think it’s really, really important to cook with the seasons and embrace whatever you have around you instead of bringing stuff in from other states or countries,” Vissers said. “I think that the South Bend area [and] Upper Michigan right above us has some of the best produce in the country.” 

Nanni said that because of Fighting Irish Foodies’ success, there will likely be a couple more episodes this semester and maybe even more in the fall. 

The next episode is scheduled for April 8 at 2:30 p.m. E.T. Viewers can access the event at https://giving.nd.edu/foodies/

“It’s pretty amazing,” Nanni said. “The questions you hear, they come in from all over the country, … sometimes beyond the country. People are watching, and it’s quite remarkable.”

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