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Culinary Kudos

LoPresti Scholarships honor dedicated chefs and students.

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The Cleveland foodservice community is a remarkably generous bunch of restaurateurs, distributors, and culinarians who often come together to support the industry. One of their best endeavors is the annual August LoPresti Scholarship Dinner, a little-publicized event that provides recognition, as well as cash support, for outstanding culinary/hospitality students and educators. The scholarships reward exceptional devotion to the industry while honoring the memory of August LoPresti, who died in 1994. "My dad was full of passion for this business," says son Dan LoPresti, executive VP of purchasing for A. LoPresti & Sons. "He was involved in every aspect of it, from mentoring new students to supporting all the local organizations." Those groups -- including the Greater Cleveland Restaurant Association and local chapters of the American Dietetic Association, the American Culinary Federation, and the International Food Service Executives -- came together seven years ago to establish the non-profit August LoPresti Service Corporation, which oversees the awards. This year's honorees are Tri-C students Susan Cohen and Pearl Anderson, and educators and certified executive chefs Richard Fulchiron (Tri-C) and René Rawraway (Ashland University); they received their awards September 30. A. LoPresti & Sons, founded in 1908, is one of Cleveland's oldest foodservice distribution companies, with wholesale and retail customers throughout Northeast Ohio.

Blazing success . . .

The modest chicken-and-waffles Sunday brunch started by caterer Phil "The Fire" Davis this summer at the Cleveland Heights Civic (3130 Mayfield Road) has been such a hit that Davis has expanded both the hours and the menu. Now, diners searching for soulful sustenance can feast buffet-style on ham, hash browns, and scrambled eggs, along with the usual fried chicken and fragrant waffles and syrup, from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. each Sunday. There's live entertainment, too. Cost is $14.95 for adults, with reduced prices for seniors, college students, and kids ages 5 to 9. Call 216-556-2996 for reservations.

Northern exposure . . .

Although Mexican food has become an Ohio mainstay, our neighbors to the north have so far failed to inflame our culinary imaginations. Other than the occasional recipe request for maple-syrup pie or a shared reverie about the smoked meat at Montreal's Lesters, Canadian food has been pretty much ignored on this side of the Great Lakes. But a quick trip to the Windsor area hints that change may be afoot. For one thing, poutine -- that wickedly tasty Quebecian comfort food of french fries topped with fresh cheese curd and gravy -- is making its way ever closer to Cleveland, with a not-so-bad version showing up at a KFC location less than 30 minutes outside Detroit. And Tim Horton's, a Canadian icon since its inception in Hamilton in 1964, seems to have one (and sometimes two) of its tidy coffee-and-doughnut shops on every street corner in the greater Detroit-Windsor area. But while poutine may be slow to show up on Midwestern menus, Tim Horton's, with around 1,900 Canadian locations, is making a concerted effort to conquer this region. The company merged with Wendy's in 1995 and already has 125 U.S. locations, primarily in the Detroit, Buffalo, Toledo, and Columbus areas. Although die-hard Horton's fans have grumbled that the U.S. installations lack the homey charm of the Canadian spots, it's hard to argue with the taste of Horton's tender doughnuts, tea biscuits, and fritters. Sadly, company officials say there are no immediate plans for Cleveland.

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