Elmhurst's Dan Peloza makes Linguine Misto
Dedication pays off for Elmhurst couple
Dan Peloza and D'Arcy Rea call themselves "weird foodies." Among their friends they are just considered "nuts" - in the nicest way, of course.
As for me, let's just say that in more than 12 years of writing the Cook of the Week I've never encountered more dedicated cooks.
Dan came to my attention recently when he won a pasta contest at Carlucci's in Downers Grove for his Linguine Misto; the dish will be featured on the restaurant's menu for a month, and here today.
But believe me, that's far from the most interesting pursuit of this adventurous Elmhurst couple.
Always on the lookout for the next exciting food event, Dan and D'Arcy recently attended the 83rd annual Coon Feed at the Delafield (Wis.) American Legion Post where. for the third year, they feasted on roasted raccoon, mashed potatoes, sauerkraut and stuffing.
"It tastes a lot like pot roast," says Dan, a future's trader on the Chicago Board of Trade.
Members of the Slow Food Movement, last year they attended the Slow Food International convention in Italy. Through the local chapter they give tours of Chicago's Little India on Devon and attend events like food history lectures on apple pancakes.
When it comes to sourcing ingredients, "we can drive ourselves nuts," says D'Arcy, a dietitian at Hines Veterans Hospital in Hines. "We have to up the game."
It started with making food healthier, which led to local ingredients, organics and purchasing produce directly from a local farmer through membership in a CSA (Consumer Supported Agriculture).
Healthier eating led to environmentally responsible cooking with sustainable seafood and fair trade items.
Now they grow some of their own produce and with the surplus make and freeze pesto, Bloody Mary mix and marinara sauce.
"This year we're going to start canning," says Dan.
They avoid the "dirty dozen" worst foods for pesticides, celebrate the perfect saute pan and buy what they can't grow from farmers' markets.
"We get poultry from a woman near Kankakee or the farmers' markets," she says. They buy grass-fed meat from a guy in Wisconsin and her father, a hunter, provides venison.
Cooking rewards each of them differently.
"For my wife, it's the science; when she gets a pan that sweats an onion like it's supposed to, she's ecstatic," he says. "For me it's a journey; I like to immerse myself in whatever culture we're eating."
For a recent Spanish night Dan researched Iberico ham ($170 pound), manchego cheese and the perfect wine for a dinner with patatas bravas, white bean dip, Spanish olives and arugula bruschetta.
On Sundays they cook together most of the day, preparing three to four dishes over five hours so they have dinners and sack lunches for the week.
"I feel like I'm proving a point," says D'Arcy. "I really am against everything coming out of a box."