This scholar is fully booked through 2023. This scholar will be available in 2024 for booking.
You may also book them outside of any Illinois Humanities affiliation using the contact information provided in the “Book This Road Scholar” section below.

Catherine Lambrecht initially came to our Road Scholars program as a host. She now presents her program on Family Heirloom Recipes to places in Illinois she didn’t even know existed. Audience members leave her program reminded of the power of family meals and recipes and their ability to engender a feeling of comfort, catalyze memory, and anchor us when we gather.

Catherine briefly describes herself and her programs…

Presentation 1

History of American Pies… and Illinois is well represented!

Pies are as American as pizza is American: we took a great idea, adapted it to our needs and ran with it. Our ancestors used what they had available locally and made the most from it. You might be thinking that pies are just for dessert, but for our American ancestors, they were often considered survival food. Sometimes, they ate pie for breakfast, lunch and dinner for months at a time.

Catherine Lambrecht, who achieved Grand Champion and Best of Show at the Lake County Fair for apple pie, will present the history of pies in America and our state. Illinois’ contribution to our country’s pie culture includes the following:

  • Pumpkin Pie is Illinois’ State Pie, with over 90 percent of canned pumpkin grown in Illinois
  • the pecan pie
  • Did you know Johnny Appleseed roamed our state? Apples originating in Kazakhstan are an introduced crop everywhere in the Americas.

Lambrecht will share a story from the Family Heirloom Recipe Contest at the Illinois State Fair of love, family, a special pie, and a gift of immeasurable value.

Program Topics

  • Food
  • Illinois
  • History
  • Pies

Program Logistics

This 60-minute program requires projector, screen, podium, microphone, and stool. A table and two chairs for a book display is recommended. Upon request, a demonstration on how to make a pie crust, the aspect of pie making that people fear, can be arranged. If the audience wishes to bring a favorite pie, with a recipe and story to share, that’s fine. Those are just suggestions, and this presentation can be effective without audience submissions.

Back to the 2023 – 2024 Road Scholar Roster

Presentation 2

Family Heirloom Recipes from the Illinois State Fair

Since 2009, Catherine Lambrecht has judged Family Heirloom Recipes contests on behalf of Greater Midwest Foodways in Illinois as well as Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Ohio, Minnesota, Missouri, South Dakota and Wisconsin. Contestants would enter their best scratch family heirloom recipe suitable for a family or community dinner. The recipe should have originated 50 years ago or earlier. Contestants would bring to the fair a prepared dish along with a history of who passed the recipe down to them.

This presentation offers an opportunity to follow the judging experience by providing the histories and recipes presented as submitted at the Illinois State Fair (2009-2019) with pictures of the food as presented at the fair. The foods were sometimes submitted simply in their transport container, or more elaborately on the family’s china with relevant props of family pictures, kitchen paraphernalia and their loved one’s handwritten recipe.

Catherine will highlight the wonderful stories she has collected over the years as an expert culinary judge. Some examples include:

  • How a contestant wanted a judge to settle a long-held family argument about which is better: green or white asparagus soup?
  • A right of passage as young boy’s pet pig may be his breakfast
  • Dueling pasta salads from the church and community dinner circuit
  • An Italian-American family circling a cutting board mounded with polenta and meat sauce ready to dig in
  • A family of mushroom collectors preserve their old country traditions

If Catherine inspires you to document a family favorite recipe to share with loved ones, then she has accomplished her mission.

All recipes are provided as presented to preserve their historical integrity. Some of these recipes originated when oven temperatures were difficult to regulate, or temperature was taken literally by hand: stick your hand in the oven chamber and count the seconds before your hand cannot tolerate it.

The original histories and recipes collected will be archived with the University of Michigan Library Special Collections Research Center at the Janice Bluestein Longone Culinary Archives in Ann Arbor.

Program Topics

  • Food
  • Illinois
  • History

Program Logistics

This 60-minute presentation (extra time for Q and A) is an oral narrative with a power point slide show. Presentation on a memory stick or bring a laptop with a USB port. Presenter has a zoom account, if this is virtual or a desire to simulcast. The host organization should provide a podium, microphone, stool (if possible), and a table with two chairs for book display.

A pdf handout is provided to the host organization to distribute to their audience. If the audience wishes to bring their family recipe and story to share, that’s fine. If it is a group who may want to make a potluck of family recipes, then all the better. Those are suggestions and this presentation can be effective without audience submitting. Quite often, the Q&A drifts into, “Remember when …” which are the stories that Catherine adores.

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About the Road Scholar

Catherine Lambrecht

Catherine LambrechtCatherine Lambrecht is a veteran of culinary competitions at the Lake County and Illinois State Fairs, a former University of Illinois Extension volunteer whose specialties were Master Food Preserver and Master Gardner, and a founder of Greater Midwest Foodways Alliance, Chicago Foodways Roundtable (sister organization to Culinary Historians of Chicago) and LTHforum.com, a Chicago culinary chat site.

Catherine is also program director for the Highland Park Historical Society and Illinois Mycological Association (Mushroom Club) and editor of Heirloom Recipes from the Illinois State Fair, A Bicentennial Project. For Catherine, a day spent well is when she learns something new.

Learn More and Follow Catherine

Back to the 2023 – 2024 Road Scholar Roster

Book this Road Scholar

Follow the steps below to book a presentation.

Step 1
Contact Catherine to schedule a date and time via email at GreaterMidwestFoodways@gmail.com or phone at (312) 380-1665.

Step 2
Once you and Catherine have agreed upon a date and time, complete the Road Scholars Host Organization application.

Back to the 2023 – 2024 Road Scholar Roster