April 7, 2015
Brandy Lueders is the mastermind behind the inventive home-cooked meals offered at The Grateful Chef.     

Yes--I'm Grateful!  

By Wini Moranville   


Not long ago, I was invited to dine at the home of one of the best cooks I know. All week, I was looking forward to her food--secretly hoping for one of her Indian specialties.


When we sat down to the table, my friend mentioned that she'd had a whirlwind week and, alas, hadn't cooked this meal herself. My heart sank.


Until I tasted what was on the menu: A chicken sausage gumbo from The Grateful Chef. The head-turning entrée brought a spirited mix of chicken, smoked and andouille sausage, the "holy trinity" (peppers, celery, onions), plus mushrooms, tomatoes and a bonus of cauliflower.


The Grateful Chef is Brandy Lueders, who prepares healthful and inventive home-cooked meals--often with ethnic twists--that she sells every Wednesday from the back door of the Wallace House (756 16th St.). The upcoming week's menu is published each Thursday; you place your order by the following Monday at noon. Then, you pick it up that Wednesday between 4 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. You can pay in advance via PayPal, or pay when you pick your order up via credit card, check or cash.


Last week, I finally got around to trying The Grateful Chef myself, and I might be the last food enthusiast in town to have given this gem a go. "We get between 100 and 150 customers per week," Lueders told me, adding that some customers purchase foods from her for their entire week of meals.


Choices usually include two entrees ($30 for four servings; $15 for two servings), a salad ($10 a quart) and a soup ($10 a quart). Many options are (or can be made) vegetarian or vegan.


As for my order, the Moroccan shepherd's pie was phenomenally good--a warmly spiced meat and vegetable filling with a luscious sweet potato topping. I'll be back.


Get more details on The Grateful Chef here


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Celebrate the Prairie


Learn about--and celebrate--the history, literature, landscape and people of the prairie at the third annual Iowa Humanities Festival April 10 and 11. The festival opens April 10 with a photography exhibit and a performance by storyteller Jeff Biggers and banjo player Gabrielle Kouri. The free event starts at 5 p.m. at the John and Mary Pappajohn Education Center (1200 Grand Ave.). Then at 7 p.m., opening-night activities continue with a reading by best-selling author Steve Berry at Central Campus (1800 Grand Ave.). The free reading is part of the Des Moines Public Library's AViD series.


On April 11, Iowa-based scholars, museum directors, librarians and collectors will discuss "The Elusive Prairie" at a series of panels starting at 9 a.m. at the Des Moines Art Center. At noon, the festival will move to Salisbury House & Gardens for a variety of afternoon sessions and, at 4:15 p.m., the closing reception. 


The fee to attend Saturday's events is $10. Register in advance here or in person at the reception Friday or at the Des Moines Art Center at 9 a.m. Saturday. Click here for more information. 

fyi: Mark Your Calendar   

  • Although spring has just arrived, we're already looking forward to next fall. That's because in the past few weeks, local arts organizations have released their 2015-2016 season lineups, packed with shows you won't want to miss. At the top of our list are the Des Moines Symphony's world premiere Sept. 26-27 of "Symphony on a Stick," a newly commissioned work by Peter Hamlin that celebrates the  Iowa State Fair; and the touring production of "Newsies" that will stop at the Des Moines Civic Center Jan. 12-17, 2016. And that's just for starters. Find out what the following theater, dance and music organizations have in store for the new season by clicking on these links: StageWest Theatre Company; Des Moines Community Playhouse; Tallgrass Theatre Company; Ballet Des Moines; Civic Music Association.
  • Professional chefs from some of Central Iowa's best restaurants will come together at Embassy Club West (520 Market St., West Des Moines) to create a seven-course and seven-wine gourmet dinner on April 12 for the Iowa Restaurant Association and Dine Iowa's Culinary Affair. Tickets cost $110 and can be purchased here. Make sure to get your tickets soon--the event is expected to sell out. For more information and to see the menu in advance, click here.
  • Hawthorn Hill will hold its sixth annual Art & More for Shelter event April 16 from 6 to 9 p.m. at West End Architectural Salvage (22 S.W. Ninth St.). Guests can expect food, a cash bar and a silent auction featuring art and more. There will also be live music and a short presentation from Hawthorn Hill families on how the organization has impacted their lives. Tickets cost $20 each or two tickets for $30; they can be purchased here or at the door.
The Frontier Shack just opened along the High Trestle Trail near Madrid.   
P.S. Bikers Welcome


We just heard that bicyclists on the High Trestle Trail have a new dining option near Madrid. The Hotel Pattee has partnered with Flat Tire Lounge to extend food service to a new restaurant on the trail called the Frontier Shack. We're looking forward to trying the french fries with Parmesan cheese and truffle oil. For more information and to see the menu, click here.


Belle Du Chene is senior editor of dsm magazine.

Wini Moranville, author of "The Bonne Femme Cookbook: Simple, Splendid Food That French Women Cook Every Day," is a food, wine and travel writer who covers the dining scene for dsm magazine. Follow her at All Things Food DSM - Wini Moranville and catch her food segment on Fridays at 6:40 a.m. on KCWI-23's "Great Day" morning show.
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