New Jersey Mother and Daughter Create Cookbook for Hurricane Sandy Relief

New Jersey Mother and Daughter Create Cookbook for Hurricane Sandy Relief

Watching their neighborhood get swept up in the Jersey Shore's second worst storm in history was disheartening for Point Pleasant resident, Cheryl Larkin and her daughter Kate Kurelja. In an effort to aid Hurricane Sandy victims, they decided to create a cookbook, titled Savoring the Shore in celebration of the Jersey Shore. Featuring over one hundred and fifty recipes from notable New Jersey chefs and at-home cooks, the cookbook also consists of stories and photos in remembrance of what the shore once was. After months of collecting and tasting recipes, Savoring the Shore has hit the shelves one year after Hurricane Sandy.

"We saw the devastation happen to our neighbors up and down the shoreline, so we wanted to do something to help," said Kurelja. They began planning the cookbook last January heavily utilizing social media and word of mouth to publicize. A majority of their time was spent collecting recipes as well as perfecting the book's layout and design. "We've gotten a really positive response with the way it looks," said Kurelja. "People really like the reason for it."

When the concept of the cookbook surfaced, Larkin and Kurelja were surprised at the overwhelming amount of people who wanted to be a part of it. "The chef community was so cool and just wanted to help," said Kurelja. "They care so much about the community, most of them jumped at the chance to help." While their efforts are to assist all those affected by the ravaged storm, much of their focus has been on replacing school art supplies and other things that have not been treated as a priority. "There are a lot of places that weren't getting the media attention because they weren't considered essential, but they really are," said Kurelja. "We're really trying to focus on filling the gaps."

In between working full-time jobs, Larkin and Kurelja had been striving to get the book completed by the anniversary of Hurricane Sandy. "We certainly have been supportive with other relief efforts," said Kurelja, "but the majority of our focus has been on Savoring the Shore." When asked if a second edition of the cookbook is in the works, Kurelja was not opposed to the idea. "We have thought about it," said Kurelja. "We would love to be able to help other communities."

Outside of New Jersey, news of the cookbook has also spread to parts of Philadelphia. "As it spreads, other chefs want to engage stores that they go to," said Kurelja. Other areas dealing with similar devastations have been reaching out to Larkin and Kurelja for their help as well, including Colorado who recently suffered major flooding along Colorado's Front Range.

The organization of the cookbook including compiling recipes and reaching out to retailers was done by Larkin and Kurelja with the support of their friends and family. "We have very patient friends and family who has been our guinea pigs helping us taste all the recipes that were sent to us," said Kurelja. "There are some recipes that have become favorites of ours that we have made several times together."

Although the two enjoyed sampling the recipes, it was not their favorite part about creating the book. "My mom and I both really loved reading everyone's stories about what they love about the Jersey Shore," said Kurelja. "Some people did not want their stories published but they shared them with us and we really enjoyed them."
Many well-known chef's recipes are featured in the cookbook such as: top chef judge and New Jersey native Tom Colicchio; top chef master David Burke; five chefs from Hell's Kitchen Season 11 and Season 10, Barret Beyer, Jessica Lewis, Amanda Giblin, Jacqueline Baldassari, and Justin Antiorio; Louisa Shafia, author of the cookbook, The New Persian Kitchen.