A group of women from the Chestatee neighborhood in Dawson County have assembled and published a cookbook showcasing recipes from local chefs, raising $5,558 for the Backpack Buddies charity.
El Morris, a creator of the cookbook, said that the idea first came to her near the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, when she wanted to come up with a way to raise money for those in need of a little extra help.
“I went to bed one night and I said to my husband, ‘I gotta find a way to help feed these kids that need help’,” Morris said. “So I prayed about it, got up the next morning and said ‘I’m doing a cookbook.’”
Morris said that she called four of the other women in her neighborhood to help her with the project, and the group of five began meeting every Sunday afternoon to work on the project.
“Every Sunday the group would come to my house at 4:30 and I’d have a bottle of wine sitting there and somebody would bring some goodies that they’d made,” Morris said. “And we’d just sit there and talk about what this book needed to be and what it needed to be about.”
During the brainstorming process, Morris said that one of the women on the committee came up with the idea of spotlighting local chefs from local restaurants in the cookbook.
“We ended up with five chefs who each gave us one of their recipes which was really cool,” Morris said. “So we had a professional photographer come in and take pictures of them and put them in the book on the divider pages so it has the chef’s picture and the name of the restaurant on the front and then on the back is his recipe.”
Morris said that the inclusion of the local chefs’ recipes really helped to sell the cookbook. The five restaurants included entries from four in Dahlonega, as well as Dawson County’s own Blue Bicycle restaurant.
Morris and her team marketed the book to their friends and neighbors and sold 485 copies of it. The group began working on the book in June of 2020 and it was printed near the end of November.
Morris said that she and her team couldn’t have raised as much money as they did without the support from their Chestatee friends and neighbors.
“The kind and generous residents of Chestatee are who really made this beautiful book a shining success,” Morris said. “Without their support and purchase of the Chestatee cookbooks, we would not be having this conversation — the people of Chestatee are just so generous.”
After selling out of the first order of cookbooks so quickly, Morris said that she and her team have continued to get questions from community members about how to get one, and there are three local retailers interested in carrying the book.
Morris said that as soon as she gets 100 more pre-orders for the book she is planning on placing another printing order. They hope to support a different charity with each order of the books, she said.
“Since four of the chefs are from Dahlonega, I think it’s only fair that the next run goes to a charity in Dahlonega because there’s as many poor children there as there are in Dawsonville,” Morris said. “So we’re hoping we can reprint and raise more money to support more children up there.”
Money raised by the cook book’s first printing will go to support Backpack Buddies, a local charity organized by another member of the Chestatee community, Hugh Holley. According to Holley, the donation is very important to his charity, especially in the wake of a year like 2020.
“Chestatee usually does a food drive to raise food for Backpack Buddies, and this year we weren’t able to do it because of Covid,” Holley said. “So then they did this cookbook and that was a major, major donation for the program.”
Holley said that such a large donation is enough to go a long way with feeding children in the community.
“That would be like 3 months of breakfast bars or peanut butter for 100 kids, so that’s what it means to Backpack Buddies,” Holley said. “It’s probably one of the larger donations from one individual at one time that we received for Backpack Buddies.”
For more information on the Chestatee cookbook and how to get one for yourself, email Chestateecookbook@gmail.com.