Award-winning Northbrook chef Sarah Stegner feeds hospital workers, helps local farmers

NORTHBROOK, Ill. (WLS) -- James Beard award-winning Chef Sarah Stegner of Prairie Grass Cafe has cooked up more than 100 meals a week for frontline and essential workers at Swedish Covenant Hospital.

"We're so grateful to the frontline workers and the doctors. Anything we can do to help them," she said.

In late April, the Northbrook chef connected with hospital pulmonologist Dr. Claude Zanetti, who suggested the donations go to the hospital's nightside workers.

"I used to do ICU medicine and those guys are really putting themselves on the line," Zanetti said.

Zanetti said the late night shift, including transport and cleaning crews, are often overlooked when it comes to meal donations

"They need our support as well, so we were really happy that we could step up and do that," Stegner said.

Lillian Chen-Byerly, a furloughed pediatric occupational therapist who is volunteering to help at the hospital while she is not working, picks and drops up the meals twice a week to an appreciative staff.

"They send pictures of them devouring the food and people even change their shift so they can be part of Sarah's donations," she said.

The meals are free thanks to more than $10,000 in community donations.

Chef Stegner, adding another component to her kindness, has used the donation money to keep her employees working and keep local farmers in business during this pandemic.

"So we're helping the farmers, it helps the restaurant, and it feeds the doctors," she said. "It's really important to get the message out there that our farmers are in trouble and they need help."

Chef Stegner said she plans to do this for as long as the donation money keeps coming in. So far they have enough for two more weeks, and hope the public will help continue her cause.

If you are interested in donating to the Prairie Grass Cafe Doctor Fund, call 847-205-4433.
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