DSM Book Festival, Culinary Duo, Home Design Awards
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March 2, 2021  |  VIEW AS WEBPAGE
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Form follows function in a modern remodel of a Des Moines home in Southwestern Hills. Clever ideas include a reduced-depth concrete counter, a tree-like entryway bench, and high-functioning custom cabinets to help a not-so-big home live large.
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The DSM Book Festival features sessions about whiskey, wine, beer and cocktails, with some tie-ins to literary works. Photo: The Foundry


Writer: Wini Moranville

With workshops on calligraphy, embroidery, flower-arranging, terrarium-making and more, this year’s DSM Book Festival goes beyond focusing on insights found in novels and poetry to include other great things you can learn from books. There’s even a spate of events that brings books and booze together for spirited learning.

Held both in-person and online, sessions in the Literature and Libations series offer the opportunity to learn more about whiskey, wine, beer or craft cocktails. Two of the sessions, Pride & Prosecco and Tale of Two Breweries, have evident tie-ins to literary works. Two others, including Introduction to Whiskey and a summer cocktail seminar, aren’t necessarily tied to novels, but tap into the ethos of the book festival nonetheless.

“The goal is offering an opportunity for continued learning on something that feels very social,” says Colleen Murphy, downtown events director of the Greater Des Moines Partnership, adding that the whiskey and cocktail sessions will not only provide a “101” on the topics, but offer book recommendations for continued learning, too.

“Books are the perfect vehicle to increase your knowledge on any subject,” she says.

Area experts—including staff from Hello, Marjorie (a downtown cocktail bar) and Foundry Distilling Company—will lead the sessions. And just so you know: Online participants need not forgo the drink tastings. Sampling kits will be available to purchase in advance from local partners.

With events held on Saturdays from March 27 through April 17, the DSM Book Festival is produced by the Greater Des Moines Partnership. Find more information here.
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Laura Rodriguez, mother of Proof's executive chef Diego Rodriguez, created her own food concept, Mamá Laura's Meals, which creates authentic Mexican fare, like birria and tortillas.


Writer: Karla Walsh

Although Diego Rodriguez and his mother, Laura, didn’t cook together when he was growing up, they've been able to make up for lost time recently—and recently in the Proof restaurant kitchen where Diego is now the executive chef.

Diego, 23, was born in Mexico, and Laura moved to the United States 22 years ago to support her family. Diego joined her in 2007, and in the meantime, honed his own culinary skills with his grandma, using that background in his Des Moines culinary career. (Learn about his story in this feature from our March/April 2020 issue.)

“I have always been proud of Diego," Laura says. "He was working under chef Sean [Wilson, former executive chef of Proof], and one day he tells me he is the chef in charge, and I couldn’t believe it. From that point on, I have been impressed by every single menu and every dish he creates.”

Laura is a talented cook herself, but put that passion on the back burner to pursue other careers. As a restaurant manager, her hours were cut in March 2020 because of the pandemic, so she decided to launch Mamá Laura's Meals out of her certified home kitchen. Since then, she’s been growing a loyal following with frequent pop-ups, where her tortas, birria and tamales are top sellers.

It’s clearly catching on. When Diego invited Mamá Laura to join him for one of Proof’s biweekly pandemic takeout events in early February, the dynamic duo sold out both days. I was lucky enough to order early and sample nearly everything on the menu. I can't recommend the warmly spiced, yet not-too-hot braised beef birria enough. And any time the sweet and tangy requesón cheesecake is on the menu, you must order a slice or two.

“It was like working with myself, but on steroids,” Diego says with a laugh, reflecting on the weekend. “I learned so much from my mother; she always has so much to teach me!”

Diego and Laura plan to team up again for a Proof pop-up with even more desserts, and in the meantime, she’ll be hosting her own to-go feasts as her schedule allows. These are often every weekend, but you can keep up with the latest, find menu details, and learn how to place an order on Instagram.
Designed by Modern Studio, this downtown space is a finalist in the small kitchen category.
Photo: Ben Easter Photography


We're a week away from our first-ever dsm Home Design Awards, where we'll honor local home builders, renovators, interior designers, landscapers and more in a variety of categories. We'll also showcase the winners of our Readers' Choice contest and provide an inside look at the March/April and Home issues.

Another reason to attend: You can win one of the fantastic prizes: a $300 cookware set from Warners' Stellian Appliance; a $100 DoorDash gift card from Community State Bank; or a $50 gift card from Spectrum Lighting.

The virtual event, presented by Community State Bank, starts at 4 p.m. on March 9. You can register for free here.

Find all finalists on our dsm Home Design Awards website. We'll see you there!
    Chris Norton was paralyzed in 2010 after a football injury, but he has managed to move again after intense physical therapy. He uses his story to inspire others. Photo: 7 Yards by Fotolanthropy Films.


    A former college football player at Luther College in Decorah, Chris Norton was paralyzed by a tackle in 2010, at 18 years old. More than a decade later, Norton, who lives in Bondurant and is a father of five, can move again and recently released a documentary, "7 Yards: The Chris Norton Story," chronicling the journey from his injury to his 7-yard wedding walk. It's available on Apple TV, Prime Video and other platforms.

    Norton was given just a 3% chance to move again after his injury. But after years of intense physical therapy and training, Norton’s story went viral in 2015 when he successfully walked across Luther College's graduation stage with the help of his fiancée, Emily. Soon after, the couple set another goal: Walk seven yards side-by-side down their wedding aisle, which they did in 2018.

    “We don’t get to control what happens to us, but we can choose how we respond,” Norton said in a statement. “No one ever volunteers to struggle, but it can be one of our greatest teachers. My story is hard, but it is full of hope, and I think that is relevant to everyone right now.”

    For more information, visit the film's website, Instagram and Facebook.


      When Eleanor Bernsten was just 11, she started scrawling song lyrics on paper. Inspired by pop stars Taylor Swift and Harry Styles, she wanted to become a musician herself. Now 17, Bernsten, who performs as EleanorGrace, is living out that dream, balancing school at Des Moines' Virtual Campus program and a budding career in the industry.

      Bernsten was signed at 14. Through a mutual family friend, she connected with Station One Records in Des Moines. During their first meeting at Mars Cafe, Bernsten brought her guitar along, thinking they would ask her to perform. Today, she laughs about her naivety then, but it reminds her just far she's come in three years.

      "I told them I had no idea what I was doing. I just write songs," Bernsten said on the latest dsm CultureCast podcast.. "I wanted to be in the music industry, and they were kind enough to take me under their wing."

      In 2020, her determination was rewarded. Bernsten's "Lighthouse," which she wrote when she was 14, reached a half-million streams on Spotify. With lyrics inspired by a family lake house in Michigan, the song was placed on a Spotify editorial playlist that helped it find global reach.

      "I don't think I really got [that it was blowing up] at first," Bernsten said. "It hit 2,000 streams, and I was like, 'Oh, my ... 2,000.' Then it hit 10,000. And when it hit 20,000, and it just didn't show signs of slowing down ... [I realized] this is doing really well and I might have a chance at being a musician."  

      Listen to the full podcast episode here. Follow Bernsten's career on her website or social media. Her music can be found on Spotify and other audio platforms.

        A letter from Chairman Connie Wimer

        Generally I shy away from shining the spotlight inward on our organization, preferring instead to shine the light on those in our community and their achievements. But today I have exciting news about our company that I want to share.

        The March issue of Editor & Publisher, the respected monthly trade news magazine covering the publishing industry, recognized President and Group Publisher Suzanna de Baca, Business Record Publisher and Executive Editor Chris Conetzkey and the BPC team in a special section called “10 News Publishers That Do It Right.” BPC was cited for launching "new initiatives that provided value to the community" in 2020.  

        As for most companies in Central Iowa, the past 12 months have been anything but business as usual. With the global pandemic, social unrest and the derecho, it was a year of adaptation and innovation. In trying to best figure out how we could support our communities, we listened, and then acted on what we heard.

        Editor & Publisher wrote, "Our 10 news publishers (and honorable mentions) had to learn how to navigate a brand-new world," and specifically mentioned the Business Record's Buy One Give One program, which enabled local businesses to donate advertising to nonprofits; Coping with Covid virtual event series and Executive Vision Series on racial equity; dsm's Lifting the Veil event series focused on mental health; and BPC's companywide Iowa Stops Hunger initiative designed to bring awareness and action to combatting food insecurity among our business and cultural communities.

        This year's Editor & Publisher's list includes the Minneapolis Star Tribune, Newsday and Variety. Past honored publications include the Financial Times of London, the Chicago Tribune, the Philadelphia Inquirer and the Denver Post.

        Talk about illustrious company! I simply could not be any more proud of Suzanna, Chris and our BPC team.

        In 2021, we will keep moving forward. Most importantly, we will continue to listen and serve the needs of the communities we reach with our publications, including the Business Record, dsm  and ia magazines, as well as our custom publishing division.

        I want to thank you for your continued support of our organization. Your readership, event attendance and patronage make our work possible.
          Business Publications Corporation Inc.

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