dsmWeekly: September 7, 2021
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September 7, 2021  |  VIEW AS WEBPAGE
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Eileen Gannon is launching her recipe website, Sunday Night Foods, with three gourmet premium chocolate dessert sauces, which she's been working on for three years.


Writer: Wini Moranville

Eileen Gannon recalls walking into the judging rooms at the Iowa State Fair and seeing other contestants practically roll their eyes.

“I could tell they were thinking, 'Oh [darn]. She’s here,’ ” Gannon says.

By her estimation, she has won more than 600 food contests since she began competing in 1988. These include local smackdowns (including many ribbons—mostly blue—at the Iowa State Fair), as well as prestigious national contests (she snagged first place in Seattle’s Best Coffee’s “Red Cup Showdown” for her pumpkin pie spice and caramelized bacon coffee). Her orange Bundt cake has never lost a fight.

That was all as an amateur baker working late into the night—her day jobs included high-level positions at Morgan Stanley and Workiva (a publicly traded tech firm).

Now Gannon has gone pro: September will see the launch of her Sunday Night Foods company as she unveils three gourmet premium chocolate dessert sauces, delicacies she’s been perfecting for three years.

“The trouble wasn’t coming up with a great sauce but figuring out how to scale it for 250 gallons,” she explains. For that, she got help from a Michelin-starred chef while partnering with a food co-packer in Pennsylvania.

The silky-glossy sauce is elegant and astoundingly good (I’ve tasted it), but what also differentiates it from other high-end chocolate sauces is its tag line: 1 sauce, 1000 ideas. The sauce can serve not only as a voluptuous finish to a great dessert, it can also serve as a starting point for many dessert recipes.

“Add powdered sugar, and it becomes a frosting,” Gannon says. “With milk and cornstarch, it becomes a pudding; with eggs and a pastry, it’s a tart.”

Indeed, think of it as a luxury convenience product. Gannon will soon give dozens of recipes on her website, from her famed chocolate stout cakelets and chocolate-filled oatmeal bars to brownies, tarts, fudge-filled cookies and more. Many will be never-before-released recipes for her prizewinning creations.

Sounds like Gannon has come up with yet another winner—as well as a way for everyone else to create winning desserts, too.

The sauces will soon be available on the Sunday Night Foods website and at local specialty stores including Purveyor and Kitchen Collage.
Entertaining season is coming. And all tables, chairs, stools and servers are on sale at BY DESIGN.
The "with their eyes" cast, made up of high school students. Photo: Des Moines Community Playhouse


To mark the 20-year anniversary of 9/11, Des Moines Community Playhouse will present "with their eyes: September 11: The View from a High School at Ground Zero," a play written by students who witnessed the tragedy. High school students make up the cast.

The show starts on the morning of Sept. 11, and the Stuyvesant High School semester is just beginning blocks from the World Trade Center. Within a few hours, students "would share an experience that would transform their lives—and the lives of all Americans," organizers say. There are two showtimes, one at 8:46 a.m.—the exact time the first plane hit the north tower 20 years ago—and another at 2 p.m. Saturday. Admission is free on a first-come, first-served basis. There will be a video available online after both shows.

Cabaret (Sept. 10-26)
Des Moines Community Playhouse will also kick off its two-week run of "Cabaret" on Friday. Set in Berlin in the years leading up to World War II, the musical focuses on the fictional Kit Kat Klub, where Cliff, a repressed American writer looking for his next novel, finds Sally Bowles, a sparkling and unpredictable cabaret performer. But the reality of war quickly starts to close in.

Tickets range from $29 to $53. The first showtime is at 7:30 p.m. Friday.
The next Winefest Des Moines event will be at Cowles Commons, featuring wine tastings and pork cuisine.
Photo: Catch Des Moines


Winefest Des Moines has two events in September. Capacity will be limited for both.

Pork + Pinot (6 p.m., Sept. 24 at Cowles Commons)
Local professional pork competitors will serve swine-centric cuisine while attendees sip on paired wines. Tickets are $70 (plus fees) and include food samples, wine pairings and dessert. There also will be live music.

The Unexpected Cellar (6 p.m., Sept. 25 at a downtown location to be announced)
It takes a password to enter this not-so-secret speakeasy event. But once you enter, you'll get a glass of sparkling wine and a tasting with high-end, yet approachable, pours. You also can enjoy heavy hors d'oeuvres and live music. Attendees will have the option to purchase bottles and take them home. The event location will be revealed a week before. Tickets are $110 plus fees.
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Pulitzer Prize-winner Art Cullen is the star of the upcoming "Storm Lake" documentary, featuring Cullen and his family covering the local community through the Storm Lake Times newspaper. Photo: Independent Television Service


The Varsity Cinema will open for two nights as a pop-up, outdoor venue on Sept. 17 and 18.

The Des Moines Film Society will present an advance screening of "Storm Lake," a documentary covering Pulitzer Prize-winner Art Cullen and his family at the Storm Lake Times newspaper, on Sept. 17. The film's directors and its star Cullen will be available afterward for a live Q&A. The Sept. 18 showing will feature "Moonrise Kingdom," a 2012 coming-of-age comedy-drama. There will be a pre-show DJ set from the Dusk Bros.

Movies will be presented on the grassy lot at 25th Street and Carpenter Avenue, just steps from the Varsity Cinema, which remains closed for renovation. Tickets ($5-$10) are available here. Attendees should bring their own blanket or lawn chair. Popcorn, soft drinks and other snacks will be available for sale.
From left: Tim Hickman, Eugenia Kutsch-Stanton, Randy Mayer, John Schmacker, Elle Wyant, Dr. Kyle Christiason (ally).


This feature is a part of our September/October issue, which was released last week. You can read this story and the issue's other stories on our website.

Writer: Candace Ord Manroe

Now in their third year, dsm magazine’s LGBTQ Legacy Leader awards recognize the outstanding professional, personal and civic achievements of LGBTQ Iowans. Their contributions and advocacy work have made our state a better place for us all; indeed, even amid setbacks and discrimination, they have strived to make “Iowa nice” a reality and not a mere slogan. As in previous years, we’re also recognizing an ally of the LGBTQ community who has been a passionate and effective advocate for equality.

The event to celebrate them will be virtual again this year; please join us on Oct. 15, from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., to meet this year’s inspiring group of dynamic leaders. Register here.
Oktoberfest, the annual German tradition, will serve plenty of beer on Sept. 24 and 25. Photo: Des Moines Oktoberfest


Beer, the Golden Keg, lederhosen. Must be Oktoberfest! The annual event will be back Sept. 24 and 25, from 3 p.m. to 1 a.m., outside Hessen Haus on Fourth Street south of of Court Avenue. The festival will kick off with the Tapping of the Golden Keg ceremony—and free beer until it lasts—at 3 p.m. on Sept. 24.

Attendees can expect live music, polka dancing lessons, authentic food, tented beer gardens, contests, games and more. Headlining the first night of music will be Pianopalooza, featuring Tony Bohnenkamp and Jerry Lorenson on two pianos, at 10 p.m. The Polka Police will take over the second night at 10 p.m. There will be a wide array of German beers on tap at the Craft Beer Village. Attendees dressed in German attire will be eligible to win free beer tickets throughout the festival and participate in the bier maiden and stein-holding competitions.

Tickets are $12.50 plus fees if bought in advance online; $15 at the gate. Each ticket includes one free drink ticket and a commemorative pint glass.
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