Handel’s Owner Participates in ‘Favorite Chef’ Competition

CANFIELD, Ohio – Lenny Fisher enjoys creating interesting flavors to put smiles on the faces of customers at his Handel’s Ice Cream stores.

But Fisher also makes a variety of foods and baked goods for family, friends and charities in the Mahoning Valley, such as cookies with edible flowers, pies, banana bread, pastas, seafood and tasty snacks.

Now Fisher is taking his love of food and merging it with his love of giving back to the Youngstown area as one of the participants in this year’s “Carla Hall Presents Favorite Chef” competition.

“I love to see the happiness and joy on the faces of those I cook and bake for,” Fisher said. “If I win, I will give the money to various charities.”

When someone thinks “celebrity chef,” Hall definitely comes to mind. Besides lending her name to this competition, she has written several cookbooks and rose to fame on television shows such as “Top Chef,” “The Chew” and “Chasing Flavor.”

Fisher met Hall by chance on a sidewalk while attending a food and wine festival in Aspen, Colo. He says he learned during that meeting that Hall loves ice cream and worked at a Baskin-Robbins when she was young.

Hall is celebrating her 60th birthday this year, and Fisher said he suggested to her that he should create a flavor of ice cream for her.

“As a fluke, I said I would enter this thing – who knows,” Fisher said, adding that organizations in the area have supported him by posting a voting link on their social media pages.

The winner of the competition gets featured on a Taste of Home magazine cover and a chance to cook with Hall.

While that part of the prize would be a thrill for Fisher, the $25,000 prize would help him make a bigger difference for local charities. Fisher said if he wins, he’ll donate all the money to organizations he regularly supports, including Akron Children’s Hospital, Sight for All United, Rich Center for Autism and the Youngstown Business Incubator.

“It’s all local. I don’t know how I’m going to split it up, but it’s all going to stay local,” Fisher said.

“Thank God, I’ve been fortunate enough that I don’t need it. I just want to keep giving back to the community,” Fisher said.

Those who want to help support Fisher’s effort can do so HERE. Voting – once per day – is free, but registration is required through a Facebook account.

There is also the opportunity to make a donation while voting. Donations go to the James Beard Foundation, a nonprofit organization that celebrates and supports those in the food culture. Through the foundation, chefs have honed their craft by cooking in Beard’s home, and more than $8 million in scholarships have been distributed to students. During Covid, the foundation helped restaurants survive, and it continues to support diverse cultures in food.

Fisher said he hopes to continue to keep pace with votes in the competition, which will help bring awareness to the Youngstown area.

The nationwide contest started with 1,500 groups. There were 61 contestants in Fisher’s group when it started. It has been narrowing weekly, and this week there will be five people remaining per group.

Fisher is currently in first place in his group, and he hopes to finish in the top five, which will allow him to advance to the next round. Voting for the current round ends at 10 p.m. Thursday.

Additional rounds will follow. The group finals will begin Thursday and end June 27; the wildcard round, which gives a second chance to those who previously placed second, will be held June 28-30; the quarterfinals will be July 1-11; semifinals will be July 12-18; and the finals will be July 19-25.

Pictured at top: Lenny Fisher, owner of Handel’s Ice Cream.

Copyright 2024 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.