I've always felt that my brother is a bit of a genius.
Straight A's in his later college years (after he decided to get serious), degree in aeronautical engineering (he had a super-small role in the design of the DC-10), Jeopardy whiz, horse-racing handicapper (he's got a system) and ametuer golf course architect (he placed second in one of those golf magazine national contests.)
He has my dad's ability to design things, build things and fix things. (If you drive through Geneva, you'll see a number of homes my dad built with his own hands.) He has my mom's keen intelligence and taste.
But his real genius, in my humble opinion, is cooking.
I've waxed poetic in a few of our "You Rate the Restaurant" stories about the artistry of great chefs. It's among the mysteries of genius. How did Steinbeck learn how to put sentences together like that? How did all those mathematical equations allow Einstein to connect E with MC squared? (And why should the speed of light have anything to do with it?) What flash of brilliance told Picasso that these particular brush strokes and bizarre images might resonate for human beings around the world and, conceivably, for as long as civilization endures?
And that's why, when I volunteered for "60 Men Who Cook" this year, I brought in a ringer. Geneva High School class of 1965, resident of South Elgin, the guy who swims in the deeper end of the Nagel gene pool—my brother, Jon. To his great credit, when asked to cook for 250 people, he said, "yes."
For Friday's shindig, Jon is creating the "Patch Perfect Grilled Chicken Caesar Salad." You can blame me for the hokey name and this lame marketing effort. If there's any credit to be had, it will belong to Jon.
No, my brother is not the culinary equivalent of Shakespeare or DaVinci or Monet, but he's got something going—some synapse that connects intellect and instinct and allows him to create something that wasn't there before. Generally, it's something really tasty and unique.
On Friday, you will have a chance to taste my brother's latest creation, the "Patch Perfect Grilled Chicken Caesar Salad," for yourself. I have not yet tasted it. I have no reason to think that it is anything other than a run-of-the-mill Caesar ("I come to bury Caesar, not to praise him.") and that we're doing this just to get it done for charity.
But, I know my brother. I suspect this Caesar salad will be different, possibly special. If it is not, most likely I somehow mucked it up.
To vote, go here. (Have your PayPal account number handy.)
The "60 Men Who Cook" event will take place at 6 p.m. Friday, May 11, 2012, at the Kane County Fairgrounds. Attendees will sample hors d’oeuvres, main dishes, side dishes and desserts made by men they know in the community and then vote for their favorite. For ticket information, please call 630-232-6060.