Jimmy Bannos – No Introduction Needed!

Jimmy Bannos – of Heaven on Seven renown – has been a regular at the Meals on Wheels Chicago’s Celebrity Chef Ball from almost the beginning.

“It has to be at least 28 years now.  Christian De Vos recruited me and I’ve been a regular ever since.  He didn’t have to ask twice. I knew then the importance Meals on Wheels Chicago.  My late grandparents used to receive home-delivered meals from them. It kept them in their home for years.

The Celebrity Chef Ball is a highlight of the year for chefs.  We get to meet and reconnect with other chefs from Chicago and abroad.  I have seen chefs when they were at the beginning of their careers who have now gone on to world fame.  We teach the chefs who are just getting started what it means to be part of a community, and how it is our responsibility to help those less fortunate than us.

There have been so many magical moments at Celebrity Chef Ball over the years , but my favorite has to be when the late Paul Bocuse was the honorary chef in 1995. It was a thrill to meet him.   If you haven’t gone to a Celebrity Chef Ball, put November 9 on your calendar. It’s great to test the fare of three great restaurants in one sitting, and then go to the party where 40 more brilliant chefs are waiting.”

Tickets go on sale later this month for Meals on Wheels 30th Anniversary Celebrity Chef Ball, November 9th.  Save the Date!  In the meantime, enjoy one of Jimmy’s recipes for Orzolaya.


12 ounces boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into ½-inch cubes
1 teaspoon Angel Dust Cajun Seasoning (recipe below)
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1½ teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
6 ounces andouille sausage, cut into ¼-inch slices
2 tablespoons finely diced tasso ham
2 tablespoons finely shredded pickled pork or Shredded Smoked Pork Shoulder Butt (recipe below)
¾ cup seeded, finely diced green bell pepper
½ cup finely diced celery ½ cup thinly sliced green onion, white and green parts
2 tablespoons finely diced yellow onion
2 tablespoons finely diced red onion
1½ teaspoons seeded, minced jalapeño
1 bay leaf
1½ cups seeded, diced plum tomatoes
1 teaspoon Roasted-Garlic Puree (recipe below)
6 ounces rock shrimp or small shrimp, peeled and deveined
8 ounces dried orzo, cooked according to package directions
1½ cups chicken stock
¼ teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
¼ teaspoon hot pepper sauce
⅛ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
⅛ teaspoon ground white pepper ⅛ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Season the chicken with ¼ teaspoon Cajun seasoning. Melt the butter and oil in a large nonstick sauté pan over high heat. Add the andouille and sauté for 2 minutes. Add the seasoned chicken and cook for an additional 4 minutes, stirring frequently so the chicken does not stick to the pan. Reduce the heat to medium-high; stir in the ham, pork, bell pepper, celery, onions, jalapeño and bay leaf; sauté for 3 more minutes. Add the tomatoes, garlic puree and remaining 1 teaspoon Cajun seasoning; continue cooking for 6 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are soft. Stir in the shrimp and cook for 2 more minutes. Stir the orzo into the mixture, pour in the chicken stock, and add the Worcesters hire and hot pepper sauces, ground black and white peppers, and red pepper flakes. Bring to a simmer and cook for 3 minutes. Remove the bay leaf. Serve on plates and top with the cheese.

Angel Dust Cajun Seasoning
3 Tbsp Hungarian paprika
1½ Tbsp Spanish paprika
5 Tsp salt
1¼ tsp dried thyme leaves
1¼ tsp dried oregano
1 tsp ground white pepper
½ tsp dried basil
½ tsp cayenne pepper
¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper
⅛ tsp garlic powder
⅛ tsp onion powder

Combine all ingredients in a small bowl until thoroughly mixed. Store in an airtight container. The spice mix keeps its best flavor for about 2 months. It is also available from our website, heavenonseven.com.

Shredded Smoked Pork Shoulder Butt
2 ¾-pound smoked boneless pork shoulder butt
1 3-ounce package crab boil in a bag
1 tablespoon Angel Dust Cajun Seasoning (see recipe above)
Hot tap water

Place the pork, crab boil and Cajun seasoning in a 5-quart Dutch oven. Add enough hot tap water to completely cover the meat. Put the lid on the pot and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for 2 hours, adding hot water as needed to keep the meat immersed. Drain and cool slightly. Cut the meat into several pieces and place in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse on and off a few times until the meat is broken up. Process for another 20 to 30 seconds, or until the meat is finely shredded. Keep refrigerated, or store unused meat in freezer bags in ½- to 1-cup portions in the freezer.

Roasted-Garlic Puree (and Garlic Oil)
1 cup peeled garlic gloves
1 cup extra-virgin or regular olive oil

Preheat the oven to 300°. Place the garlic in a small ovenproof container and pour in the oil. Use additional oil if needed to completely immerse all the garlic cloves. Cover the container with aluminum foil and roast 1 hour, until garlic is soft and light golden brown. Strain the garlic and place in a blender along with 2 tablespoons of the oil. Puree to a smooth consistency, adding a small amount of oil if necessary. Pour into a container and cover the top of the puree with a thin layer of the oil. Cover and store in the refrigerator. Reserve the remaining garlic-infused oil in another container and refrigerate.