Out of the ashes of the Old Topanga Fire in 1993 and then the Woolsey Fire of 2018, a local woman has found a way to help her devasted neighbors affected by the blazes in a way she knows best — by cooking.
Renowned chef, cooking instructor and local philanthropist Cathy Rogers has released another cookbook with all proceeds going to fire victims to help in their recoveries.
Rogers recounted she started cooking as soon as she got married “because my mom and my grandmother were amazing cooks.” Unfortunately, as a young married, Rogers lost a child and fell into a depression. Her circle of Malibu women friends encouraged and nearly demanded that she teach them how to cook as a way of supporting their friend in her time of need.
“At that point I didn’t realize what they were trying to do,” she said. “I knew they were really good people, but it actually started my career of helping people do what I do with cooking and passing it to others like my mom and grandmother did with me. It started a beautiful thing.”
At just 21 years old, Rogers was asked by UCLA to teach cooking courses and her career in a kitchen took off. She’s since taught at many prestigious venues including on high-end cruise ships. She is a regular volunteer cooking instructor at Hand in Hand, the well-respected social program for special needs young adults at the Malibu Jewish Center and Synagogue.
In 1993, the Malibu resident of 50 years was at a baby shower shortly after the Old Topanga Fire and learned the shower recipient had lost her home.
“She lost everything — every layette; all the baby’s furnishingsk,” Rogers said.
The late Marlene Marks, who was a beloved Malibu writer at the time, was also at the shower.
“I adored her,” Rogers said. “I asked her, ‘What are we going to do to help?’ We decided on a cookbook.”
That was the birth of the original “Malibu’s Cooking Again” cookbook. With support from The Malibu Times and recipes from local restaurants and residents Malibu’s Cooking Again was a success with all proceeds going to fire victims and Malibu charities.
The latest cookbook, “Malibu’s Cooking Again 2,” includes all new recipes, but this time focuses on cherished recipes from Malibu families.
“It’s more personal,” according to Rogers.
Again, all the proceeds will go to victims of the Woolsey Fire.
Rogers credits The Malibu Times photographer Julie Ellerton with inspiring her to write the second edition of this charitable endeavor.
“She was instrumental” in getting the new edition together,” she said. “I can’t thank her enough.”
One of Ellerton’s photos inspired the new cookbook’s cover: a whale spouting hearts in the ocean with a property deed peeking through the background. The use of the deed is to remind that “so many people didn’t have the money from their insurance to rebuild. It’s about a whale spouting hearts and love in hopes people will be able to rebuild. That we could help through the cookbook was my prayer, to raise money with a fund for them.”
“Malibu’s Cooking Again 2” is available at local stores including Pistol and Lucy, The Malibu Colony Company, Bungalow Design, Surfing Cowboys, and on Amazon, but “It would be so much better to purchase it locally because we want to support our local stores too,” Rogers emphasized.
The philanthropist also wanted Woolsey Fire victims to know she’d be happy to give a copy of “Malibu’s Cooking Again 2” to anyone affected. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The new book includes all kinds of delicious recipes and for the upcoming holidays of Easter and Passover Rogers touted a recipe for a grilled tenderloin of lamb with purple yams and a sake glaze and also cheesecake lollipops appropriate for both holidays.
As a five-decade resident of Malibu, Rogers has seen quite a few fires and known many who’ve lost their homes.
“Malibu has my heart,” she said. ” It’s been wonderful to us. The people, the stores, the churches and synagogues, the shoe guy, the cleaners — everybody is family. Everybody supports each other. That’s why we’re so blessed to live here. Each neighbor is like family to us. The only way I knew how to do this (help) was through cooking. We want to help. This is my way of helping.”