PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — What started as an after school project to help orphaned chimpanzees turned into a cookbook sold around the world.
When the group of freshman girls at Grant High School there’s no shortage of laughter and chatter, but they also got to work on this project that even got the attention of former First Lady Michelle Obama.
Originally a group of 14, they set out on a big mission a few years ago while they were all students at Beverly Clearly School.
“The original goal was $25 to the chimp sanctuary,” Brooke Abbruzzese said.
Abbruzzese admired Dr. Jane Goodall’s work with chimpanzees and thought she and her friends could make a cookbook to raise money to help chimps who lost their parents to the bushmeat trade.
“The sanctuary cares for and rehabilitates them I’m sure some can’t go back into the wild, but they can rehabilitate a lot of them to go back into wild,” freshman McKenzie Tell said.
The girls started reaching out to local and international chefs and celebrities, asking for vegetarian recipes. Their work paid off with not only respected chefs writing back with recipes, but Michelle Obama, who contributed a recipe for cucumber soup.
“Every Friday, we got together and we worked on the cookbook,” Maeve Larco said. “We worked on testing recipes and making collages of chefs.”
The end result was their cookbook “Saving Pan” — which refers to many things, the cooking utensil, the genus name of chimpanzees and the correlation to the character and orphan Peter Pan.
“I think if everyone can take a moment and know what it’s about I think we can maybe help a lot of chimpanzees,” Matisse Nash said.
The book sold out in 4 days and is now in its second printing. It costs $25 and you can order it online.
“I think it’s cool to see that we can make an impact,” Talia Baskin said. “Like people from around the world can buy this, see our recipes we’ve put together. I think that’s really cool experience to be a part of.”
State Representative Earl Blumenauer even recognized the girls during a congressional session in December.