Traverse City Record-Eagle


March 14, 2013

Chef spins yarn, cookies for St. Patrick's Day

TRAVERSE CITY — It may be blarney, but Tom Sisco swears by the magic of his Shamrock Cookies.

The buttery treats dusted with organic green sugar are created once a year by Lonnie the Leprechaun, said Sisco, kitchen manager for Oryana Natural Foods Market. And the tale of their origin is an integral part of the cookies — and vice versa.

The chef and storyteller will share his original tale — and the cookies, of course — in a free Oryana children’s event at 1 p.m. Saturday. It’s a program he’s been presenting on and off in area schools for the last three decades and brought to Oryana last year.

“I started it 30 years ago when my son was in kindergarten,” said Sisco, who first told the impromptu story at Traverse Heights Elementary after dropping off a batch of cookies to his oldest son’s classroom. “Three kids and two grand-kids later I’m still doing it. The first time it was just a 30-second story about this leprechaun who made cookies. And over the years it has evolved.

“Part of is based on my kids’ experience and, as they were growing, I’ve tried to write them into the story. And my grandkids.”

Besides kindergartners at Traverse Heights, rapt audiences have included second-graders at Silver Lake Elementary, upper elementary students at Leland Public Schools and fourth- and fifth-graders at Cherry Knoll Elementary, where Sisco’s program was so entertaining that one student remembered him as Lonnie the Leprechaun seven years later, after running into him at a local mall.

About 30 kids heard the story at Oryana last year, said store manager Eldon Horner.

“It was really well-received. The kids seemed to like it and it’s kind of a fun little thing to do,” Horner said.

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