For as long as I can recall, thinking and acting regionally has been advocated for Northwest Indiana.
But the record of cooperation isn't so good. Starting in the 1980s, a study by Indiana State University urged Hammond, Gary and East Chicago unite to form one large city of Calumet.
The ink wasn't dry on the report before it was thoroughly denounced and relegated to the stack of such studies.
More recently, fire departments in Munster and Highland considered uniting to save costs and improve service. There is also occasional talk of merging Dyer, Schererville and St. John.
All of these ideas had merit but lacked a dose of political will for them to reach reality.
And so I was pleasantly surprised when chefs from an assortment of Northwest Indiana restaurants joined to stage the recent Meals On Wheels “Dine with the Chefs” event.
Sandra Noe, executive director of Meals on Wheels, came to my table, saying I needed to see the example of regional cooperation taking place in the kitchen of the Avalon Banquet Center. Sure enough, I watched as chefs from 14 restaurants — many competitors — worked side by side to prepare the gourmet meal for those attending the fundraiser.
These chefs deserve a lot of credit for stepping forward and making the regional event a success.
By way of recognition, the chefs are: Mike Zubay, Ameristar; Kristen, Karl and Ana, Abuelo's; Adam Brown, Avalon; Joel Krauklis, Bar Louie; Harry Karahalios, Briar Ridge; Elias Hanne, Hobart Elks; Mark Angeles, Horseshoe; Cheryl Molenda, the Inn at Aberdeen; Elida Abeyta and Beverly Seleb, Ivy Tech; Ken Regan, Radisson; Joe Gaal, Sage; Tony Sanfillippo, Svagati; Tim Merkel, Youche.
There are other examples of cooperation: United Way in Lake and Porter counties; the Northwest Indiana Regional Development Authority, to name two.
But a great deal of cooperation needs to be achieved.
More examples are needed, such as the chefs donating time to support a worthwhile cause without thought of competition.