Professor of Pediatric Dentistry Dr. Michael Kanellis' cookbook 'Iowa Mike's Family Recipes' has provided more than $8,500 toward a fund supporting children's dental care.
Wednesday, March 20, 2024

A UI professor’s cookbook decades in the making has resulted in funding to help children receive dental care at the UI College of Dentistry and Dental Clinics.

Dr. Michael Kanellis, professor of pediatric dentistry, has raised $8,730 by selling his cookbook, Iowa Mike’s Family Recipes. The proceeds are used to finance the Pediatric Smiles Fund, which helps children who are uninsured or underinsured afford quality dental care.

“This fund will make a significant difference for children who have tooth decay and otherwise couldn’t afford treatment,” Kanellis said.

Dr. Michael Knanellis
Dr. Michael Kanellis

The cookbook is 310 pages of recipes that Kanellis has gathered, perfected, and created over the years from award-winning fajitas to McDonald's french fries, and even a recipe for a homemade Casey's Pizza. All proceeds from the book go toward the fund.

“My wife did the cooking for the first 20 years while the kids were home and after that I took over,” Kanellis said on CBS2Iowa’s morning show, “The next thing you know, I had recipes everywhere – in three ring binders, cookbooks, file boxes, and during the pandemic, I collated all of them and self-published the book so I could have all of my recipes in one place.”

Kanellis is not shy about his love for the culinary arts and even remodeled his kitchen to include all the bells and whistles of a gourmet chef.

It was no surprise when dental students Zach Graham and Sydney Fisher, members of the Tau Sigma Military Dental Club, approached Kanellis about establishing this fund and selling his cookbook to generate money for it.

“Dr. Kanellis was often my faculty overseeing my daily clinical experiences,” Graham said. “One day we were talking about making homemade pasta and I came back to my clinic unit to find his cookbook with a note to ‘try the linguini with tomatoes’”. 


Graham asked Kanellis if he ever thought about selling the book. He said he hadn’t but after Graham brought up the idea to raise funds for pediatric patients, he was really excited about it.

“I had an existing version of the cookbook that I had self-published several years ago,” Kanellis said. “I had spent the last year and a half cooking my way through it, throwing out some recipes, and adding new ones, so the timing was good. I just needed to update it online and get it published.”

While Kanellis worked to finalize his cookbook, Graham and Fisher began organizing the details of the fund and where and how to sell it.

Iowa Mike's Family Recipes

Graham and Fisher created the Pediatric Smiles Fund and coordinated dates where Kanellis could be on-hand and pass out his books on the first floor of the Dental Science Building. During three days in February dental students, faculty, and staff were able to pick up a pre-ordered book and talk recipes with Kanellis.

“We had three days over lunch our where individuals could come, get the book, and get it signed by Dr. Kanellis,” Graham said. “So many people had great conversations about different recipes. A group of second-year students even held a potluck where they all made different recipes out of his book.”

Afterwards Kanellis, Graham, and Fisher opened the fund to the public. Kanellis was able to share the Pediatric Smiles Fund with the entire state. He participated in two local morning shows, was interviewed on the radio, and many other media outlets shared information on the Pediatric Smiles Fund online.

“I didn’t know what to expect from two television appearances, but they went well and were a lot of fun,” Kanellis said. “We received a lot of orders for the cookbooks following those appearances."

It was a whirlwind couple of weeks for Kanellis as he promoted his book and the fund. Kanellis, Graham, and Fisher hoped to sell their initial order of 100 cookbooks, but have recently surpassed 350 sales, blowing passed their expectations.

“The takeaway for me would be the power that food has to bring people together, and in this case for a good cause,” Kanellis said. 

Kanellis is still selling his cookbook for $20 with 100% of the money going toward the fund. 

“Of course, people can contribute to the fund without ordering a cookbook, too,” Kanellis added.

Interested individuals can contact Kanellis at to purchase the book or contribute to the fund.