JAMES BEARD AWARDS; THE JOFFREY BALLET SPRING GALA; ABOUT FACE THEATRE'S WONKA BALL; AMERICAN CANCER SOCIETY'S DISCOVERY BALL; CHICAGO INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL'S TELEVISION AWARDS; ANSEL & OPIE; WILL TOMMY BE A MASTER CHEF?; SERVICE CLUB OF CHICAGO'S SPRING LUNCHEON; CULINARY FIGHT CLUB FIGHTS 2 FEED; YOU MUST C CHICAGO; PAWS' ANGELS WITH TAILS; HOWARD'S LATEST HONOR; FUN VIDEOS AND SO MUCH MORE!
Before the BIG awards show at the Civic Opera House, the best chefs in the U.S. gathered together at Gibsons Restaurant Group's The Montgomery Club to kick-off celebrations for the city's first year of hosting the prestigious James Beard Foundation Awards. The Montgomery Club,
an elegant private dining venue helmed by GRG, hosted Chefs Night Out on Sunday, May 3. For this pre-party celebration before the Beardies, past winners and present
nominees, along with culinary industry and city leaders, enjoyed GRP’s legendary Chicago hospitality. Founded by Steve Lombardo and Hugo Ralli, GRG was a natural fit for the Awards' first year in the city. John Colletti, GRG managing partner, explains, “When the James Beard Foundation executive
committee toured the city with Choose Chicago to understand the excellence of Chicago’s culinary community, they lunched at Gibsons. We wanted to showcase what defines Chicago’s hospitality with great food and
memorable service. We’re honored to be selected as the host for the Foundation’s Chefs’ Night Out celebration as part of the Awards’ weekend.” As lucky guests arrived,
they entered into a timeless setting with classic décor – an elegant space fitted with rich mahogany millwork and decorations commemorating the city. The patio space was
transformed with a grand clear-top tent along with custom branded bars and three large chandelier installations by Event Creative. Highlights of the night included five Chicago-themed gourmet food stations presented by GRG Corporate Executive Chef Randy Waidner and Quartino Ristorante & Wine Bar co-founder and executive Chef John Coletta. Dishes
were served from the group’s iconic menus and included house cured salami, oysters, U10 shrimp cocktail classics and filet mignon sliders. A carving station showcased Gibsons’own USDA Prime Angus Beef Program. (They are the first and only restaurant group in the country with an exclusive
USDA certification). Other quintessential Chicago dishes included a Vienna Street Hot Dog Cart with umbrella and all the fixings of yellow mustard (no ketchup!), relish, onions, tomatoes, sport peppers, celery salt, and a pickle, along with the Maxwell
Street Polish Sausage. At midnight, customized tins of Garretts Popcorn were served by the staff decked out in Garretts-themed attire. Breadcrumb Pro hosted an interactive photo booth to further enhance the guest experience. Attendees enjoyed late-night snacks from Chicago’s top food trucks including Beaver’s Donuts, Fat Shallot, 5411 Empanadas,
and Lou Malnati’s Pizzeria. The LUXBAR beverage team created a signature cocktail for the evening called the "Roadside Attraction," It consisted of Dewar’s 12
Year, Amaro Averna, lemon juice, and thyme-infused honey. (Wowza!) Celebrity DJ White Shadow kept the crowd's adrenaline pumping with his hot mixes throughout the night. Congrats to GRG for this wonderful night to kick-off the first James Beard Awards in Chicago!
The following night, I attended the James Beard Foundation Awards show. I'm no foodie, but I do love a good party, so I was really excited to experience the "Oscars of the
culinary world." As we approached the venue (the Civic Opera House), we knew it was a "happening" just judging by the enormity of traffic on a Monday night. I could hardly make it to the entrance due to Red Carpet madness. As I threaded
my way in, I noted a surprising lack of security. I wandered through the gala area, snapped some pics of the incredible displays, including my favorite, a giant ice sculpture/sushi bar featuring a variety of fish frozen encased inside from Wicker Park Seafood & Sushi. I checked out the theater and
took some more pics before finding my way to the media room downstairs. This space was locked and loaded and ready for action with a full bar and food stations as well as large screen TVs that would be transmitting the event live. And as much as I love the fact that the Awards are here in Chicago, there were a few hits
and misses: 1) The awards ceremony lasted way too long at over 3 1/2 hours. No need to thank every busboy who ever helped you. Also, maybe we can just feature the BIG awards and list others in the program book? Just
sayin'.....2) Loved the way Chicago dressed up for the event. I must say, I swelled with pride over our hometown peeps who looked mighty fine! 3) Emcee Alton Brown put my teeth on edge when he sang a rendition of the Beatles tune, "The Beat Goes On", renaming it "The Meat Goes On." He
said "Chicago is a meat-centric kind of city." More humorless meat jokes followed....we can definitely cut this part for next year! 4) I loved musical guest Shermekia Copeland's song, "I'm a Hungry Woman." Clever and she was terrific!
5) Rich Melman receiving the Lifetime Achievement Award was the highlight for me. I especially loved his "no-frills", interesting acceptance speech. He
shared this advice: "You can't make a bad deal with a good person and you can't make a good deal with a bad person." I also loved this: "A lot of people ask me what my favorite restaurant is. It's RJ Grunts, because if it wasn't successful, I wouldn't be standing here and it's where I met my wife Martha."
Awwwww......6) I wish Mayor Emanuel would get a new tagline....again I heard, "Chicago is the most American of American cities." Sigh.....7) Next year, we definitely need better sound to view the program in the media room. It wasn't until 8:30 that someone finally hooked up speakers. Some of the writers who were on deadline
looked absolutely suicidal over the fact they couldn't hear the comments. 8) I thought Chicago deserved more awards, but am grateful for the ones we did receive: Donnie Madia (a partner in One Off Hospitality Group)
won for outstanding restaurateur; Violet Hour won for Best Bar Program and Outstanding Restaurant Design honors went to designers Tom Nahabedian and James Gorski for the restaurant Brindelle (534 N. Clark St.). 9) I'm not sure the Civic Opera House is the right venue for the
Gala following the Awards ceremony. With its warren of small rooms, there was no place for the huge crowds to comfortably sample the night's delicious food offerings from nearly 30 chefs. 10) I loved the opening video that showed various
Chicago landmarks representing food-related images....wine was poured into the Millennium Park Bean, Wrigley Field was depicted as a serving dish and Marina Towers was transformed
into a knife and fork. Clever. 11) Adored the "Chef Whisperer" video (see it below) and loved the "Look Back" video too of award winning chefs' moments and what they do with their medals. Both cute and funny. 12) Mariano's was a sponsor and Bob Mariano was a presenter. He did a great job. 13) Best of all, love the money all the "Beardies" (my new word) spent on restaurants in our city! Can't wait for next year....and the next year! (Additional pics by Francis Son, the official event photographer)
The Joffrey Ballet closed out the 2014-2015 season with its annual Spring Gala, "Be Moved", on April 17. More than 850 of Chicago's cultural leaders were in attendance for a magical celebration of the company’s 20 years in Chicago. Hosted by co-chairs/Women's Board members Noren Ungaretti and Elizabeth Yntema, the black-tie evening included a performance at The
Cadillac Palace Theatre as well as an inspiring performance by members of the Community Engagement Program. Joffrey Academy Artistic Director Alexei Kremnev presented
"Windy Sand" that was performed by members of the Joffrey Academy Trainee Program and Studio Company. Following the performances, guests were whisked via trolleys to the Hilton Chicago for the gala dinner. A 20th anniversary toast, hosted by Moët & Chandon, was offered by the choreographers and the Joffrey Company. The
evening concluded with dancing to Rich Daniels and the City Lights Orchestra. The Gala raised more than $ 1 million to support The Joffrey Ballet and its educational and community engagement programs. Notables in attendance included international award-winning choreographer Christopher Wheeldon, New
York City Ballet resident choreographer Justin Peck, CNBC’s The Profit Marcus Lemonis, Desirée Rogers, Brian Johnson, Anne Kaplan, Helen
Melchior, Ken Norgan, Amelia and Alejandro Silva, Anne and Zach Lazar, Dana and Robert Garvey, Laura Kofoid, Carol Stone, Bette Cerf Hill and Bruce Sagan, Cheryle and Joel Williamson, Kathleen Henson, Shelley Farley and Marko Iglendza and Neal Zucker. Congrats to this world class ballet company on its 20th remarkable season! (Photos by Cheryl Mann and Dan Rest).
More than 400 guests came to claim their "15 minutes of fame" as Chicago's About Face Theatre celebrated its 19th year at WONKA BALL, this year themed WARHOL, at Moonlight Studios. The
gala was a celebration of pop art icon Andy Warhol and his cadre of celebrities and raised more than $60,000 for About Face's programming and new play development.
Following a VIP reception, many guests decked out in Warhol-inspired attire, spilled into the main event. There they enjoyed Warhol-inspired art-making, a video
lounge with short films by Warhol and contemporary Chicago filmmakers, live body-painting, performance artists, a punch-out prize wall and so much more! (Whew!) Each guest was given a Warhol Superstar name upon entry into "The Factory." Favorites included Xena Quinoa, Orchid Discostick, Hashtag Poundsign, Tolkein Straightguy and Foxie Segundo. LOL!
Partygoers entered the main event space through a hallway with over 175 silver mylar balloons as an homage to Andy Warhol's iconic Silver Clouds installation. Matthew
Lew finished two pieces of art live in the space which were auctioned off at the end of the evening while DJ Swaguerrilla spinned tunes. Guests enjoyed signature cocktails and scrumptious eats from Wolfgang Puck, Andersonville
Brewing, Wow Bao, Garrett Popcorn, Swirlz Cupcakes, Hamburger Mary's and Insomnia Cookies. The live and silent auctions featured dozens of prizes from Warhol-inspired artwork to vacation packages. Honorary co-chairs were AFT Artistic
Associate Precious Davis, John Dalton and Kristen Kaza. In keeping with the spirit of the event, Artistic Associates Philip Dawkins, John Francisco and Elizabeth Ledo dressed up as members of The Velvet
Underground. An interactive exhibit called "Andy Warhol's Flesh" invited guests to paint on models' bodies. The Red Weddings photo booth was a big hit printing over 500 photos for guests, with some group shots as many as 10 times! Edgewater Workbench's 3D Printing gave away
little plastic soup cans and bananas as mementos for Wonka Ball guests. Since 1995, About Face has created exceptional, innovative, and adventurous plays that advance the national dialogue on gender and
sexual identity and have entertained and challenged audiences in Chicago, across the country and around the world. Support from the Wonka Ball enables
About Face to thrive as Chicago’s celebrated center for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, (LGBT) arts, an inclusive home where diverse artists, youth, audiences and community partners come together for artistic exchange and cultural dialogue. (Photos by Timmy Samuel).
The American Cancer Society’s 2015 Discovery
Ball is one of the top rated charity events in the nation and, this year, it raised more than $2.8 million! This 9th annual Gala attracted 700 guests and plus 130 volunteers on April 25 at the Radisson Blu Aqua Hotel.
Nancy Yaw, executive vice president Lakeshore Division of the American Cancer Society, said, “From corporate donors and volunteers, to Society staff, our presenting partner, Catamaran, and chairs, Mark and Nasrin Thierer, the noble efforts of so
many will have a tremendous impact on the support and service we offer those who face a cancer diagnosis and their families. There is no doubt that this event continues to play an important
role in helping the Society advance our mission.” A highlight of the event featured a performance from comedian and actor Paul Reiser, who is well known for his starring role on the critically acclaimed NBC series “Mad About You,” which garnered him multiple Emmy, Golden Globe,
American Comedy Award and Screen Actor Guild nominations. United Airlines was feted with the 2015 Corporate Partnership Award in recognition of their leadership and fundraising support since the
Discovery Ball's inception in 2007. In the past eight years, United Airlines has secured more than $1 million in sponsorship revenue and more than $825,000 in-kind donations for the Society. Contributing to
the evening’s fundraising success was a spirited auction which featured a U.S. Open Sports package valued at over $12,000 for both the storied golf and tennis tournaments located at Chambers Bay Golf Course in Wash., and Conrad Billie
Jean King National Tennis Center in New York City; a three-night stay at a private villa at the Four Seasons Resort in Nevis (Caribbean) valued at over $29,000; a $26,000 Tiffany necklace with South Sea cultured pearls; a seven-night Taste of Napa Valley winery trip including tastings and tours at more than a dozen wineries with a
value of more than $25,000; and many more. Mark your calendars now for next year's Discovery Ball on Saturday, April 2nd, it's always a sell-out! (Photos by Dawn and Bob Davis Photography).
The Chicago International Film Festival Television Awards honored the finest television productions and commercials from around the world on Wednesday, April 23, co-hosted by the fabulous duo of Windy City
Live's Ji Suk Yi and Dan Ponce. Special honors were awarded to meteorologist Tom Skilling, investigative journalist Jay Levine, advertising legend Tom Burrell, post-production house Whitehouse Post, and the Onion, among others. The following is a complete list of winners for all television categories. The awards given are as follows: Gold Hugo,
Silver Hugo, Gold Plaque, Silver Plaque and Certificate of Merit. To see all the winners, click here. (I was thrilled my internet show, "Candid Candace Chicago," won another award from the Festival for one of our online segments. See it here!) Congrats to Michael Kutza and his terrific team on another great event! (Photos by Robert Martinez and Timothy M. Schmidt).
Thanks so much to cool blog, Ansel & Opie, for featuring me in their latest edition! Their awesome site is described as "a blog about fashion and such that features on trend fashion editorials as well as awesome artists
and brands that inspire us." It's an honor to be included....thank YOU!!! (See article here).
Congrats to Chicago's own, Tommy Walton, fashion designer and teacher at The School of The Art Institute of Chicago! He's a contestant on the FOX blockbuster hit TV show MasterChef! Tommy will be competing in the highly anticipated two hour season premier for the coveted white apron in the biggest culinary competition in the world! Good luck Tommy and congrats!
I hope you were able to catch my latest Steve Harvey Show "Class Act" segment on May 1! I transformed a country girl into an elegant lady and Steve said it was the "best makeover yet"! Watch the fun below!
On May 18, the Service Club of Chicago will host its annual Spring Luncheon, "An Afternoon in the Garden", this year co-hosted by Kristina McGrath and Susan Colletti. The elegant affair will be held at the Ritz-Carlton with a reception beginning at 11 am and wonderful music by the one and only Stanley Paul! For tickets and more info, click here!
PAWS Chicago's "Angels with Tails" adoption event will take place up and down Oak Street on Sunday, May 31, from noon to 4 pm. Come out and see the "adorable adoptables" that are looking for their forever homes!
Tech guru Howard Tullman (1871), will be honored by the Illinois Humanities Council at a benefit luncheon on May 14 at the Palmer House. The event will be co-chaired by Joel Henning, Murray Peretz, Richard Price and Marie Tillman. For tickets and more info, click here. Congrats Howard!
Keep up the great work!
If you haven't experienced a Culinary Fight Club (founded by Jiwon McCartney), then you are missing out on a WHOLE lot of foodie fun! This event is carried out at different restaurants and venues throughout the city
and is a real "throw down" between experienced chefs. For this recent event, held at Zed 451, judges included Beth Peterson (Yummie Nation blogger), Anthony Martorina (Foodie, Yelp expert and Google blogger), Wade Fortin
(World Food Burger champ) and moi! Competing chefs were Andrea Williams (chef de cuisine at ZED 451), Joe Arvin (Mad Love Cooking, Cut Throat Kitchen, Big Brother and Food Truck TV) and Anna Saavedra (Carnivale director of sales and catering). For this Taste Bud Challenge, each chef prepared spring rolls and the place was packed with
knowledgeable food lovers and partygoers. And the Golden Ticket winner was......JOE ARVIN! His take on the challenge included pork bellies! (He had me at pork!) The event raised funds for Fight 2 Feed, an organization dedicated to "knocking out hunger in our neighborhoods, one block at a time." Hope to see
you at the next party! For info, click here.
There's a new restaurant in town from the Chicago Cut Cuties, David Flom and Matt Moore! C Chicago is located at 20 W. Kinzie (in the spot where Keefer's used to be). It's
been masterfully transformed into a bright, airy space with fabulous seafood (that you eat 8 hours after being caught!), a great looking bar and a chic outdoor patio. It also houses the largest aquarium (a 2000 gallon saltwater tank) next to the Shedd in Illinois! We loved it and will be back soon! Check it out and congrats David and Matt on this new hotspot!
I want to thank the Telly Awards for recently honoring my internet show, "Candid Candace TV," with a People's Choice Award for our documentary "Max's Story". I stand in awe of The Herrick Family, Ronald McDonald House Ambassadors, and their unwavering love and support for one another through good times and bad. (This show will air on CAN-TV May 28, at 8 pm and throughout June).
Hope you've enjoyed this latest edition and that you'll become a regular subscriber! Be the first to see the newest posts as they come out, my lists are spam free, are never shared and you can opt out at any time!
Love, as always,
P.S. If you missed this week's Candid Candace in the Chicago Tribune from Marwen's Paintbrush Ball, please click here!