THE ROYAL BALLET DAZZLES CHICAGO; CHICAGO ARTIST'S COALITION'S STARVING ARTIST BENEFIT; PRINCESSES WITH A TWIST; CARNIVALE HAS PRIDE; A RUSH STREET REUNION PARTY; MAGIC MIKE ON WCIU; YVETTE'S "UNCONVENTIONALS"; EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT PRIMO CLASSICO 2015; LISLE'S BIG JULY 4TH FUN FEST; STEVE HARVEY WANTS CHICAGO MEN!; PAWS BEACH PARTY, VIDEOS AND SO MUCH MORE!
Eli Schulman's first venture into the restaurant business began in 1940 with the popular coffee shop Eli's Ogden Huddle, later followed by Eli's Stage Delicatessen-- a celebrity hangout for soon-to-be-famous performers like Woody Allen and Barbra Streisand. The who's who of Chicago and the world followed Eli to Eli's the Place for
Steak, a popular restaurant he opened in 1966, where he decided to make cheesecake his signature dessert. Working in his restaurant's kitchen, he created a cheesecake so rich and creamy that his customers proclaimed it Chicago's finest! And so the seed for Eli's Cheesecake Company was planted. In 1980, Eli's
Cheesecake debuted at the first Taste of Chicago immediately becoming a hit with the crowd. And for the past 35 years, Eli's has been the #1 dessert at the famous food festival (and in our house!), serving over 2 million slices! The legend continued at Taste on July 11 when Eli's
Cheesecake Company celebrated its 35th birthday right back in the place where Eli first introduced his delicious cheesecake to the world! A Chicago institution, Eli's Cheesecakes have been present at almost
every major Chicago celebration including at the White Sox World Series and for four presidential inaugurations to name a very few. Its first BIG cake in 1987 celebrated Chicago's 150th birthday. On this festive Saturday, the cake was recreated in all its 1500 lb. glory consisting of original plain and chocolate chip and birthday cake cheesecake, a new
variety made especially for this milestone. Local notables invited to "cut the cake" included Alderman Brian Hopkins, Christopher Kennedy and his wife Sheila (Top Box Foods), Merri Dee, Charlie Robinson (Robinson's Ribs--Eli's and
Robinson's have been next to each other for most of the 35 years of Taste!), Mary Slowik (Taste Manager), Suzanne Bizer (VP Broadway in Chicago), Everett Rand (Midway Wholesalers), Don Fitzgerald (Sr. VP Mariano's), Sam Toia
(President of the Illinois Restaurant Association), me (:-) and others. A HUGE crowd gathered for the ceremony, watching the ginormous cheesecake make its journey via forklift to the Big Cake Tent near
Buckingham Fountain. Eli's pastry chefs, including its executive pastry chef Laurel Boger, prepared the cake for the Grand Cake Cutting Ceremony after emcee Bill Zwecker and Eli's Maureen and Marc Schulman welcomed the crowd. They introduced the notables onstage followed by a birthday song from the cast members of the Tony Award-winning musical "Kinky Boots"!
And the party continued at the "World's Earliest After-Party" with a BBQ and dessert extravaganza in the South Hospitality tent! Happy birthday to Eli's, Maureen and Marc Schulman, their family and amazing team! Chicago is SOOOO lucky to have YOU! You make the world a much sweeter place for sure! (All GOOD pics by Jennifer Girard)!
The Royal Ballet returned to Chicago after a 37-year-absence with its critically-acclaimed performance of Carlos Acosta’s Don Quixote on June 18 – 21. Under the leadership of Kevin O’Hare, the company made its Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University debut as part of a
three-city U.S. tour which also included The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts. “Concluding our monumental 125th Anniversary International Dance Series, it is my extreme pleasure to welcome back The Royal Ballet to Chicago
after a long absence. Seeing the company perform on our landmark stage will be a memory of a lifetime for all of us,” said Auditorium Theatre Executive Director Brett
Batterson. “The Royal Ballet will bring the finest dancers in the world to Chicago and we are honored to be one of three venues throughout the entire country presenting this esteemed company on their North-American tour.” The Saturday evening
performance was made possible through the generosity of Helen Hall Melchior (Helpful Helen) and the Sunday performance was sponsored by Patti Selander Eylar (president of the Joffrey Ballet Women's Board), both longtime lovers and supporters of dance. Celebrating the return of The Royal Ballet after
this long absence, as well as the extraordinary caliber of dance over the past 125 years, the Auditorium Theatre hosted more than 150 supporters at a special gala co-chaired by David Herro and Jay Franke in honor of the ballet’s historic visit. Guests enjoyed a cocktail reception at the new Chicago
Athletic Association Hotel before dinner in the beautiful White City Ballroom with incredible views of Millennium Park from floor to ceiling windows. The room was adorned in a "Covent Garden" theme with glorious arrangements of flowers on each
table. Auditorium Theatre's Brett Batterson welcomed guests and Royal Ballet's ED Kevin O'Hare spoke of his performances on the Auditorium stage when he himself was a dancer. He then introduced two of his principal dancers, Marianela Nunez and Carlos Acosta (also the choreographer of
the production of Don Quixote that opened at the Auditorium) who would dance his last performance EVER in a story ballet during the opening night performance. British Consul General Stephen and Mrs. Kim Bridges were the evening’s honorary chairs.
The talents of some of Chicago’s top visual and culinary artists were robustly on display on June 25 when Chicago Artists Coalition’s (CAC) annual benefit, Starving Artist,
brought together 450 leading artists, chefs, collectors and art-loving guests. The event raised a record-breaking $105,250 and kicked off with a VIP pre-party at CAC’s west loop gallery space at 217 N.
Carpenter St. Performance artists The Power of Cheer led the guests to Venue One where artists and chefs collaborated to create delicious food stations that dazzled the eyes and tempted the palate. Participating chefs included Sean Pharr (The Bristol), Tony Quartaro (Formento’s), Pat Sheerin (Trencherman)
and Shawn Doolin (Venue One), along with burgers and frozen custard from Shake Shack. A full-sized tree, created by artist Tory Terzakis, outfitted with culinary dishes and colorful birds adorned the entrance of the event. Other art included Marissa Lee Benedict and Amber Ginsberg’s large sculptural table built with reclaimed old-growth lumber and held
together by nylon webbing. Artist Andrew Rosinski created a minimalist sculpture of dry ice complete with a custom engraved silver coin hovering above. Abstract photos of food and nail art created by artist Maurene Cooper
adorned the walls. Everyone’s sweet tooth was satisfied by colorful dessert stations complete with multicolored paper straws created by artist Stacia Yeapanis. The party concluded with dancing music by DJ Swaguerrilla. Executive
Director Caroline Older said, “This event is not only one our biggest fundraising initiatives, it also is a great opportunity for artists to collaborate with the incredibly innovative chefs who make Chicago such a vibrant hotbed of creativity." The event
also honored the 2015 MAKER Grant recipients, Chicago-based contemporary visual artists/educators Jeremiah Hulsebos-Spofford and Samantha Hill. The award is bestowed on artists who demonstrate a commitment to a sustainable artistic practice and career development. Guests in attendance included CAC Board members Tony Karman (CAC board chair),
Joel Strauss, Susan Aurinko, Todd Heiser, and Tricia Van Eck, host committee members Todd Heiser (event co-chair), Louis Grachos (In-Situ curator for EXPO and Executive Director of The Contemporary Austin), Ian Gray, Sarah Belknap and Joseph Belknap, CAC staff members Caroline Older, Teresa Silva and Mary DeYoe as well as Jack and Sandra Guthman, Carolina Jayaram, Rodney Lubeznik, Jeffrey and Maggie Shapack, Eva Silverman, Ted and Lori Souder and Elisa Tenny. The funds raised will support CAC's
year-round commitment to providing educational resources, exhibitions, opportunities and networks for Chicago artists of all disciplines. (Photos by Greg Rothstein and Russell Lord).
Chicago's leading and most effective centers for transitional housing and support for homeless single heads of households and their children. Hosted by Diane and Quintin Primo, this year’s event will once again immerse guests in the European luxlife. The evening,
which will honor Congressman Danny Davis as the Primo Global Humanitarian, will include tastings of gourmet cuisine from an exclusive selection by Chicago chefs, wine pairings, entertainment, private jets; luxury automobiles, precision motorcycles, a
fashion installation, a super deluxe auction and (possibly) the international unveiling of an automobile from a legendary Italian coachbuilder! Primo Classico will be held inside Hawthorne Global Aviation Services’ brand new 30,000 square foot state-of-the-art aircraft hangar in Wheeling, IL. Luxury
and motorcycles from Ducati. The private planes that will be on display include a Pilatus PC-12, a Hawker 800 XNP, a Falcon 2000 and a helicopter!!! As an added benefit for sponsors and premium ticket
purchasers, Qatar Airways is sponsoring the VIP World's Business Class Lounge at the event! And on Sunday, October 11, a brunch will be held at the Primo residence for VIP ticket holders! More info on the event can be found here and for info on the center, click here! I hope to see you ALL at this exciting annual fundraiser for a great cause! (Photos by Mila Samokhina)
I'm so thrilled for my former chiropractor and all-around awesome woman, Dr. Amelia Case! She and her daughters are lifting the veil on antiquated fairy tales and updating them to be empowering and uplifting for a new generation of young girls! Her series, Princesses With A Twist (PWAT), was
created by Amelia and her two daughters after they became frustrated with the limiting messages in the traditional princess books to Find the Guy, Get the Kiss, and Settle Down. These characters don’t stop
being who they are just because one book ends and the world isn’t watching anymore. Case said, "I felt there was more to these women and their stories because the princesses overcame such hardships and adversity. This is about the princesses wanting to be who they were meant to be and doing what they love to do and having success doing it. I realized as I
began creating these books with my girls that not only did it open the doors to spark creativity and ambition among my family; it also built a sisterhood and community with friends and family around
the world that fell in love with the intelligent and uplifting content. Bringing the real Happily Ever After to life. Don’t you agree that the world needs little girls that are empowered by the message of teamwork, tolerance, intelligence, and achievement?" I know I do and AMEN Dr. Case! If you agree, please help fund this much-needed series (the books will also be donated to schools) through this Kickstarter campaign here!
There were Pride parties all over town on the weekend of June 26th, but maybe none more exuberantly celebrated that the one at Carnivale, the colorful Latin-fusion restaurant located in Chicago’s West Loop neighborhood (702 W. Fulton Market). They celebrated Pride Weekend with a glitzy and glamorous night of drag, cabaret and dessert hosted by Aly Bockler, “You & Me This Morning” and Angi Taylor, 103.5 KISS-FM. The event featured the talents of Natasha Douglas, Tila Von Twirl, Ray Ray Sunshine, Switch Boi Wonder, Siren Jinx and DJ AJ Dubbz & Carla Starla. “Carnivale has always been a huge supporter of the LGBT community, so we couldn’t be more excited to have kicked off this high energy weekend with a fun-loving performance,” said General Manager Ozzie Godoy. “Whether an out-of-towner from a nearby hotel, celebrating a bachelor or bachelorette party or a friends night out, our guests can look forward to a lively and memorable evening.” Carnivale’s cuisine explores dishes from Central and South America, Cuba, Spain and the Caribbean with decor featuring energetic colors, glamour, photography and wild design by Jerry Kleiner.
Make sure you mark your calendars NOW to attend next year's Eyes to the Skies Hot Air Balloon Festival in Lisle during the July 4th weekend! It was a blast and reminiscent of a small town carnival, except on sterioids! So many food vendors
(more than 40), great arts and crafts, awesome Kiddie Korner (Bob the Balloon Man was fabulous), tethered hot-air balloon rides and so much more! Congrats to event organizers on this must-attend July 4th celebration! We had a blast! (This festival benefits local charities too with over $100K donated to date)!
Under the category of It's-About-Time, a Rush Street Reunion 2015 Party will be held on August 30th! It will bring together some of the original musicians, vocalists, and DJ’s from the famed Rush Street area
nightclubs, restaurants and dance clubs of the 1970’s to the 1990’s and is billed as "the ultimate industry reunion party"! In a rare Chicago appearance, legendary pianist Danny Long (Backroom, London House, and Mister Kelly’s) will perform with his trio featuring Nick Schneider on bass, Rusty Jones on drums, with select Chicago celebrity vocalists and instrumentalists sitting
in. (I'll miss the original crooner Jimmy Damon but I know his spirit will be there!) Guitarist Ronnie Laas (Rush Up, Mother’s, Whisky a Go-Go) will also be making an appearance with a mighty blues/rock
quartet. The day will culminate with a two-hour set of disco and dance music from: “Dr.Dale” Dale Kolbus (FACES, Mother’s, P.S. Chicago); DJ David Floodstrand (Eddie Rockets, Hangge Uppe, Hunt Club), and Steve Reiter “DJ Sloride” (Mother’s, Hunt Club). The Rush
Street Reunion 2015 is a Lupus Foundation of America partner and a portion of the proceeds will be donated to fund Lupus research. Floodstrand, long-time Chicago jazz vocalist, club DJ, owner of the DJ School of Skokie, and soon-to-be
published author is producing the event. (Floodstrand’s forthcoming book, Rush Street, Chicago’s Street of Dreams, chronicles the rich and diverse history of the Rush Street area of Chicago, from the 1800’s to the 1980’s). The event will take place at Connie’s Pizza, 1030 N. State Street, Chicago, on Sunday August 30th from 2:00 pm to 7:00 pm. Tickets, $40, are available in advance through The Rush Street Reunion 2015’s official website. Included
in the ticket price, will be passed hors d'oeuvres, and a buffet featuring Connie’s signature pizzas; a carving station; salad bar; and other delicacies prepared by Connie’s executive chef. I remember these years well and also
remember all the characters who made the street legendary. I hope to see them all on August 30th!
It was such fun to return to WCIU's "You & Me This Morning" for a July 4th segment
titled "Do You Know America." The quiz was produced and hosted by Chris DeRose. I was paired with Jeanne Sparrow and darling Ashlee Piper (Lil' Foxes blog) was Melissa Forman's partner. Team Forman won, but we were close! And speaking of Chris, don't miss his
starring role in this funny parody of "Magic Mike"!
Congrats are in order for photographer extraordinaire, Yvette Marie Dostatni, who appeared on Windy City LIVE! to promote her amazing soon-to-be book of photos titled "The Unconventionals." During her interview with Ji Suk Yi, she said she has
"photographed everything from the pimp convention to the Polka Convention." Her recent kickstarter campaign was a success so look for her book coming soon! Congrats Yvette! (You can also find her cool pics in my Sunday Chicago Tribune column!)
Primp your pup for PAWS Chicago's annual Beach Party coming July 23 to the Castaways at North Avenue Beach at 6 pm! There will be a doggie spa, a lavish beach buffet, dancing, fundraising, adopting and so much more! For tickets and more info, click here!
That's all for now! I hope you enjoy reading my blog as much as I enjoy bringing it to you! And remember, if you would like to subscribe, please click here! (My list is completely spam free and never sold.)
Love, as always,
P.S. And now, something to make you smile.....:-)