Tuesday, June 21, 2011
A few of our Taste of the Nation Chicago committee members joined the community kitchen, "A Just Harvest" on Father's Day to help dish out dinners for those in need. Located in Roger's Park, "A Just Harvest" serves meals 365 days a year with the help of local partners, volunteers and community donations, making it the largest stand-alone soup kitchen in the Chicago area.
The TOTN Chicago crew helped prepare the food, set up the dining room, stuff gift bags--since it was a holiday after all!--and serve the over 100 diners that arrived to the restaurant-style community kitchen. Families, seniors, and those who just might need a little extra help, are welcomed daily by caring staff and volunteers to sit and enjoy a hot meal. And from the looks of it, AJH has been busy. They served over 54,000 meals in 2010!
Share Our Strength's mission to end childhood hunger synced perfectly with the mission of "A Just Harvest"- to provide hot, nutritious meals to individuals and families, no questions asked. A special thanks is also in order for "A Just Harvest's" Executive Director, Rev. Marilyn Pagán-Banks, who stopped by to give us a general overview of what they are working on this year and who they are serving at the kitchen.
This was my first time volunteering at a soup kitchen, but it will not be my last. I enjoyed getting the chance to interact with the diners (I was the girl with the fruit punch, so I was pretty popular!) and it was a humbling experience for all of us, I'm sure.
For more information on "A Just Harvest" or to get involved, visit www.ajustharvest.org. Hope to see you there soon!
Friday, June 10, 2011
|The Grand Ballroom at night via Navy Pier.|
Friends, the day is fast approaching. After last year's incredible party at the Aragon Ballroom, the question kept getting tossed around about what to do about the heat at the Aragon? Jokingly, we said, well why not move the event to Navy Pier. In our dreams, right? Never in a million years...
Or not. Two months from today exactly, guess what famous Chicago landmark we'll be taking over. Yup. That very same pier.
We've waited with bated breath to break the news, and today is finally the day we're spilling the beans. We're talking Navy Pier, in the Grand Ballroom, with more space than we could ever hope for, including an outdoor terrace that overlooks the water. Somehow, we're thinking air conditioning won't be so much of a problem this year... and if the weather cooperates, the outdoor terrace will be prime location to watch the Navy Pier fireworks. Just saying.
And back this year are favorites from year's past, including Stephanie Izard (Girl and the Goat), Tony Mantuano (Spiaggia, Terzo Piano), Paul Virant (Via, Perennial Virant), Mindy Segal (HotChocolate), Dale Levitski (Sprout), David Posey (Blackbird), Chris Pandel (The Bristol), Giuseppe Tentori (Boka, GT Fish and Oyster), Shawn McClain (Green Zebra), Jason Hammel (Lula, Nightwood), Michael Kornick (DMK, MK), Mark Steuer (The Bedford), Paul Fehribach (Big Jones), and Jared Van Camp (Old Town Social).
|Yup, we have it all to ourselves via Art Hill.|
Not to mention desserts from Jessie Oloroso (Black Dog Gelato), Paula Haney (Hoosier Mama Pie Co.), and restaurant pastry chefs like Kady Yon (Boka, GT Fish and Oyster, Perennial Virant), Amanda Rockman (The Bristol), and Ben Roche (Moto) and more.
Tickets this year are $95 for presale General Admission, and $150 for VIP—but VIP sales have gone so well that today is the very last day to buy them. No joke, after today, individual VIP tickets will no longer be available. Get on the phone with your wife, husband, sister, or whoever and get that planning moving if you want to jump in on the VIP action, because you'll be kicking yourself later on if you miss out—and buy them here.
|What to expect via Laura Meyer.|
We'll have loads more of news to report back on soon, including the return of the chef ride-a-longs with Matt Maroni of Gaztro-Wagon—which means ticket give aways, a kick off party at La Colombe's yet-to-open West Loop cafe, big news about the event itself, and a couple other tricks we have up our sleeves leading up to the event itself. Be sure you're following us on twitter and Facebook, and check the blog regularly for updates from myself and Elizabeth Hamel of the Sun-Times, new this year to the Taste of the Nation committee!
Navy Pier, guys. I mean, come on. Not sure it gets much better than that...
Wednesday, January 26, 2011
Whatever you're planning on doing on February 28th, if it's not sitting snug at a Hot Chocolate table, you might want to reconsider—and if that's too far out to think about, well think about it now. For months Mindy Segal has been putting together the pieces for Hot Chocolate's 6th anniversary dinner, and now those beans have been spilled. Now it's time to put a little No Kid Hungry spin on this bad boy, Segal style.
Mindy's calling it her 666 dinner. And the poster at the top of this post? That was made up specifically for the dinner, and she's selling them that night at $100 a pop, which really isn't so bad when you consider the poster is gonna be printed on high quality paper and autographed by all six of the chefs cooking with Mindy that night—and oh yeah, the proceeds from not only the poster, but also the dinner, are benefitting Share Our Strength. And if $100 is too big a splurge? She'll be selling them them without the chefs' ink, too.
And those six chefs that'll be signing the poster? They're all women. 6 years. 6 chefs. 6 courses.
|Plating at last year's dinner via Stephanie Bassos.|
Here's the lineup:
Host: Mindy Segal, Hot Chocolate
Koren Grieveson, Avec (Chicago)
Stephanie Izard, Girl & the Goat (Chicago)
Naomi Pomeroy, Beast (Portland)
Missy Robins, A Voce (New York)
Celina Tio, JULIAN (Kansas City)
What you need to do is call Hot Chocolate today and grab however many seats you need. Every time I talk to Mindy, the guest list gets longer and longer. They're at (773) 489-1747.
The dinner is selling quick, and a seat costs $200, a portion of which is tax deductible since proceeds benefit Share Our Strength. New Belgium is stepping up with the brews and each course will have its own pairing.
And if for whatever reason all of this isn't enough to plant a X on your calendar that night, here's a look back at last year's anniversary dinner (also via Stephanie Bassos) with Rick Bayless, Ben Caulfield, Paul Kahan, Bill Kim, Michael Kornick, Nick Lessins and Paul Virant—which also benefitted Share Our Strength.