Bon Appetite!! 17th Annual Grand Chefs Gala Benefiting Cystic Fibrosis Tomorrow, Jan. 31st at The Fairmont

image008The Cystic Fibrosis Foundation will host the 17th Annual Grand Chefs Gala on Friday, January 31 at Fairmont Chicago, Millennium Park, 200 N. Columbus Drive.  In an exciting, Oscars-style presentation, the Gala will recognize the city’s culinary elite with the Jean Banchet Awards for Culinary Excellence.  This year’s event will include a special tribute to Jean Banchet and his monumental contributions to the culinary world and the Chicago dining scene.

“Mr. Banchet flourished because he was able to translate haute cuisine into something an American audience could understand and relish,” said The New York Times, and the Chicago Tribune remembered Banchet as “Chicago’s first celebrity chef, a prodigiously talented cook and gregarious personality who almost single-handedly raised Chicago’s dining reputation from a steak-and-potatoes town to a serious restaurant city.”  The Chicago Sun-Times said that “Mr. Banchet’s perfectionism, decadent sauces, top-quality ingredients and inventive menus inspired other chefs who would go on to start — and star at — restaurants of their own.”

Since its debut in 2001, this prestigious honor is the only Chicago-based awards presentation that recognizes and rewards culinary originality and talent in the Chicagoland area.  Forty-four exceptional chefs, sommeliers, mixologists, and restaurants were nominated in an open, public forum and the winners will be selected in a closed ballot vote by their peers.

The 2013 Jean Banchet nominees are as follows:

Chef of the Year: Curtis Duffy (Grace), Carrie Nahabedian (NAHA), Paul Virant (Vie/Perennial Virant), Andrew Zimmerman (Sepia)

Pastry Chef of the Year: Lisa Bonjour (mk), Craig Harzewski (NAHA), Elissa Narow (Vie/Perennial Virant), Leigh Omilinsky (Cafe des Architectes)

Best Chef-de-Cuisine:  Ali Ratcliffe-Bauer (Brindille), Andres Padilla (Topolobampo), Sean Pharr (NoMI Kitchen), Nicholas Romero (Grace)

Rising Chef of the Year: Thai Dang (Embeya), Nicole Pederson (Found), Tom Van Lente (TWO), Lee Wolen (formerly of Lobby Restaurant at the Peninsula Chicago)

Rising Pastry Chef of the Year: Dana Cree (Blackbird), Sarah Mispagel (Nightwood), Thomas Raquel (Acadia), Bobby Schaffer (Grace)

Best Sommelier:  Valerie Cao (Grace), Chad Ellegood (NoMI Kitchen), Richard Hanauer (The Langham), Arthur Hon (Sepia)

Best Mixologist: Charles Joly (The Aviary), Paul McGee (Three Dots and a Dash), Danielle Pizzutillo (Embeya), Sergio Serna (The Drawing Room)

Best Restaurant Design: Balena, Boarding House, Brindille, Embeya

Best Restaurant Service: Balena, Grace, Nightwood, Sixteen

Best New Restaurant: Fat Rice, Found, Gather, Travelle, TWO

Restaurant of the Year: Acadia, Brindille, Embeya, Grace

Prior to the presentation of the Jean Banchet Awards, Chicago’s finest chefs, including Curtis Duffy, Giuseppe Tentori, and Jimmy Bannos will gather to personally prepare and present their signature dishes for the Grand Chefs Gala’s 750 guests.  Guests will have the opportunity to mingle with their favorite chefs and sample these specially prepared dishes.  The night will also feature high-energy live music, dancing, raffles and premium live and silent auction items.

The live auction will highlight unique travel and/or entertainment packages and exclusive dining experiences.   Two items that will be featured are:

Check Please! Dinner at Grace

Foodies will rejoice with this incredible night of exquisite dining and fantastic conversation!  You and a guest will join all the ladies of Check Please!  Amanda Puck, Alpana Singh and Catherine De Orio at the Two Michelin Star rated and award-wining Grace Restaurant.  Your dinner will feature an eight – twelve course Chef’s Tasting Menu with wine pairings.  With a dinner this fantastic, you may never ask for the check!

Restrictions: Subject to availability. Mutually agreed upon date.  Expires: January 31, 2015.

Lewis Black and Friends

For one night only, Lewis Black, Will Ferrell and some of their funniest friends are joining forces to add tomorrows for those affected by cystic fibrosis. The Cystic Fibrosis Foundation is proud to be the recipient of this unique comedy and variety show, hosted by some of the industry’s biggest names, on Monday, May 5, 2014 in lively New York City.

Multiple packages can be purchased but only 12 spots remain at the $5,000 level where attendees will enjoy an incredible evening that will feature a cocktail reception, followed by this once-in-a-lifetime performance at Jazz at Lincoln Center.  After the show, guests will enjoy a VIP dinner and an after-party at New York’s swanky Mandarin Oriental Hotel overlooking Central Park.  Also included in this amazing package is an overnight stay at the luxurious JW Marriott Essex House, located in Manhattan’s Columbus Circle (overnight stay valid on Monday, May 5, 2014).  Ideally located for shopping, sightseeing and fine dining, guests can easily walk to some of New York City’s most popular locations, including 5th Avenue, Carnegie Hall and the Theater District. The hotel is a short walk from our variety show venue as well as our dinner and after-party venue, the Mandarin Oriental New York

Restrictions: Airfare and transportation is the responsibility of the attendee.

In 2013, the Gala raised over $500,000 to support the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation and this year, the CFF is aiming even higher. Tickets and tables can be purchased by visiting the website at or calling the CF Foundation at 312.236.4491.  Tickets start at $100 for the Nightcap portion of the event (9:30pm – 12:00am) and $500 for the entire evening.

Cystic Fibrosis is a genetic disease affecting 30,000 children and adults in the United States.  The respiratory system and the digestive tract are both compromised by CF, making involuntary activities like breathing and eating extraordinarily difficult for these patients on a daily basis.  In 1955, children with CF usually did not live long enough to attend elementary school.  Today, because of Foundation-supported research and care, patients are living into their 30’s, 40’s and beyond.

For more information, including sponsorship opportunities, please visit the Foundation’s website or call (312) 236-4491.