To celebrate 20 years of gathering the finest in Chicago’s culinary world under one roof for a great cause, it was only right to honor a man synonymous with Chicago restaurants, Richard Melman-Founder and Chairman of Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises. The ‘Platinum Affair’ 20th Anniversary of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation’s Grand Chefs Gala, hosted by The Food Network’s Jeff Mauro, took place Feb. 3 at Navy Pier’s Grand Ballroom.
Before guests sat down for the 3-course dinner themed, “An Evening at Le Francais,” conceptualized by chef Chris Pandel (The Bristol, Balena, Swift and Sons) as a tribute to the legendary, late chef Jean Banchet, they whet their appetites at food fest in Festival Hall where 35 top chefs including Fabio Vivani (Siena Tavern), Ryan Pfeiffer (Blackbird), Doug Psaltis (RPM Steak), Ryan Burns (The Blanchard), Mark Sabbe (Marchesa), Sarah Grueneberg (Monteverde) and more, served hors d’oeuvres ranging from meaty, cheesy to veggie. Though all these chefs are big deals and have their own major following, it seemed everyone wanted a piece of Monteverde’s Sarah Grueneberg including fellow restauranteur Alpana Singh who was quite eager to take a pic while guests were trying to sample the food.
Eataly doled out deliciously goey mozzarella, Mercadito’s shrimp tacos and bites from soon to open restaurant by chef Diana Davila, Mi Tocaya Antojeria, were just a few favorites. The Chicago Players band entertained guests as they made their way into the grand ballroom. Once dinner was served and the live auction, which saw some pretty awesome packages bid on for high sums, the awards portion of the evening began. Last year’s Chicago Classic awards recipients Gene & Georgetti’s Michelle Durpetti and dad Tony Durpetti presented Rich Melman, who was in attendance with his wife, with his award.
Michelle Durpetti, Rich Melman, Tony Durpetti and Jeff Mauro
Grand Chefs Gala’s platinum affair evening capped off with an afterparty Nightcap, inviting late night reveling gala guests and younger crowd of attendees to enjoy late night bites from Revival Hall, pastries, and specialty cocktails from mixologists from Three Dots and a Dash, El Che Bar, Broken Shaker, Bad Hunter to name a few.
The Grand Chefs Gala, co-chaired by Jim and Rose Kallas, raised $670,000 for the Greater Illinois Chapter of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, which works to find a cure for all people with cystic fibrosis.
Carolyn Pelissero, Megan Martin, Aaron Shirley and Samantha Berngard
Sarah and Jeff Mauro
Luis Pinedo and Michelle Pinedo
Joe Krothe and Heidi Krothe
photo credits: Galdones Photography; Caitlin Lisa Photography