Food brings people together. No matter what the reason, whether sitting at the table, standing in the kitchen, in a restaurant or for a cause, it is the glue that holds people together.
This past month, I have had the pleasure of participating in 4 different types of events all designed to raise money for amazing organizations. Some are medical and some are education focused but all took place over a meal. This post will share Kendall College and Fig & Olive’s events. You can read about the Jackson Chance Foundation Ping Pong Ball and the FLIGHT event next Tuesday.
- Kendall College Trust’s second annual Fried Chicken and Champagne Fest
- Fig and Olive’s Mediterranean menu in honor of the National Breast Cancer Foundation
- The Jackson Chance Foundation Ping Pong Ball
- Children’s Oncology Services, Inc., FLIGHT
When you think “fried chicken” what comes to mind? Summertime, picnics and comfort food! So when a cooking school is looking to expand their scholarship opportunities, they do what makes sense to them. Throw a “party” to raise funds by inviting Chefs to compete for prestigious awards by creating delicious fried chicken dishes for Chicago food lovers. Thus, the second annual Fried Chicken and Champagne fest that took place in October with all proceeds benefitting Kendall College Trust. The funds raised are given to students interested in the fields of premier culinary, hospitality and business.This event welcomed 12 award-winning chefs who were charged with coming up with the best recipes for this classic dish. There were three different awards given out:
- The Golden Hen best fried chicken – determined by a panel of food media/experts
- People’s Choice
- Best table décor
If you have dined out at any Chicago restaurants or simply follow the restaurant scene here, you may be familiar with these names of highly talented chefs:
Acadia: Ryan McCaskey
Boka: Lee Wolen
Frontier: Brian Jupiter
Farmhouse: Eric Mansavage
Honey Butter Fried Chicken: Cam Waron and Becca Waron
Leghorn: Jared Van Camp
Lillie’s Q/Dixie: Charlie McKenna
Parachute: Beverly Kim
Prime & Provisions: Joseph Rizza
Pub Royale: Nate Tano
Salero/Wood: Ashlee Aubin
Three Aces/Charlatan: Matt TroostWhile you might think there are only a few ways to make fried chicken, these chefs will show you otherwise. The creative use of ingredients, cultures and presentation showcased why these specific chefs were asked to participate in this event.
And of course, we need to discuss the more than 60 different types of Champagne donated by headlining sponsor Southern Glazer’s Wine & Spirits as well as a VIP Champagne Lounge from Pops for Champagne. Dry, sweet, blue (yes, blue!), rose, reserve and premium champagnes are so many bubbly reasons to try the extensive offerings.In the end, there had to be a winner – although honestly, they were all so inventive and delicious – we wish we could have given an award to everyone! Never-the-less, the Golden Hen goes to Chef Ryan McCaskey from Acadia for his creative approach to Indian butter chicken with cilantro, red onion, cabbage, lemon and garlic naan bread. This last item was a real twist on the bread aspect of fried chicken. Acadia also won the best table décor with the greenery on their table.
People’s Choice award was heard loud and clear no matter what table of guests we wandered too: Honey Butter Fried Chicken. That honey butter just put the chicken over the “fence”. Sometimes, simple is truly the best.
This casual food festival makes for a fun and very filling Saturday afternoon of dining at 12 restaurants without moving the car. More than anything though, you are helping aspiring students achieve their professional (and sometimes, personal) goals of attending this highly respected school by making scholarships available to well deserving students. For more information on Kendall Foundation, please visit their website.
In support of the National Breast Cancer Foundation, I had the opportunity to attend a private event at Fig & Olive Restaurant. If you are not familiar with this lovely environment, the design and ambience is that of the South of France, Italy and Spain combined.The restaurant’s focus is on finding and sharing olive oils used throughout each course. For this evening’s event, a Mediterranean and olive oil based menu created by Executive Chef Wilfrid Hocquet in collaboration with Celebrity Nutritionist Elissa Goodman was presented to guests. A set donation was determined for each pre-fixe menu ordered during the month.
Each dish was just delicious. Flavorful, colorful and good for you. Starting with three different types of olive oil:
and then on to the soup:
Carrot Ginger Soup – with turmeric, orange, cumin, served with kabocha squash tapenade on endive with pickled mushroom and pear
Quinoa Salad – red cabbage, roasted squash, pomegranate, orange segment, brussels sprout with a citrus dressing. So good!
Fennel Salad – fennel, arugula, baby kale, avocado, tomato, walnut, citrus and cilantro olive oil dressing
Riviera Salmon – braised endive, baby kale, cauliflower puree, olive and piquillo condimentPoached Pear in spiced orange with granola and micro basil
The whole evening was focused on raising funds for an important cause that included a silent auction with items for relaxation, dining, fashion and beauty.Guests enjoyed the pre-fixe menu associated with the Mediterranean Diet. The beauty of the restaurant and the opportunity to talk with Elissa Goodman on how food plays a key role in your health was both educational and fascinating. Everyone’s generosity helped to make the evening even more successful for the National Breast Cancer Foundation’s fundraising efforts. Such an important mission for all the women in your life. Thanks, Fig & Olive for your efforts!