As the headline reads…I'm officially a part of the Party Crasher's Anonymous or not so anonymous because of this update. Either way, I've been having a hell of a good time with this city
Now anyone who is close to me knows that I HATE dressing up. I'm strictly a jeans, t-shirt, and gym shoe kind of guy. However, I had to bring the tux out for the Chicago Urban League's Golden Fellowship Dinner. The civil rights organization celebrated its 49th year of giving back and supporting the community at the Hilton Chicago. The gala was well attended by more than 1,300 dignitaries, civic leaders, business heads, and philanthropists around the nation. Golden globe winning actress Angela Bassett hosted the evening along with a live performance by seven time Grammy award winning music artist Al Jarreau. Rev. Addie L. Wyatt was presented with this year's Bill Berry Award for her significant dedication to the labor movement, the civil rights movement and the women's rights movement. Rev. Wyatt was the first woman to become president of a local union and has walked alongside Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in major civil rights marches. And in a surprise award, Chicago Urban League's president Andrea L. Zopp also presented a Bill Berry Civil Rights Award to actress Cicely Tyson. Zopp commended Tyson on her positive portrayal of African American women in films and her too ability to break down barriers. Interestingly enough, in her speech Tyson remembered turning to the Urban League in her time of need before her acting career took off. Governor Patt Quinn even stood to share a few words of encouragement and to wish the Chicago Urban League congratulations. After the dinner, guests could party the night away at the Hilton for the official gala after party; it was especially funny seeing Bears coach Lovie Smith tearing up the dance floor to Beyonce and other pop stars, truly a Kodak moment. Newly minted Chicago Urban League President Andrea Zopp hosted a VIP party in her executive suite as well. I had to dart into Zopp's VIP party to wish the Chicago Urban League a huge congratulation for their continued success and support for African Americans and other minorities. Bottom line, over 1.76 million was raised that night.
I was so excited and honored to be asked to join the Joffrey Auxiliary Board. I hope they know what they're getting themselves into when they asked me to join! Good times ahead. Nico Rodriguez of the Joffrey Auxiliary Board hosted a Taste and Toast the Joffrey-tini in the Phoenix room of the Wit Hotel. I'm not going to lie, I was absolutely exhausted that night, but not too tired to pass up cocktails. However, everyone was so down-to-earth and lively that not only did I perk up, but I felt silly for being tired in the first place. The Joffrey-tini was the real star of the event. With fresh basil, house made strawberries with lemon grass syrup infused with tanqueray gin, vodka, and prosecco, the Joffrey-tini slid off my pallet with ease. $2 from the purchase of every Joffrey-tini goes to support the Joffrey, so be sure to order it the next time you're at the Wit. The Joffrey Auxiliary Board has an awesome 2011 calendar of events planned and I'm happy to be a part of it all. I'll be sure to keep you updated!
For this fall, I went for a Brook's Brothers look, haha; I'm reading this aloud and I sound like such a dork and what's even dorkier is that I'm serious! So imagine my surprise when I got invited to the Jobs For Youth Junior Board Fall kick-off event at Brook's Brothers, 209 South LaSalle. This is dangerous for me because not only are there cocktails but I'm in a store that has my exact fall look…and a percentage is going to charity, an added convincing factor. The kick-off was hosted by the Jobs For Youth Junior Board, Kenny Johnson, and DC Crenshaw. It was great to catch up with DC Crenshaw since he was one of my judges for the One Man Chicago competition. Jobs For Youth helps young men and women from low income families assimilate into the economic mainstream and is a free program for teens and young adults from 17 to 24. The event attracted young professionals who are socially aware and active. So, this was a great way to give back to a great charity and to my fall fashion look.
I have to admit to something and I hope you won't judge me. I kind of crashed the Esquire magazine party at Graham Elliot, 217 West Huron. Yes, I too crash parties from time to time. If it helps, one of my fellow One Man Chicago contestants, Philip Chang, invited me along for the ride. I met owner and top chef Graham Elliot at the party. Graham has to be one of the nicest guys I have ever met. He invited my friend Charlie and me to his kitchen to sample some menu items; Delish, delish, and more delish. And this was without him knowing the big girl that lives inside me. However, what makes Graham Elliot such a great place to dine is his staff. When I went to his kitchen, I didn't feel like I was in a restaurant's kitchen, it felt like friends doing thanksgiving. Graham's staff seems to admire and adore him, and not because he's such a great cook. I distinctively remember Graham saying how he prefers a laid back working environment and is very flexible with his staff. Wow, flexibility and great food at work. I'm in the wrong business! I hope Graham doesn't know I kind of crashed the party…well…maybe now he does.
However, I did not have to crash the Men's Book magazine fall issue launch party at the Fletcher Jones Audi car dealership, 1111 North Clark Street. Editor-in-chief Matt Lee played host as the city's jet set, business owners, and tastemakers all celebrated another successful issue of the Men's Book magazine. This fall's issue has a good looking Chris O'Donnell on the cover with a very telling interview with Mayor Daley as well. It was a little under a year ago when I was working with Matt on the spring issue of the Men's Book. So it's great to toast the magazine and Matt on another great issue. Photo is courtesy of Chris Free of Project Captured.
I hope you all have a happy holidays! Please save me leftovers or else I'm crashing yo momma's house!