PLUS PRIVATE PEN PARTY; G & G'S BIG PREVIEW PARTY; BLESSED DAY FOR CHEF ART AND JESUS; EVERSIGHT ILLINOIS HONORS SUSAN; CSO LOVES SARAH; COLONEL PRITZKER CELEBRATES BACH HOUSE; RIVERS PRESENTS CASINO CHICAGO; RAFFLE'S INSPIRED ASCOT BALL; CHRIS LOVES SCOTT, RUDY LOVES ANDY, LAURA LOVES BROOKE, DAVID LOVES DAVID AND BOB LOVES NICKI; GORDON'S 80TH BD; NINA'S JUNE BD MONTH; TAYLOR & CO. SHINES ON "YOU & ME"; MOMOTARO--HOTSPOT FOR ROCK ROYALTY; EYES TO THE SKIES IN LISLE; MARCO'S ANNUAL WHITE PARTY AND SO MUCH MORE!
Gala goers were dressed to thrill for Jazz Enchantment, this year's fundraiser for the N'Digo Foundation, that was held at Symphony Center on Sunday, June 21. More than 900 hundred people attended this event that provides merit-based scholarship support for underprivileged students throughout Chicagoland as well as top shelf entertainment. On this night, eight promising young
students received scholarships with a surprise computer thrown in just to sweeten the deal! It was an honor for me to co-host the event with N'Digo Foundation founder Hermene Hartman, a one woman
dynamo. Over the course of her eclectic career, Hermene has distinguished herself as a media pioneer. She is the founder of Chicago's leading African American magapaper N'DIGO, was the vice chancellor of
the City Colleges of Chicago (the first woman to serve in this position for the nation's 2nd largest community college system) and has served in many other capacities of service. I'm very proud to call her a friend, but I digress. On this night, two of the biggest and best performers in the history of jazz appeared onstage and blew the doors off Symphony Center! Dianne Reeves and Gregory Porter performed together and
separately in this 90 minute show along with their dynamic and talented band members. Both of their vocal ranges were mind-blowing and the crowd showed their
appreciation with multiple standing ovations--the last bringing Porter back to the stage for a finale. Prior to the performance, a gala reception was held in Buntrock Hall that offered a delicious buffet and a chance to mix and mingle with friends. The presentation of the community honorees onstage came first and included personal videos where
each leader shared their views, hopes and dreams for Chicago and their respective organizations and businesses. They featured Dorri McWhorter (CEO of the Metropolitan YWCA), Hedy Ratner (founder
and president emeritus of the Women's Development Center), Cheryl Pearson-McNeil (SVP U.S. Strategic Community Alliances and Consumer Engagement at Nielsen Company), Howard Reich (Chicago Tribune music critic), Annie Haley (founder of the Jackie Robinson Little League along with her late husband Joseph), Reverend Johnny Miller (Pastor Mt. Vernon
Baptist Church) and Dr. Wayne Watson (president of Chicago State University who received a Lifetime Achievement Award). Student
scholarship winners were: Amari Shaw, Heaven Rice, Kennedy Williams, Lataesha Peterson, Rasean Cummins, Khila Jones, Kyler Sumter and Alecia Martin. Congrats to ALL! A rockin' after-party followed the performance! (To see my gala recap and other event picks on WCIU's "You & Me This
Morning", click here!
Under the category of "I wouldn't have believed it if I hadn't seen it", the private blow-out bash at The Peninsula Chicago on
June 24 had 950 guests in shock and awe! Upon entering the roped off lobby between red velvet drapes, the first thing you saw was sky-high performers swaying back and forth swathed in flowing bright red and yellow silks amid multi-colored lighted globes that created
a Cirque du Soleil type atmosphere. And that was only the beginning! The brilliant red, over-sized invite read: "The Terrace is Blooming, Secrets are Revealed". The party was a celebration of summer, art, culture and exclusive first
looks at the Pen's newly redesigned guest rooms, which were GORGEOUS! Everywhere you looked, there were food and flower laden serving stations offering every type of dish imaginable:
Peking duck, bison burgers, a whole pig, lobster corn dogs, hamburgers, lamb chops, foie gras, loaded seafood stations, loaded Chinese and Thai food stations, a rice bar, a chocolate bar, a macaroon bar, desserts, desserts and more desserts! Inside the Shanghai Terrace, dessert stations were inspired by Chicago neighborhoods with clever decor to match. It was
the most food I've ever seen at an event, other than at the Pen's last big bash, its 10th anniversary party! Downstairs, the gaiety continued with the entire Terrace bedecked in fun and frolic--there was even a ramp built for expert skateboarders who were swirling up and down the slopes to the beat of the band. Dramatically attired
performance artists, courtesy of ZZAZZ Productions, posed for pics with excited guests. The table decor was filled with whimsy too--spray-painted running shoes filled with
colorful flowers! We were on true sensory overload for this fabulous affair that celebrated the opening of the Terrace, summer and the Hotel's cool redesigned guest rooms. Seen on the scene: Chris Rock, Gloria Estefan,
Brooke Skinner Ricketts, Jim Smith, Sherren Leigh, Ken Norgan, Susan Gohl and Jonathon Grabill, Michael Kutza, Vivian Teng, Peggy and Bill Martay, Ali Galante, Joe Langley, Michael Caputo, Vincent Anzalone, Tom Kehoe, Jean and
Andy Antoniou with daughter Andrea, Sharyl Mackey, Vince Hart, Joe Schmidt, Tiffani Kim and Brad Griffith, Laura Schwartz, Tina and Jeff Weller, Rudy Segovia and Andy Sinclair, Joey and Tracey DiBuono, George Jewel, Nena Ivon, Jessa
and Ryan Baker, Bob Zec, Stanley Paul, Mamie Walton, Elizabeth Adams, Brian Adams, Myra and John Reilly, Rochelle Trotter, Mary Ann Rose and Heinz Kern, Tony Abruscato, Laura Wallace, Vonita
Reescer, Kathleen Casey, David Donnersberger and Claire Kenneally Donnersberger, Yvette and Rick Cusack and Sheila O'Grady to name a very few. Catering director Greg Hyder and Regional VP/GM of Peninsula Hotels Maria Zec sure know how to throw a party! And thanks to Kehoe Designs, Tracey Tarantino DiBuono (ZZAZZ Productions), local street artists, DJs and bands and the amazing staff at the Pen, this was a party no one
will soon forget! I see lots more awards in Greg's and the Pen's futures! Congrats and thanks to ALL for putting Chicago at the TOP of the party chart!
Sunday night's private preview party (for more than 1400 FOG's--Friends of Gene's) celebrated the soon-to-be-opened (July 6) and hotly anticipated Gene & Georgetti's Restaurant and event venue (The Estate) in
Rosemont at 9421 W. Higgins Road. The massive space, combined, is more than 18,000' ft. with the restaurant seating 250. (It will be open for lunch and dinner Monday thru Saturday with dinner service only on Sundays). Three private dining rooms can accommodate anywhere from 10 to 125 people. The accompanying
event space, The Estate, is 5,000' ft. and features a ballroom which will be available for large private events and can seat up to 300. ABC-7's Ron Magers
presided over the ribbon cutting. (There was also a "first steak" cutting!) On this night, a long Red Carpet with a glam model at the end draped in Gene & Georgetti's signature colors, red and gold, welcomed guests as they moved throughout the space. Inside the tent, Al Sofia and his fab group performed with a torch singer, Leslie, who was
created elegant decor for this special night that featured massives of red roses in strategic spots among other delightful visuals. The
mahogany bar hosted the original "Downtown Mahogany Club" gang on this night, Terry "Whitey" Pearson, Jamie Gabala and Captain Bob, to name a few, for specialty crafted cocktails created by Femme Du Coupe. Head chef Luiz Quiroz created all the delicious food for the evening with decadent
desserts provided by Ferrara Bakery. During the welcome speech, partner Rich Ciota broke down as he thanked his family who "have been so supportive" as did Tony Durpetti when he acknowledged and thanked his late father-in-law, Gene Michelotti, who co-founded G & G with Alfredo Federighi. It was such a touching night for this beautiful family led by daughter Michelle, who looked glam in
a custom ball-gown designed by Francesca Miranda for Dimitra's Bridal. (Mom Marion looked foxy in a jumpsuit also created by Francesca!) Congrats and thanks to the Durpettis for giving us yet another great restaurant experience to look forward to!
Among the nautical spendor of illuminated maps and compasses, all complimented by a splash of ocean
blues and Spex Optical's signature green, 200 guests gathered at the Peninsula Chicago on June 18th for the 17th Annual Eversight Illinois (formerly Illinois Eye-Bank) Gift of Sight Gala in support of sight restoration. Themed “A Visionary Voyage,” the
Gala honored Chicago and Naples, FL resident Susan Gohl as its 2015 Woman of Vision and Rush University Medical Center ophthalmologist Dr. Jonathan Rubenstein as the 2015 Gift of Sight honoree. It was a night of discovery
as guests learned about the more than 3,000 people Eversight Illinois’ helps each year, and experienced the journey transplant recipients take from blindness to renewed sight. Event co-chairs Dr. David
Donnersberger and Eileen Howard-Weinberg welcomed guests and introduced Eversight Executive Director Diane Hollingsworth and special guest speaker Angelina Bates, a cornea transplant recipient. Last year’s Woman of Vision honoree Sherrill Bodine described
the extraordinary philanthropic efforts of honoree Susan Gohl and proudly presented her with this year’s award. Dr. Charles Bouchard introduced his colleague and friend Dr. Jonathan Rubenstein and awarded him his honor. Dr. Rubenstein was fortunate to have one of his many patients in attendance, Angelina Bates, who spoke about the life changing impact of her cornea
transplant at the age of 13. The event included luxurious live auction items, and featured an exclusive 10 day cruise package to anywhere in the world and a day cruise on the 107 foot Susanna Bella custom yacht. The elegant Spex candy
bar was a popular post-dinner treat while the Stanley Paul Orchestra took guests into the night. Partygoers included past honorees Jean Antoniou, Sherrill Bodine, Dr. Charles Bouchard, Dr. Randy Epstein, Dr. Robert Feder, Gregory Hyder, John and Myra Reilly, Mary Ann Rose and Heinz Kern, Dr. Joel Sugar and Mamie Walton. (Also, huge congrats to Spex Optical on being named "Best Eyewear 2015" by a Chicago Reader poll for the SECOND YEAR!!! Woot! Woot!)
The League of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra Association (CSOA) presented its 26th annual Corporate Night Benefit on June 16 with its annual fundraiser that invites members of the Chicago’s corporate community to support the CSO and its
diverse programs. This year’s special guest artist was Grammy Award-winning singer-songwriter Sarah McLachlan who performed with members of the CSO, led by conductor Sean O’Loughlin. The concert was attended by more than 2,300 patrons
including 200 Chicago area music teachers and students, whose admission was underwritten by Corporate Night sponsors. Approximately 600 corporate guests from nearly 60 of the CSO’s corporate partners
were welcomed to Symphony Center with live musical entertainment and cocktails at 5 pm. The evening continued with dinner at 6 pm in historic Grainger Ballroom, The Thomas Club
(with its dramatic views of Michigan Avenue) and Buntrock Hall, as well as Tesori restaurant. A New Leaf provided elegant floral design and décor for the event including low centerpieces of white, fuchsia and coral peonies with tall arrangements of curly willow and fuchsia peonies. The evening’s menu, created by Blue Plate Catering, included a
mixed green salad with avocado and citrus fruits, a beef filet entrée and a blueberry spectrum bomb. Following dinner, guests joined concertgoers in Orchestra Hall for the evening’s program that opened with O’Loughlin’s own orchestral fanfare, Symphoria. The program continued with a full set of McLachlan’s chart-topping hits, some featuring her at the keyboard, arranged by O’Loughlin. Congrats to the CSO on a wonderful night of fundraising, over $1
million! (Photos by Bob Carl)
Frank Lloyd Wright’s iconic Emil Bach House (7415 N. Sheridan Road) is celebrating 100 years! The momentous event was marked by an anniversary
party and open house on June 6. It was a special afternoon of tours, refreshments, music (Bach, of course) and the unveiling of a gold and silver commemorative Emil Bach House coin. The State of Illinois has also chosen to honor Emil Bach’s 100th anniversary and will present Proclamations
to both the Frank Lloyd Trust and Tawani Enterprises during this noteworthy occasion. Last year the house was opened to allow design aficionados and visitors an opportunity to experience the style of the celebrated architect. The private residence currently serves as a luxury vacation rental and event space and stands to be one of only a handful of Wright homes available for overnight guests. Originally built in 1915, the Bach House, unlike many other Wright
properties, sits on a small city lot along a busy urban setting. The shape of the structure gives it dynamic qualities with the house being one of a short series of cubic, geometric, slab-roofed homes designed in the early twentieth century. The Bach House was designated a Chicago Landmark on September 28, 1977, and entered into the National Register of Historic Places on January 23, 1979.
The Cystic Fibrosis Foundation (CFF) hosted its 11th annual Casino Chicago presented by Rivers Casino that attracted poker enthusiasts and amateur gamers alike to the Zurich Ballroom of the Swissotel recently. Over 700 guests tried their luck by participating in the Texas hold ‘em poker
tournament for the chance to win a seat at the World Series of Poker (WSOP), or in casino gaming including blackjack, craps, or roulette. Congratulations to Chicagoan Jane Hahn, the skilled winner of this year’s poker
tournament, who is being rewarded with either an all-expensive paid to Las Vegas to play in the WSOP or an exciting vacation of her choice. For gaming novices, Rivers Casino, presenting sponsor of Casino Chicago, hosted practice tables on craps and roulette at the
beginning of the benefit, generously lending their employees’ time and expertise. Guests indulged in cocktails, food stations, DJ entertainment and an extensive list of live and silent auction items throughout the evening. “This was our best ever Casino Chicago benefit in the eleven years I’ve been
co-chairing”, said Mike Balkin, who has co-chaired the event along with Chris Walsh and Dan Roesch since its inception in 2004. “We are thrilled by the number of people
who came out to support us this year." Notable guests included legendary poker player and author Annie Duke, David Patent (Rush Street Gaming), Michael St. Pierre (Rivers Casino), Alex Paris (Barrington Research), and Dean Dussias (Sonnets Academy). More than $400,000 was raised during Casino Chicago to support life-changing
cystic fibrosis research and improved care for those battling the disease.
The English-Speaking Union held its annual Ascot Ball on June 13 at the Casino, a private club in Chicago, with the theme An Evening at the Raffles Hotel. A doorman,
dressed in Raffles Hotel attire, greeted guests as they arrived for the cocktail reception that served traditional Singapore Slings. A bagpiper led the gala-goers into dinner where the décor was inspired by the grandeur of the British
Empire. Palm fronds with fuchsia orchids served as centerpieces throughout the elegant space. A toast to the Queen and a toast to the United States brought the guests to their feet with a final
toast to Judy Bross, who will chair the 95th Anniversary Committee of the ESU and was the evening's honoree. This chic party capped off the night with the announcement that the Hawks won which drew wild applause from the crowd of nearly 200. Notable guests
included Martin Whalley (Deputy Consul General of Great Britain), Judy and John Bross, Liz and Jeff Sharp, Janet and Rodger Owen, Mary and Allen Carter, Carrie and Duncan Healy, Elizabeth and Mark Dziersk, Amanda and George Sargent, Lori Lennon and Donald Lynch, Anida "Cookie" Cohen, Laura and Loren Ekstrom and Barbara and Robert
Bond. Priscilla Barlow and Jetta Boschen served as co-chairs for this event that raised over $25K to support the ESU's mission to celebrate English as a shared language and to foster global understanding and goodwill by providing educational and cultural
opportunities for students, educators and members.
LOVE is in the air! I want to congratulate several friends of mine who recently took the "leap"! First up, David Brandt and David Granados were wed in NY on June 19!
Brandt, formerly catering director of the Palmer House, has a great new job and a brand new life in the Big Apple! Chris Walsh and his new husband Scott Ferguson were married on May 30 and spent their honeymoon celebrating in Hawaii. WCIU's "You & Me This Morning" producer Rudy Segovia married his longtime love Andy Sinclair on June 5th and honeymooned in Paris and London! Chicago Cub's co-owner Laura Ricketts married her ladylove, Brooke Skinner (head of Twitter brand strategy, Central Region), in a lavish affair
at their lakefront home on June 6. The wedding was officiated by Lambda Legal Midwest director Jim Bennett. Congrats to ALL!!
AND, on June 27, beloved couple Bob Fioretti (former mayoral candidate and 2nd Ward Alderman) and Nicki Pecori tied the knot before family and friends in a ceremony presided over by Illinois
Supreme Court Justice Anne Burke in the Fioretti's magical backyard garden. Nicki's mom and dad walked her down the aisle and her two darling nephews Antek (age 8) and Niki (age 6) served as ring bearers. The bride wore her beloved Grandmother Pecori's pearl necklace and bracelet and an elegant creme lace cocktail dress
cut down the back. A love-filled reception followed at one of the couple's favorite restaurants (where they were engaged last fall), Rosebud on Taylor. It also represented their shared Italian heritage. A poem inscribed on the exquisite multi-tiered, strawberry-filled wedding cake read: True love is a sacred flame
that burns eternally and none can dim its special glow or change its density. True love speaks in tender tones and hears with gentle ear. True love gives with open heart and makes no harsh demands. It neither rules nor binds, but
holds with gentle hands the hearts that it entwines. True love is a sacred flame that burns eternally." Their sweet first dance, with music by the Bisceglia Brothers Band, can be seen here. Congrats to these two lovebirds and may your flame burn brightly and happily together forever!
On this same night, Nicki's handsome father Claudio Pecori, reminded me of one of his upcoming events for the Italian American Society, of which he's a longtime, dedicated member. The organization's 46th annual National Italian Open Golf Outing, in conjunction with the National Italian American Sports Hall of Fame, will be held at Edgewood Country Club in Auburn, IL on Monday, July 27. The $175 entry fee includes 18 holes of golf, cart, lunch, refreshments, gourmet dinner with wine and The Tony
Spavone Show at the President Abraham Lincoln Hotel & Convention Center in Springfield, IL. If you're a golf nut and looking for a lot of bang for your buck, this is the event for YOU!
And now for some fun birthday news! On Friday, June 12, Nina Mariano celebrated a big birthday at Gene & Georgetti's with friends. Her real
birthday is June 19, but she has a LOT of friends so her parties lasted throughout June! Happy birthday Neens, I know you were surrounded with love for each and every celebration!
Another former Chicagoan, who many of you remember from Gordon's Restaurant, Gordon Sinclair, celebrated his 80th in town at the Ivy Room with friends. According to his longtime pal, Michael Kutza, the event was "classy, stylish and elegant." Awwwww,
we miss you here Gordon! Happy belated birthday!
What a thrill it was for me to return as co-host for my favorite TV chat fest, WCIU's "You & Me This Morning", with Jeanne Sparrow on June 22! I had a blast, as always, and also shared a few of my top events, see clip here! The following day I returned for a segment with event design
If you're looking for a family-friendly event for July 4th, the Eyes to the Skies Hot Air Balloon Fest in Lisle, IL (28 miles west of here) has it ALL! Enjoy hot air (tethered) balloon rides, an old-fashioned carnival with 45 food vendors,
an arts and crafts fair, a loaded kids' corner and live music on two stages (20 acts including 10,000 Maniacs and country music duo, The Swon Brothers). Nightly fireworks at 9:45 pm and a portion of the proceeds will benefit local charities. For more info, click here!
Chicago Gateway Green will host its 10th annual "Texas Hold 'Em Gaming for Green Poker Tournament and Casino Night" fundraiser on Thursday, July 16, at Galleria Marchetti. All proceeds will benefit the organization's Tree Partnership Program that transforms vacant land into tree-filled green spaces through large-scale volunteer tree plantings. For more info, click here!
On Friday, July 24, beloved man-about-town/entrepreneur Marco Foster will host his 5th annual White Party to benefit One Hope United. The evening at Untitled (111 W. Kinzie) will include top-shelf food and drink, music, creative performances and "sizzling
summertime fashion"! Hope to see you at this always-fun, loaded-with-beautiful-people party! For tickets and more info, click here!
Chicago has always been a magnet for celebrities, but it seems to me we are ramping up our activities
lately for sure! Seen at Boka Restaurant Group's Momotaro last week was none other than Mick Jagger and Ronnie Wood and now, this last Saturday, Bono and The Edge dined there, too! Momotaro is THE hotspot for rock royalty! Congrats to Kevin Boehm and Rob Katz on their great dining spots!
Congrats to the Supreme Court for declaring gay marriage to be legal now in all 50 states! This was a long time in coming and caused a lot of people to live their lives in frustration and turmoil including several friends of mine who now feel vindicated. I think anyone who is in love should be allowed to marry, regardless of their gender, and am so happy for
this decision! There was much to celebrate at the Pride Parade this year for sure! #LOVEWINS
And thanks so much to the Alliance for Women in Media's Shanita Akintonde for presenting me with my beautiful Media Maven Hall of Femme trophy! It's beautiful and I am so very grateful and honored!
Chuck and I lost our best friend on June 25. We met Paul Gonzalez shortly after we bought our house in Old Town in 1992. After interviewing an exhaustive number of designers, I was ready to give up
and try it all myself and then he walked in. From the moment we met, we were best friends for life. His joy was infectious, his charm was unlimited and his
eye was unerring. He taught me more about life and interior design than I could ever have imagined and his fans were legion across the globe. Anyone who ever met him will have a hole in their heart from his passing. RIP dear Paul--you were a joy in all our lives.
On Tuesday, June 30, history was made when beloved Chef Art Smith and husband Jesus Salgueiro became the first same sex couple to have their four beautiful children baptized into the Catholic faith at Holy Name Cathedral. Monsignor Dan Mayall presided over a love-filled ceremony that included The Chicago Children's Choir Alum singing gospel music. Each of the four children-- Brando Arthur, Angel Jesus, Zumy Iris and Zuky Francis Smith-Salgueiro received engraved plaques with apostolic blessings from Pope Francis! A reception followed at Table 52 for family and friends. Congrats with love!
I hope you have fabulous July 4th plans filled with BBQs, fun with friends and family and good health! And remember, if you would like to subscribe to my blog, please click here! (My list is completely spam free and never sold.)
Love, as always,
P.S. And, as always, something to make you smile! :-)