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‘Top Chef’ charity is top-shelf

Gail Simmons “Top Chef” (left) with host committee members Rich MelissGamble Chefs Charity Dinner. | Randy Belice PHOTOS

Gail Simmons of “Top Chef” (left) with host committee members Rich and Melissa Gamble at the Chefs Charity Dinner. | Randy Belice PHOTOS

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Updated: April 21, 2012 8:09AM

The folks of Common Threads and “Top Chef” judge Gail Simmons welcomed almost 150 guests March 11 to the Chefs Charity Dinner, an intimate foodie fund-raiser held at the James Hotel. Simmons — a longtime friend of Common Threads and its founder, chef Art Smith — signed copies of her memoir, Talking With My Mouth Full: My Life as a Professional Eater, during the VIP cocktail reception before partygoers sat down to a meal prepared by 14 of Chicago’s most notable chefs.

The evening’s host committee included Rich and Melissa Gamble, Sonya Jackson, Brook Jay and Margaret and Robert Rainone. Smith was not in attendance, so Simmons sat with a friend, Common Threads executive director Linda Novick O’Keefe, during the four-course family-style meal. The boisterous crowd enjoyed worldly dishes from Bill Kim (Urban Belly), Giuseppe Tentori (GT Fish & Oyster), recent “Top Chef” contestant Heather Terhune (Sable Kitchen & Bar) and Koren Grieveson (Avec).

A ticket to the gluttonous get-together began at $250 and in total, more than $70,000 was raised for the organization committed to educating children about healthy eating and food preparation.


Landmarks Illinois, the not-for-profit organization dedicated to preserving and protecting historically and architecturally significant properties across the state, honored the Rev. Jack Wall, Grace Barry and Abbott Laboratories at the Legendary Landmarks celebration, held last Wednesday night at the Four Seasons Hotel.

The soiree, co-chaired by Joseph M. Antunovich and 2009 award recipient Richard Driehaus, attracted more than 400 guests, including such notable names as Abbott CEO Miles White, WTTW-Channel 11’s resident architecture guru Geoffrey Baer, Ariel Investments’ Mellody Hobson and auctioneer Leslie Hindman. Partygoers began the evening with cocktails, followed by dinner and the awards program that annually gives prizes to those who have made long-standing contributions to the civic, corporate and cultural landscape of Chicago.

Tickets began at $500 and, in total, more than $440,000 was raised for the organization’s Preservation Grant Fund, which to date has provided assistance to gain landmark status or preserve more than 80 buildings in Chicago and across Illinois.

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