By Jenny Berg Posted February 2, 2011, 1:28 PM EST
CHICAGO The Fairmont Hotels and Resorts' Grand Chefs Gala and Jean Banchet Awards for Culinary Excellence took place at the hotel on Friday night. The event benefited the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. While the black-tie function stuck to some elements from previous years—for example, a cocktail hour offering tasting stations from dozens of local restaurants—“we made many changes for this year's gala,” said foundation associate executive director Amy Patterson.
Among the shake-ups was a new after-party. After the award presentation and three-course dinner, the party offered a live band, multiple dessert stations, and drinks stirred up by mixologists from seven area bars, including Sable, Violet Hour, and Gilt Bar.
The after-party was intended to draw a younger set of attendees. “We marketed the event to a younger crowd that wouldn't necessarily spend [the gala's full ticket price of] $400,” said Patterson. “But for $60 they could come and check out the scene.” To reach their target demo, organizers looked to social media: For the first time this year, the gala got its own Facebook page and Twitter account.
Ultimately, the event drew 750 guests—as compared with last year's 650—and raised $500,000.