When Rain Warnings Strike, Vital Bridges Revamps Plan for Outdoor Tasting Event

Though Chefs and the City, a fund-raiser for Vital Bridges, was initially slated to include tasting stations on a terrace, a rainy forecast forced all food inside.

Peninsula chef Curtis Duffy prepared semi-frozen coconut pudding

Photo: James Atkins

The ballroom, grand foyer, and terrace at the Peninsula Chicago provided plenty of space for food-station-hopping at Vital Bridges’ fifth annual Chefs and the City event on Friday night, even after a sudden shower sent guests scurrying inside. Vital Bridges’ chief business development officer, Chuck Benya, worked with development manager Karen Roark, president and C.E.O. Deborah Hinde, and a team of volunteers to plan the event, which raised funds to provide services and support to low-income locals living with HIV/AIDS.

The event, a roaming food and wine tasting, offered dishes from 22 prominent Chicago chefs. “The number of chefs is dictated by the amount of space,” said Hinde. “This is the same number of chefs as last year. We know that we cannot exceed 22 chefs and assure that everyone has adequate space [to] easily move around the stations.” Though eight chefs were initially going to serve their fare outdoors, the rainy weather forecast prompted Peninsula staffers to move all food stations inside when setup began at about three on Friday afternoon. “Luckily, we knew about the weather warnings early enough in the day that we didn't have to waste any time by setting up on the terrace,” said Hines. “In the end, I think most of the committee and staff felt that having all the chefs in one room was a benefit. The flow was great, and there was more room for people to sit on the terrace,” when the sprinkles had subsided.

Vital Bridges promoted the event through a media partnership with CS magazine and the PR services of honorary chair Amanda Puck, executive vice president of public relations at XA, The Experiential Agency. The charity also reached out to potential ticket buyers through its Facebook page and Web site. But Hinde gave most of the credit for ticket sales to her 40-member host committee, each of whom agreed to sell five tickets. Ultimately, the event drew approximately 350 guests and surpassed its revenue goal by bringing in more than $100,000.

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