Common Threads' World Fest 2011 Begins with Black Tie Dinner at Elysian

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The magnificent ballroom of the Elysian Hotel.

Last Sunday night was the opening night Black Tie Dinner to kick off Common Threads' Sixth Annual World Festival the following day at Soldier Field.  It was an intimate (100 guests), star-studded affair that included celebrity Chefs Marcus Samuelsson, Anita Lo, Michelle Bernstein, Nicole Pederson,Stephanie Prida and Ria's own Danny Grant.  The Elysian Ballroom is one of the most elegant in the city and on this night it was magical with the dimmed chandeliers, twinkling candles and sparkling crystal winking from every table.  American Idol's handsome Aussie singer/songwriter, Michael Johns, performed several songs and even had the black-tie clad crowd singing happily along.  The live auction, conducted by Jeff Brown, raised big money and included a Russian Celebrity Cruise with Chef Art Smith.....

an exciting Black Hawks package that was so coveted we sold two (thanks to co-chairs Anne and Danny Wirtz),  a Boka Group Restaurant package for 12 including the tough ticket to "Girl and the Goat" and finally, dynamite Montana ski package.  After the elegant, mouth-watering dinner, guests shared notes of this remarkable evening in the Elysian's stylish Bernard's bar mingling with the chefs.



World Fest 2011 attracted over 700 guests.

The following day, World Fest continued with a VIP Reception featuring a Small Threads fashion show with chic designs courtesy of Bloomingdale'sTracey Tarantino, of ZZazz Productions, produced the show along with Melissa Gamble.  Local designers also contributed by creating hats for the Small Threads' finale featuring healthy food ideas.  The  hats were then auctioned off with the highest bid going for designer John Schultz' fabulous hat which featured real fruits and veggies with hand-woven details.  Other participating designers included Jermikko, Miriam Cecilia Carlson, Jonnie Rettele (Nonnie Threads), Anastasia Chatzka, Horacio Nieto, Lauren Lein, Elda de la Rosa and Paul Sisti. After the reception, 700 guests enjoyed the delicious offerings of over 60 chefs as well as an exciting live auction which featured creative chefs' packages.  2010 World Cup entertainer, K'Naan, delivered a live performance and DJ Sye Young played hot, hot, hot dance music.

The festivites continued at The James Hotel where the dancing moved into high gear!  Co-founder Chef Art Smith's slim figure, clad all in white, danced the night away with fellow chefs, fans and friends.  I was honored to co-chair this year's event along with Anne and Danny Wirtz, Rama Dandamudi and Merita Tan and my darling hubby, Chuck. Congrats to Executive Director, Linda Novick O'Keefe, and her remarkable hard working staff for raising over $350,000 for this two day event supporting the great programs of Common Threads.  I hear they have already planned an incredibly new and unique event for next year so stay tuned!!!  (  (Photos by Caitlin Saville).

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