Gourmet Chicago Volunteer Day 2 – better than the first day!

I didn’t think that today could top yesterday, but it did! I was a little less nervous about going since I knew what to expect from yesterday. I was thinking of going back to the Blue Moon beer tent to ask for their help and when I went to check in, I asked the person if I could just work at that tent and he said yes. When I got there, they had several more people than the day before, so I met up with the director of volunteers and he was telling people where to go. We got to one area and he asked who would like to help out at the Bon Appetit Live Cooking demonstration, I said “I would!”, but he picked 2 other girls and as we were walking to another area, one of the girls mentioned she wasn’t supposed to start working until 2 p.m. and it was 11:00 a.m. So I said, “My shift starts now!” So, I got to work with a great woman Denise and we headed over to the venue.

These were the cooking demos taking place

Basically, our jobs were to fill up the tent with people in time for the cooking shows. We were stationed right near 2 entrances, so I would just let people know who was cooking and ask them to come on in! I met a lot of great people doing that!

Before the event had even begun, I was standing in the tent when I glance over and here comes CAT CORA from Food TV!!! I immediately yell out “CAT!” and came out of the tent to ask if I could take a picture with her, and she said “Of course!” (How nice is that?!)

Me and Cat!!

The first live cooking demonstration was with Frank Brunacci from Sixteen Restaurant in the Trump Tower. He was really nice! He made a tortilla soup.

People were sampling out of this, so it's a little messy!
This is where people sat in the Bon Appetit Culinary stage

The next chefs were Rodelia Aglibot from Sunda New Asian and Todd Stein from a new restaurant opening in November in Chicago called The Florentine. That session was MC’d by Amanda Puck (Wolfgang Puck’s former sister in law). They cooked a pasta dish.

Amada Puck, Todd Stein and Rodelio Aglibot
Dish made at 2nd cooking demonstration

The third cooking demonstration was Jimmy Bannos Sr. and his son Jimmy Bannos Jr. Jimmy Sr. is known for his famous Heaven on Seven Restaurants. His son just opened a super successful and exciting new restaurant in Chicago called The Purple Pig. When they arrived at the tent, they entered the back part where they had help prepping things for their cooking demo. I mentioned to Denise that my boss Jim knows Mr. Bannons Sr. and I told her I am going to run back there and say Hi! So before it started, I went back and introduced myself and asked if I could get a picture with him and his son. They couldn’t have been nicer!!

Jimmy Bannos Jr, me and Jimmy Bannos Sr!!

More pictures to come! All in all it was a fabulous day, I couldn’t have asked for a better experience. I even got to meet Paulette Wolf the head of the Event Company in charge of putting the event together. She even came up to me a few times at the Bon Appetit Culinary stage to tell me I was doing a great job, so that was cool!

I’ll post more pictures and events I saw tomorrow!


  1. Deb says:

    Girl!!!! I am sorry I missed your call today. (Was out with Bree doing her driving practice!)

    But anyway, I am so jealous!!! Sounds like you had such a great time. I can’t believe you met Cat Cora. How cool. I am so glad you went!!!!

    Next year I am coming with ya!

  2. Jacky says:

    How excellent! Sounds like a great day. Love Cat Cora, glad to hear she was as nice in person. Love love love, The Purple Pig too! Very jealous, I was hoping to check this out this year. Never fit it in the schedule.

  3. Jessica says:

    How awesome! I am so jealous!

  4. Christina says:

    Oh wow, how awesome Jenn! Too cool that you got to meet Cat Cora! I think she’s my favorite on Iron Chef!

  5. lili says:

    WOW! I’m so happy you got to do and meet all these people. I can’t wait to see the rest of the pictures 😉

  6. Brittany says:

    How neat!

    Loved your doughnut muffins! Except I think I’m addicted 😀

  7. Roz says:

    Hi Jenn,
    LOVING the updates!!!! So glad it was a great event! (and you met Cat Cora??!!! COOL!!)

  8. Shelley B says:

    Great pictures – you are so cute, all excited over these chefs…I love it!

  9. Kerstin says:

    How cool – sounds like such a perfect way to spend the day! I want to check out The Purple Pig next time I’m in town – I just read about it in Bon Appetit or Food&Wine.

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