Chicago's Top Chefs Benefit

Experience Chicago's best restaurants and meet our city's legendary chefs at TOQUE: An Evening with Chicago's Culinary Masters, a benefit for Children's Oncology Services, Inc. (COSI) on, Thursday, September 11. The event named after a toque, a tall, pleated white hat worn by chefs, will start at 6pm at the Chicago Historical Society. Guests will be able to sample the specialties of 13 of the city's top chefs and to take part in a live auction. This year's event is emceed by Lin Brehmer from WXRT-FM; Michael Kornick of MK Restaurant ( returning as chef coordinator of the event.

"Proceeds from events like TOQUE make it possible to give children with pediatric cancer a chance to be kids through our many programs such as One Step At A Time Camp," said Jacob Drescher, Executive Director of Children's Oncology Services, Inc. "We're thankful for Chicago's culinary community coming together to benefit pediatric cancer patients and survivors."

Participating chefs include:

  • Michael Kornick, owner of MK Restaurant
  • John Caputo, executive chef/owner of A Mano
  • Michael Shrader, executive chef of N9NE Steakhouse
  • Tim Dahl, pastry chef of Blackbird and Avec
  • Erick Simmons and Amy Sampson, executive and pastry chefs of MK Restaurant
  • Jason Hammel and Amalea Tshilds, owners of Lula Café
  • Jonathan Fox, chef/owner of La Madia
  • Shawn McClain, executive chef/partner of Spring, Green Zebra and Custom House
  • Elissa Narow, executive pastry chef of Spring, Green Zebra and Custom House
  • Mindy Segal, chef/owner of Hot Chocolate
  • Chris Opper, executive chef of Food For Thought
  • Guiseppe Tentori, executive chef/partner of BOKA
  • Dean Zanella, executive chef of 312 Chicago
  • Live auction items include:

    You, Vegas & "Charlie Hustle"

    Experience Vegas in style with two nights at the Palms Fantasy Tower. Make it a once-in-a-lifetime experience with a spirited dinner with Pete Rose and Chef Michael Kornick at N9NE Steakhouse. Listen to the wildest stories of baseball from "The Hit King" and finish the night at the Playboy Club and Moonbar (Pete will also send you home with signed memorabilia). Airfare included, weekends excluded, date to be mutually agreed upon by all parties.

    Diamonds Are a Girl's Best Friend!

    Custom design a piece of jewelry of your choice from the exclusive Manny B & Co.. This Michigan Avenue salon features exquisite, one-of-a-kind pieces embellished with diamonds, rubies, emeralds, sapphires and other precious gems. You are sure to dazzle with a $10,000 spending limit!

    Holy Cow!

    Calling all Cubs fans! Be the fan you know you can be watching the game from Ron Santo's four box seats. Come two hours early to the field for batting practice and to meet the players. If that's not enough, spend time in the broadcast booth with Ron Santo and Pat Hughes during the game. Regular 2008 or 2009 season. St. Louis and White Sox series excluded, date to be mutually agreed upon by both parties.

    Ladies' Escape

    Treat yourself and 24 of your friends to an evening of beauty and relaxation at Chicago's luxurious Elizabeth Arden Red Door Spa. Hors d' Oeuvres and refreshments will be served while you and your guests relax and enjoy two spa services. You and your guests receive the choice of an Express Massage or Express Facial and the choice of a Warm Cream Manicure or Haircut & Style. Party lasts two hours, dates and times are based on availability and must be requested one month prior to party date. Spa Party available Tuesday thru Thursday evenings only. Certificate expires March 31, 2009 with a blackout period from November 21, 2008 to January 3, 2009.


    Be the envy of your friends with FOUR impossible to get tickets to a taping of The Oprah Show. After the taping, you will enjoy lunch at N9NE Steakhouse where chef Michael Shrader will choose your menu with wine pairings. Date to be mutually agreed upon and subject to Oprah taping schedule.

    Thursday, September 11
    6:00 PM Cocktails, Silent Auction and Featured Chef Stations
    7:15 PM Dinner & Live Auction Begins

    Chicago History Museum
    1601 North Clark Street

    For tickets or more information, visit

    About Children's Oncology Services, Inc. (COSI)

    Children's Oncology Services, Inc. (COSI) is a non-profit charitable organization dedicated to improving the quality of life of children and adolescents diagnosed with cancer. Through the One Step at a Time programs, COSI offers camp experiences and educational programs throughout the year that allow children with cancer to just be kids. Founded on the principle of volunteerism, all programs are run by counselors, medical staff and administrators who generously donate their time and services. Tuition for all One Step At A Time programs is based on a family's own assessment of their ability to pay and no one is ever turned away. Tuition is set at a fraction of the actual cost of camp and is often partially or completely waived. For more information, please visit

    White Gazpacho Soup, Tuna Tatar and Bison steak are among the special dishes to be sampled at TOQUE.

    MK Executive Chef Erick Simmons shares the recipes:


    1 Lb Green seedless grapes hand crushed
    ¾ Lb Seedless cucumber "no skin, no seeds"
    1.5 Ounces Ciabatta. Toasted, then rubbed with extra virgin olive oil. "Chop into segments"
    2 ounces whole blanched almonds
    ¾ Ounces rice vinegar
    ¼ Red onion "Chopped"
    1 Clove garlic "peeled and chopped"
    1.5 ounces of extra virgin olive oil

    Crush the grapes in your hands. Add everything together in a large mixing bowl except for the olive oil. Let all of the ingredients marinate for one hour. After the mix has set, slowly blend all of the items into and food processor; drizzle the olive oil over and water into the food processor with the ingredients until you reach the desired thickness. Season with salt and pepper.

    Tuna Tartar (Serves Four)

    16 ounces - Tuna loins fine diced 1 large - Fresh celery root
    ¼ cup - Crème Fraiche
    1tsp - Dijon, vilux mustard
    2 ounces - Iliada extra virgin olive oil
    ½ cup - Kalamata extra large olives
    ¼ cup - Capers
    6 pieces - Black Anchovy
    1 - Red bell pepper
    Pinch - fresh chives
    1 - Lemon

    Celery root remoulade

    Clean the tough outer skin of the celery root, and then chop into one inch pieces. Place the celery root, mustard, cream fraiche and juice of half a lemon into a food processor and pulse fine.

    Olive relish

    Remove the pits from the kalamata olives and chop them into small pieces, then place in a bowl. Cut the ends of the bell pepper and remove the seeds, then dice and add to the olives. Chop the black anchovy, strain the capers and add both to the mixture. Drizzle in olive oil and mix gently until loose.

    Tuna Tartar

    Place diced tuna in a separate bowl. Mix with one tablespoon of olive oil, a splash of lemon juice, and 2 teaspoons of chives, salt and pepper to taste.


    Place a circular ring mold on one of four plates and add the seasoned tuna until it fills three quarters. Fill the rest of the mold with Celery root remoulade. Place a small amount of pressure to the ingredients and lift off the mold. Place the olive relish around the place and add fresh herbs to the top.

    Bison Steaks (Serves Four)

    32 oz. boneless bison rib eye, cut into four 8oz steaks
    1 lb. - Cleaned fingerling potatoes
    1 lb. - Sautéed Spinach
    1 lb. - Sautéed hen of the woods mushrooms
    8 oz. - Red wine reduced with honey
    4 tsp. - Fresh Chives
    2 oz. - Fresh ground black pepper
    3 qrts. - Water
    1 oz. - Thyme
    1 - Clove sliced garlic
    1 - Diced Shallots
    ¼ lb. - Butter


    Place the fingerling potatoes in a pot with thyme, sliced garlic, water and salt. Poach the potatoes until the potatoes are soft enough to mash. Strain the liquid form the pit and mash the potatoes are completely broken down but still have large chunks remaining. Fold in two ounces of butter and add chives.


    Place the hen of the woods mushrooms into a hot sauté pan containing 2oz of olive oil. Reduce the heat to medium and stir occasionally until mushrooms soften. Add diced shallots, cook until aromatic and soft, add two tablespoons of water, and add spinach, season with salt and pepper.


    Preheat the grill. Cote the steak with olive oil, salt and fresh cracked pepper. Grill bison over open flame for five minutes on both sides for five minutes to reach medium rare.


    Divide the potatoes among four warm dinner plates. Place the mushrooms and spinach on top of the potatoes. Slice the bison portions and fan across the top.

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