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Chefs' Auction raises record $30,000

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Chefs' Auction raises record $30,000

Wednesday, March 1, 2006

By Eloise Marie Valadez

On the Town


Some of the Southland's finest cooks lent their talents for the sixth annual Chefs' Auction Feb. 23 at the Orland Chateau in Orland Park.

The event, featuring 12 restaurants, drew more than 300 people for an evening of feasting and entertainment.

"This event has grown during the last six years. It's continuing to bring people together for a cause that has touched so many," said LeeAnn Fisk, program supervisor for the Orland Park Recreation and Parks Department.

Fisk said proceeds from the auction are donated every year to the American Cancer Society's breast cancer research program.

This year, a record $30,000 was raised for the program.

At the event, guests visited food stations to test dishes such as blackened tilapia and carved tenderloin from 94 West in Orland Park; Cajun pecan stuffed chicken and bananas foster pudding from Flavor Restaurant in Flossmoor, and asparagus salad and bruschetta Romano from Francesca's Vicinato in Palos Park.

In addition to the food, a silent auction, featuring various gifts, and a live auction of restaurant packages, were among highlights.

Fisk said they added a new artistic aspect to the auction this year.

The "You Are What You Eat" program featured six artists from the McCord House and Gallery in Palos Park who painted pictures on site to correspond with various restaurants. The paintings were then auctioned with individual packages.

Orland Park Mayor Dan McLaughlin played the role of auctioneer, presenting the live auction items.

That evening, artist Liz Wall, of Palos Park, painted a tropical scene to depict the Canoe Club's theme.

Wall said she was happy to participate.

"It's always fun to be able to help out other organizations," she said.

For John Howard, of Crestwood, who painted a picture for Coopers Hawk Winery and Restaurant, it was an honor to be involved in the auction.

"This is a great group and a great cause," Howard said.

Artist Kathleen Newman, of Palos Park, said she didn't hesitate to lend a hand either.

"The Cancer Society is important to me. We've had a lot of loss in our family from cancer," she said.

Newman was in charge of painting a picture for Flavor Restaurant, which took on a Caribbean theme.

As McLaughlin welcomed guests to the event, he told the crowd he was thankful for their support.

"Tonight means a little more to me," McLaughlin said.

"Five weeks after last year's event, we found out my wife had lung cancer. And then we found out that my cousin had cancer," he said.

"I have two family members who are survivors, so this means a lot," McLaughlin said.

Patricia Morley, director of regional resource development for Governors State University in University Park, attended the auction with her friends Kathy Van Etten, of Chicago's Beverly community, and Diane Ryan, of Chicago's Mount Greenwood community.

"They're helping me celebrate being 10 years cancer-free," Morley said.

Morley said it was a great community gathering.

"Besides it being a fun event, the money is going to an important organization," Morley said.

Prior to the live auction, guests had the opportunity to hear American Cancer Society volunteer and patient Terry Belcher tell her story.

Belcher, who originally was diagnosed with breast cancer in February 2004, had a total mastectomy, but last year learned the cancer had recurred in her lungs.

She had been undergoing treatment successfully for the lung cancer and just last week found out cancer had returned to her breast once again.

"But, I know I'm going to be OK. This is a wonderful support group. The organization is No. 1 to me," Belcher said.

In addition to the program and auction, guests were entertained by the Ann Stewart Jazz Trio.

Among the record-breaking packages auctioned off that evening were the Canoe Club's Cross Town Package, featuring baseball tickets, dinner and a limo ride, for $3,600, and Canoe Club's dinner, limo and "Wicked" tickets for $3,000.

Among restaurants that participated in the event were Buca di Beppo, Fox's, Oliverio's Italian Chop House, Palermo's of Orland Park, Red Lobster and Ruffled Feathers.

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