More than 1,100 guests, some decked out in their finest 1920s costumes, came together at Union Station to celebrate the AIDS Foundation of Chicago’s (AFC) 14th annual World of Chocolate gala on Thursday, Dec. 3.
The larger-than-life celebration really was the bee’s knees — offering guests the chance to try chocolate inspired creations from 27 of Chicago’s top chocolatiers, chefs and caterers. Held annually in commemoration of World AIDS Day, this year’s event raised $120,000 net in support of AFC’s continued care, policy, advocacy and education work.
Treats ranged from sweet bites to savory selections, and attendees also flocked to the speakeasy-inspired bars for some scrumptious chocolate cocktails. An expert panel of judges, including local celebrities and renowned Chicago-area chefs, judged the participating vendors in five categories:
People's Choice: InterContinental Chicago Magnificent Mile
Best Sweet: Kendall College of Culinary Arts
Best Savory: Chicago Athletic Association Hotel / Cindy's Rooftop
Best Libation: CH Distillery & Cocktail Bar
Best Small Business: Fred's at Barneys New York, Chicago
Best Large Business: The Peninsula Chicago
The judges’ panel included: A Cook’s Canvas food writer Veronica LePinske; Alliance Bakery owner and executive pastry chef Peter Rios; Chicago Chocolate Tours founder Valerie Beck; Just Like U Like It Catering founder Andrea Alexander; Tastemaker for Mariano’s Lorin Adolph; former Clinton Administration White House Social Secretary Laura Schwartz; and WLS (ABC)’s franklyHANK, Hank Manheim.
Throughout the evening, as molls and dolls tired of treats or dancing, they could wander over to a lavish punchboard or raffle in the hopes of winning one of three luxury vacations or a variety of other extravagant prizes.
“This event gives the community an opportunity to come together not only to celebrate our successes, but to refocus on the year ahead and the work we will do together to make HIV infections more and more rare,” said AFC President/CEO John Peller.
Funds raised through World of Chocolate support AFC’s work to end new HIV infections in Chicago and beyond. Proceeds from the event will:
Generous vendors participating in World of Chocolate included: the Brass Monkey, CH Distillery, Chicago Athletic Association Hotel, Chocolat Uzma Sharif, Dove Chocolate Discoveries, Fred's of Barneys New York Chicago, Hilton Chicago, Intercontinental Hotel, Italian Village Restaurants, Kendall College School of Culinary Arts, Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts, Life's Sweeter Side, Loews Chicago Hotel, Mercat a la Planxa, the Peninsula Chicago, Prasino LaGrange, Riques Cocina Mexicana, RL Restaurant, Sofitel Chicago Water Tower, Starbucks, Summer House Santa Monica, Uptown Brownie, Vanille Patisserie, Virgin Hotels Chicago, Walgreens, Wow Bao and ZED451.
This year’s World of Chocolate sponsors and media partners included:
A&U Magazine; Aetna Better Health of Illinois; AFR Furniture Rental & Event Furnishings; Barry-Callebaut; Bell Litho; BestGayChicago.com; BMO Harris Bank; Chicago Magazine; ChicagoPride.com; Food for Thought; Gilead; GRAB Magazine; Harmony, A WellCare Company; Humana; IlliniCare Health; Kehoe Designs; Lady Gregory's Irish Bar & Restaurant; Macy's; McDonald's; Michigan Avenue Magazine; MillerCoors; Northern Trust; Northwest Speech & Hearing Center, Ltd.; Orbitz; PepsiCo; Public Communications Inc.; Rise Interactive; Stoli; Walgreens; Whole Foods; Wilde Bar & Restaurant; Windy City Media Group; and Winebow.