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The Great Chefs Tasting Party 2014 
Annual event attracts a wide range of food enthusiasts to benefit a great cause
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   AFTER 22 years, the Great Chefs Tasting Party continues to be one of Chicago's most popular events, and the proceeds give a big boost to charity, allowing many people with disabilities to enjoy a new level of independence and lead a life without limits.
   This is the first year that the annual event has been held since United Cerebral Palsy Association of Greater Chicago and Seguin Services merged to better enrich the lives of those with disabilities. "UCP and Seguin have both been financially strong, innovative nonprofits with decades-long histories of accomplishment," said Paul Dulle, who served as UCP's president and CEO for more than 20 years and now serves as president of the newly created UCP Seguin Foundation. "This merger is a win-win for our agencies, for our supporters and, most importantly, for those we serve."
   Again, the event lived up to its enduring tradition. With more than 40 of the city's top chefs participating at the Sheraton Chicago Hotel & Towers, hundreds of supporters of UCP Seguin of Greater Chicago sampled a wide range of signature dishes from many of the city's top restaurants, including mouthwatering treats from ZED451, Shula’s Steak House, Prosecco Ristorante, Gibsons Bar and Steakhouse, Vanille Patisserie, RM Champagne Salon, Happ Inn Bar & Grill/Taco Nano, Carnivale, Southwater Kitchen, One North Kitchen & Bar, Wildfire, Roy’s Hawaiian Fusion Restaurant, Wood, Sunda New Asian, Acadia and Tito's.
For more information, go to www.ucpnet.org.
   The crowded ballroom––filled with music supplied by "DJ Ochs" (David Ochs)––was for three hours the scene of culinary excellence. Food enthusiasts had paid $125 (general admission) and $175 (reserved seating) to eat and drink to their hearts' content. In addition to dining on such tasty treats as jumbo lump crab, lobster dim sum, prime rib with creamed spinach, braised skirt steak and chocolate hazelnut parfait, the supporters also participated in a silent auction, bidding on such items as autographed Chicago Blackhawks memorabilia, an in-home wine-tasting for 20 people, a French pastry experience for four and weekend trips to San Francisco and San Diego. There was also a live auction conducted by renowned charity auctioneer Jim Miller and a raffle for a chance to win two main cabin round-trip airline tickets on American Airlines/American Eagle for travel in the continental United States, Canada, Bahamas, Bermuda and Mexico.
​   Although the food was the highlight at one of the city's most energized gatherings, the dedicated foodies had come in support of UCP Seguin, one of the largest health charities in America, with a mission "to advance the independence, productivity and full citizenship of people with disabilities through an affiliate network." All proceeds from the Great Chefs Tasting Party and silent auction will benefit people served by UCP Seguin. The organization offers programs and services for people of all ages to help those with disabilities achieve their potential and advance their independence through training and education, residential services, family support, employment and life-skills training. 
Food lovers gathered at the Sheraton Chicago Hotel & Towers to sample some delightful dishes at the annual Great Chefs Tasting Party. 
Mark Sparacino, chef and owner at Prosecco Ristorante, serves jumbo lump crab with diced red peppers, scallions, black truffles and sun-dried tomatoes. At the Carnivale booth (below, left to right), Angie Lage, sous chef Gustavo Ocampo, Gina Trombetti and Roxanne Marie highlight samples of Ropa Vieja, the restaurant's signature appetizer. 
The variety of delicacies included (above, left) barbecue pork sliders and turkey picadillo taco from The Happ Inn Bar & Grill and Taco Nano! restaurants; and (above) applewood smoked pork tenderloin salad from freestyle food + drink. At left, Anthony Rodriguez, president of Anthony's Own Fine Liqueur, prepares Bananas Foster for waiting supporters. 
"UCP and Seguin have both been financially strong, innovative nonprofits with decades-long histories of accomplishment."
                            –– Paul Dulle, president of UCP Seguin Foundation
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Items that supporters bid on during the silent auction included autographed Chicago Blackhawks and Chicago White Sox memorabilia, wine-tastings and several trips. "DJ Ochs" (David Ochs) played music (below) that boosted the energy level of an already-energized crowd, and popular auctioneer Jim Miller exhibited his unique skills during the live auction.