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Cystic Fibrosis Foundation hosts 17th annual Grand Chefs Gala

Hannah Miller (from left) and Emma Nowacki both originally of Winnetka, Anastasia Harper of Oak Park and Sophie Miller of Winnetka | Lee A. Litas/for Sun-Times Media
Steve Dolinsky, food reporter for ABC 7 and trend columnist Lee A. Litas | Lee A. Litas/for Sun-Times Media
Linda Cada of Western Springs (left) and Kellene O’Connell of La Grange, featured honoree | Lee A. Litas/for Sun-Times Media
Elana Fisher of Deerfield (from left) with Kelsey Weil, Randell Golman, CF junior board founder and Julie Axelrad, all of Highland Park | Lee A. Litas/for Sun-Times Media
Cathy and Rick Hirschmann with Cidney and Jeff Golman of Winnetka, event co-chairmen | Lee A. Litas/for Sun-Times Media
Sweets from Leigh Omilinsky of Sofitel Hotel’s Cafe des Architectes, winner of the Jean Banchet award for pastry chef of the year | Lee A. Litas/for Sun-Times Media
Larry and Sylvia Margolies of Winnetka  | Lee A. Litas/for Sun-Times Media
Sonja and Ravi Baichwal of Evanston | Lee A. Litas/for Sun-Times Media
Amanda Zar of Chicago (from left), CFF development director with Joan Holden and Janet Bischoff, both of Winnetka | Lee A. Litas/for Sun-Times Media
Executive chef Armando Gonzales of Libertad restaurant in Skokie, presenting restaurant at the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation’s17th annual Grand Chefs Gala  | Lee A. Litas/for Sun-Times Media
Joe and Fay Manzi of Park Ridge, sponsor and board member | Lee A. Litas/for Sun-Times Media
Jack and Judy Glunz of Wilmette | Lee A. Litas/for Sun-Times Media

The Event: Over 900 persnickety foodies met their match at the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation’s 17th annual Grand Chefs Gala on January 31 at the Fairmont Hotel Chicago where 50 top chefs and pâtissiers plied the guests with gourmet nibbles. The Foundation’s top fundraiser brings in some $500,000 dollars each year, and 90 cents of every dollar goes directly to finding a cure for CF.

This year’s gala recognized the city’s culinary elite with the Jean Banchet Awards for Culinary Excellence in an Oscars-style awards ceremony. Local celebrity chefs included Louie Alexakis of Avli Estiatorio in Winnetka, Armando Gonzalez of Libertad in Skokie, and Bill Anderson of Vie in Western Springs.

Cause célèbre: Diagnosed with CF at 6-months, Randell Golman of Highland Park, founder of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation Junior Board gala adjunct, “Nightcap,” has been coming to this event for 15 years.

“All this money that is generated will help for research, for funding, for medicine and for a cure,” said Golman. Although her symptoms are under control, cystic fibrosis is not curable yet, a fact that her mother and event co-chairman, Cidney Golman of Winnetka, aims to remedy.

“We’re really going to cure cystic fibrosis. I do believe in that. We’re close,” said Golman.

A genetic disease, cystic fibrosis affects 30,000 children and adults in the United States. In 1955, children with CF usually did not live long enough to attend elementary school. Today, because of foundation-supported research and care, patients are living into their 30s, 40s and longer.

“The foundation has been an incredible asset in the lives of people with CF,” said Joan Holden of Winnetka whose daughter, Sophie, has CF. “It has given them hope that the money we raise will go towards research needed to find a cure for this devastating disease.”

Bottom line: The event raised $550,000 for CFF’s life-saving research.

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