Pilot Light Chefs: Back to School Block Party

Top Chicago Chefs Teach Importance of Cuisine**

pilot light chefs class005web

I just recently learned of the Pilot Light Chefs organization (PLC). While working to organize a Chicago Public Schools (CPS) community health expo for next year, I looked up some partners of CPS who are focused on health education initiatives.  

PLC was launched when four visionary chefs, Paul Kahan, Matthias Merges, Jason Hammel, and Ryan Poli, recruited chef peers to work with Disney II Magnet School in Old Irving Park to incubate the Pilot Light program.

PLC’s mission is to empower children to make healthy choices for themselves and their communities by developing skills, knowledge, and attitudes through the integration of culinary education within school standards, curricula and culture, and to develop and influence policy that will impact children’s long-term relationship with food.

Chefs are in the schools working with teachers to create a culinary curriculum which supplements what the children are learning in other areas of studies. This includes weaving the significance of food and cuisine into social studies, mathematics, science and history.

In October, I attended PLC’s Back to School Block Party held in elegant outdoor tents in the west loop near The Publication restaurant owned by Paul Kahan.  He was actually one of the first people to greet me at the event. I didn’t realize this until much later in the evening when he took the stage for the live auction portion of the evening.

PL The Chefs

David and I were some of the first people to arrive at the event. I took this photo of the chefs before everyone else began to arrive.

PL last checks

It was still daylight at the time but you could still see the lovely decor illuminated by the PLC blue.

PL Ready to Go

One of my favorite photos of the evening.

PL Mingling

Servers brought the food to us while more dessert items and drinks were inside for us to explore.

PL Pickled delight

Our first dish of the evening:  a wonderful pickled creation by Billy Sunday. One of my favorites.

PL The crowd grows

The event was picking up and David and I were trying wines and checking out auction items.

PL Super savory

This was one of the most savory and complex dishes of the evening: snail sausage.  The cup holds a pie shake made by taking an entire slice of pie and putting it in a blender along with ice cream. The crust gave it an odd, gritty texture.

PL Soup_from_Lillys_Queue

This delicious peanut soup was offered by Lillie’s Q.

PL Priscuitto_ans_black_walnut_vinagrette

Prosciutto with black walnut vinaigrette

PL Panacotta_with_quince_and_Graham_crumble

This deliciousness is panna cotta with quince and graham cracker crumble.

PL Noodle dish

David was enjoying this rich noodle dish with seaweed and egg.

FL Floyds gumball head beer

I just liked the look of this Gumball Head beer bottle.

PL Great decor

By this time, it was two hours into the event and David and I were enjoying watching the crowd while seated in chairs near the tent.


The Dj was great. He kept it going all night.

PL Dessert chefs

Ahh…the ladies of dessert.

PL Auction

The silent auction was about to begin and guests were rushing to check their standing on various bids. It was a great auction with private catered dinners by the popular chefs going for over $10,000 and dinners at the chef’s homes going for around the same.

It was wonderful to see such an appreciation of cuisine in a relaxed and elegant setting knowing that the funds raised will go towards educating more children not only in food and nutrition, but cuisine and it’s importance in everyday life. I look forward to attending next year.


Sherry iconThanks for sharing and liking my work. I am taking part in the National Blog Post Month event where I will blog everyday during the month of November. Be sure to subscribe to my blog via WordPress or email to get my updates.  You can also connect with me on twitter @sherry563, Linkedin and Facebook.

Categories: Education, Events, Social

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