Review: Spring Flours 2010 Annual Benefit
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May 15 2010

Review: Spring Flours 2010 Annual Benefit

Last night, May 14th, I had the wonderful opportunity to attend the 10th annual Spring Flours Benefit hosted by the University of Chicago Celiac Disease Center at the Swissôtel downtown Chicago.  Not only is the event set up to raise funds for a cause so important to many of us, but over 30 of the top restaurants in Chicago were serving up amazing gluten-free dishes.

The night began with a presentation by the founder of the University of Chicago Celiac Disease Center, Stefano Guandalini, MD.  Dr. Guandalini, originally from Rome, Italy, has spent many years dedicated to studying celiac disease.  After coming to the US he was shocked to learn of the how few Americans were diagnosed with celiac and how little doctors screened for it.  Studies have shown that 1 in 133 Americans have the disease, yet 97% remain undiagnosed. This led him to establish what is now the Celiac Disease Center at the University of Chicago to raise awareness, education and advocacy of the disease.

The Center is run entirely by funding so events such as the one last night are vital in maintaining their research and amenities.  Money raised by last night’s event  contribute to  educating doctors that celiac disease is not as uncommon as many believe and to increase awareness.  Money also gets used to fund research in how celiac disease is triggered and possible intervention, as well as how to better care and inform patients.

There were many impressive items in the silent and live auction that seemed to end with even more impressive monetary results.  The event was well attended and it was quite a feeling to be among so many people there for one cause that probably effected everyone in the room in one way or another.  I bumped into my personal doctor, from the center, as well as many people who are involved in the gluten-free community.

Now on to the most fun part of the evening, the food!  The evening was just amazing in that we were located in an elaborate ballroom with what seemed like never-ending high-quality options that were all gluten-free.  No questions needed to be asked about cross-contamination, no packages had to be checked.  Everything was 100% gluten-free and safe.  It made me giddy to know I could go up to any restaurant there and eat what I wanted, I was in gluten-free heaven.

Over 30 of Chicago’s top restaurants were in attendance and everything was fabulous.  Dishes were plated impressively and individually so you could literally of had a 30-course plus meal.  Everything from starters to desserts and drinks were in abundance.  I was truly impressed by every restaurant there, but because I do not have room to mention each one individually, I am going to list my highlights.  Ben Pao’s Thai beef salad, Carnivale‘s ropa vieja with sweet plaintains, the sweet pea soup from Bistro 110, the Vietnamese spring rolls with marinated tofu from the Centered Chef Food Studios, the butterscotch custard creme from Mon Ami Gabi and Café Ba Ba Reeba, the house-made Italian sausage with braised lentils and velvet mashed potatoes from Osteria Via Stato, the fennel-encrusted tuna with arugula from RL, the Ahi tuna rolls from Roy’s, the sesame encrusted crab cakes, salmon terrine and raspberry pana cotta (pictured above) from the Swissôtel, and probably my absolute favorite, the mini beef barbacoa tacos from Foodlife.  And of course I can’t forget the always amazing cupcakes from Swirlz, I enjoyed the lemon macadamia toffee and the chocolate twixie, which were both an absolute treat.

All of the chefs and restaurant staff were extremely friendly and genuinely seemed excited to be a part of this event.  They were very helpful with any questions about the menu, and informed everyone of the gluten-free items available in the restaurants, many with copies of their gluten-free menus on display.

I definitely did not leave there feeling hungry, nor did I wake up that way.  It left me with happy memories, and a list of restaurants to go to for my next special occasion or just a casual night out.  I believe the event was a huge success in all ways and you could really see it on everyone’s faces.  It was well worth the price of a ticket and I definitely look forward to this event again in the future.

Article Written by:

Anne is a self-proclaimed foodie who loves eating out as much as cooking for friends. Since being diagnosed with celiac, she has been determined to not let it put a damper on her food adventures, and to raise awareness among the general public. Anne recently moved from Chicago to Atlanta and is enjoying exploring the gluten-free wonders in her new city. Follow Anne on Twitter and Google+!

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  • Julie

    I couldn’t agree more with you about the whole evening! My husband and I flew in from Ohio just to attend this event and it was so worth it.
    It was my first time and it did take a few minutes for me to adjust to the fact that I could eat absolutely everything without having to ask one single question. What an additiional treat to be able to sneak a bite from my husband’s plate again!
    We both took note of the pure joy in so many celiacs faces as they overate. I too went to bed completely stuffed and woke up the same way—that hasn’t happened in years.
    I’m interested in hearing the final dollar amount raised–people were quite generous.
    As soon as I get the date for next year’s event it will go on my calendar in permanent ink. It can be a pricey evening but I encourage everyone to start saving their pennies now-you won’t regret it.

  • http://www.glutenfreepromotions.com Tiffany Janes

    Wow – that sounds like a truly fabulous evening! The only thing I’ve attended that is somewhat similar was the NFCA Cooking Spree which was held in Atlanta in 2007. It was amazing just to walk up to any table there and eat whatever they were offering! That night was the start of the amazing white bean lobster chili at the Four Seasons hotel here. It became a house signature dish at Park 75 and I think it’s still on the menu today. Some people think we’re obsessed with food, due to our excitement level about what they consider unimportant things. What most of them don’t get is that we’re just excited to do what everyone else does every day of their lives – eat, drink and be merry – without muddling through a long list of questions first. I’d love to attend the Chicago event one day….love the city and it’s definitely a good cause to support!

    .

  • Lucy

    I wish we had such events near me. These sound like a great opportunity to learn even more. I love getting your updates Anne- I check my inbox everyday just to see what you have in the works! Thanks for keeping me in the know and also helping me know that Iam not alone in the this. Keep up your wounderful work – you inspire me everyday.

  • http://www.glutenfreemusings.com Anne Steib

    I am curious to know how much they made in the end as well, and hope it will be published soon.

    Lucy, thank you so much for your comment, you truly made my week!

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