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Special Events West Loop

The Trotter Project, Chef Charlie Trotter’s legacy foundation, hosts their marquee event of the year, the Third Annual Excellence Gala: Women & Innovation. This year, the gala is celebrating women innovators as well as the achievements of its culinary scholarship recipients and legacies of Chefs Charlie Trotter and Homaro Cantu. Presented by The Trotter Project’s founding corporate sponsor United Airlines, the gala returns on Friday, October 18, 2019 from 4:30pm - 11:30pm at The Lakewood (1758 W. Lake St. Chicago IL). 

Gala co-chairs and women to watch, Belinda Chang (James Beard Award-winning American sommelier, writer, and restaurateur) and Deb Gross (entrepreneur, philanthropist, One Million Degrees gala chair, Trotter Project Board Member) have created the evening. Guests will be offered a multi-course dinner by Chefs Elizabeth Falkner, Antonia Lofaso, Tanya Holland, and more, with the support of an all-star team of Trotter and Cantu chef alums. 

Chef Trotter’s longtime friend and mentor, Chicago’s Chef Carrie Nahabedian, will be this year’s honorary chair. Chef Nahabedian has a long history with Chef Trotter and The Trotter Project and was a headlining chef alongside Chef Norman Van Aken at the inaugural gala. They were credited with giving Chef Trotter his first break in a kitchen and were instrumental in his career. 

The Trotter Project is a 501(c)(3) organization that provides education and mentoring opportunities to aspiring culinary professionals through its Pillars of Excellence Program. Proceeds from The Excellence Gala support the foundation’s core initiatives, including the Pillars of Excellence Program’s scholarships, culinary arts summer camp, and farm-to-classroom initiatives and more.

“Our Excellence Gala is a time to celebrate the best in the hospitality industry, while honoring the achievements of our culinary scholarship recipients and the legacies of Chefs Charlie Trotter and Homaro Cantu,” said Derrek Hull, Executive Director, The Trotter Project. “This year’s theme, Women & Innovation, is a timely tribute to all of the women powerhouses in our field. We’ve assembled a team of the top female talent who’s creativity is so inspiring. We will all be working together to create a night to remember for our guests and scholars to enjoy.” 


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