Common Threads World Festival

The Common Threads World Festival is as close to a foodie’s paradise as it gets. The event, which took place last night at Soldier’s Field, featured dishes prepared and served by internationally renowned chefs such as Goosefoot’s Chris Nugent, Belly Q, Urban Belly and Belly Shack’s Bill Kim, Boka’s Carl Shelton, and many, many more. Top Chef and Food & Wine’s Gail Simmons was honorary host.

Not only is the event a lot of fun, but it’s also a great cause. Founded in 2003 by my friend and restaurateur Art Smith and his partner, artist Jesus Salgueiro, Common Threads teaches children from low-income families to cook healthy and affordable meals. With headquarters in Chicago and outposts in Los Angeles, Miami, Palo Alto, and Washington, DC., the organization serves over 1,000 students each year.

In my mind, the World Festival is one of the best food-centric benefits in Chicago. What makes this event so unique, aside from the incredible turnout of some very talented chefs and food personalities, is the fact that you get to interact face-to-face with so many of them. In fact, the only drawback is that I don’t end up eating all the great food because most of the night is spent talking with people!

I didn’t bring my camera with me, but George Burns, long-time personal photographer to Oprah Winfrey, was kind enough to send me some of the shots he captured from the evening. I met George years ago when Oprah was hosting a block party outside her studio, and Art Smith asked me to help out. George has done it all, seen it all, and photographed some of the world’s most memorable faces and events. To the right are just a few of his shots from last night, as well as some iPhone pics of some of the chefs and their dishes.

Overall, it was a great night and I’m already looking forward to next year’s event.

photo credit: George Burns
photo credit: George Burns
photo credit: George Burns
Me and Chef Tony Priolo (Piccolo Sogno & Piccolo Sogno Due)
tacos from Chef Rick Ortiz (Antique Taco)
dish by Chef Bill Kim (BellyQ, Urban Belly, Belly Shack)
Chef Bill Kim
dish by Chef Takashi (Takashi, Slurping Turtle)
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