By Stacey Ballis
The LDE Chicago annual meeting and dinner, held June 1 and hosted by Dame Maria Concannon at her restaurant, Don Juan’s, was a spectacular event. The Dames were treated to a cocktail hour with bubbly and margaritas, along with unique nibbles like barbecued duck taquitos with sweet corn cream, little cups of ceviche, and bacon-wrapped shrimp. A family-style meal followed, with Maria’s famous guacamole and jicama salsa as well as traditional Mexican favorites like beef tenderloin in chipotle sauce, pork tenderloin in pasilla chile sauce, and a chicken with six chiles served with rice, black beans and tortillas. The evening was capped off with platters of pastries and a variety of cooling paletas, a perfect summer celebration.
One of the highlights of the evening was the honoring of Dame Toria Emas with the Dame of Distinction award. Dame Sharon Olson gave a beautiful and heartfelt speech about what Toria has meant to the organization, and to many of the Dames personally. She read some tributes she had solicited from other Dames, all of which really spoke to Toria’s betterment of LDE Chicago and LDEI, but highlighted especially her generosity of spirit, her wonderful sense of humor, and her boundless friendship. Toria herself accepted the award with her usual grace, and gave an uplifting speech to the gathering about what LDE means to her, using the letters of Escoffier’s name to draw out the qualities that the organization embodies.
Incoming President Veronica Hastings introduced this year’s diverse class of inductees. Of the eleven new Dames, nine were on hand to receive their pins as well as lovely gifts of chocolates and a copy of Chicago Cooks. Each one of these women are poised to become an asset to the organization. Reach out to them through social media and at upcoming events!