Here in Chicago, there is an annual award likened to the “Local Emmy’s for Chefs” called the Jean Banchet Awards, named for the renowned Chicago chef.
Many months ago, nominations for the annual awards began, and Chicago’s chef and foodie community wrote in the names of their favorite local chefs in many categories including the one in which my sister was nominated: Best Rising Pastry Chef.
The Jean Banchet Grand Chefs Gala is a giant (and I mean GIANT) fundraiser for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation which raises hundreds of thousands of dollars annually, and at this gala, the winners of the Jean Banchet awards are presented. My mom got to attend the gala as my sister’s “plus one”, and my stepdad, Eo and I went to dinner on our own while we waited for the “Nightcap” event to begin.
And then the text came in.
My little sister, the one who made the prettiest salads ever when she was a little girl, the same one who made a wedding cake at the age of 13, is the Jean Banchet 2012 Rising Pastry Chef!!! I truly could not be prouder. Seriously, words cannot express the ridiculous, bursting pride I feel…
We arrived at the nightcap event at about 9 p.m. and the room was packed with people dressed to the nines, but we set our sights on finding Leigh. She was manning her pastry table, where she was serving a phenomenal bite of dessert: a praline and chocolate millecrape with sour cherry meringue.
We were all up past our bedtime, and it was a phenomenal night!
Congratulations Leigh! I’m so proud of you!