The oversized invitation for the opening of Ian Schrager's newest hotel, Public Chicago, stated "no jacket required and dress knockout." And even though the party was intended to be a celebration of the hotel, formerly the Ambassador East, it also celebrated the transformation of the world famous Pump Room. The invite-only crowd, greeted by a smiling Ian Schrager, mingled in the living room (lobby) and the library sampling canapes and cocktails while photographers snapped away at the scenesters and screen stars Billy Zane ("Titanic") and Zoe Saldana ("Avatar" and "Star Trek").
The Ambassador East, in its heyday, played host to a multitude of stars, most of whom enjoyed the Pump Room's exclusive Booth One status. On this night, Booth One was occupied by Desiree Rogers and her friends. You could almost hear Stanley Paul at the piano again as guests welcomed the new era of the Pump Room and Public Chicago, while honoring its legendary past. Stanley, who entertained in the Pump Room for more than 10 years and lived in the hotel, had this to say about the changes, "It's today, it's fun and you don't have to wear a tie! They're not trying to duplicate the past. Actually, it looks more like the original layout of the Pump Room. I think Schrager is a genius."
A private dinner for 160 was held concurrently where invitees enjoyed James Beard award-winning Chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten's "farm to table" menu. On the scene were Juanita Jordan, Katherine and Judd Malkin, Victor Skrebneski, Barb and Roe Conn, Eric Ferguson, Bill Zwecker, Cynthia Olson, Alexi Giannoulias, Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy, Whitney and Jerry Lasky, Christopher Clinton Conway, Bears' Israel Idonije, Toni and Rick Canada, Blackhawk's Brent Seabrook and Duncan Keith among others.
Chicago Journalists Association Awards Dinner
The president of the Chicago Journalist's Association, Allen Rafalson, told me the organization has never seen a bigger crowd. And I am not in the least bit surprised since the recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award for its 72nd annual Sarah Brown Boyden Award was none other than the Sun-Times' Stella Foster. Gov. Pat Quinn thanked her for her "lifetime of service" as the crowd of 400 applauded. The association annually recognizes journalistic excellence, and this year they honored more than 20 recipients including the Tribune's Howard Reich, who received the Chicago Journalist of the Year Award. The CJA Dale Messick/Brenda Starr Award was shared by Tribune columnist Mary Schmich and artist June Brigman while the Best Online Journalism Award went to Roger Ebert for his blog. The Daniel Pearl Award was given to CBS News chief foreign affairs correspondent Lara Logan.
Freelance writer Candace Jordan is involved with many local organizations, including some whose events she covers.
Click here to see photos from the events.
Find Candace Jordan's blog at CandidCandace.com.